SUNDAY PROGRESSIVE: Let's Talk About A Split In American Progressives

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Good morning, Progressives.

This week further demonstrated the destructive nature of American institutions, from the police response to the Capitol riots to executions, and weak, party-line statements by our most progressive congresspeople. As a result, the week highlights a split in American progressives: those who denounce the Capitol Police, the criminal justice system, the Biden Administration, and all other enforcers of racial capitalism, and those who will attempt to distinguish between beneficial and harmful elements of these forces.

On Monday, Democrats introduced a second impeachment article against President Trump and a resolution calling for V.P. Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment. The resolution described rioters “[overpowering] and [outmaneuvering]” the Capitol Police. However, the footage shows officers removing barriers to rioters and taking selfies with them. Speaker Pelosi (D-CA) called for Capitol Police, House, and Senate Security leadership to resign or be removed, but do not recognize the white supremacist sympathies and purpose of American Police forces. 

Progressives should focus on police cooperation in the Capitol riots. Trump will soon be replaced, but the Capitol police will remain, continuing to harm people of color and working-class people by failing to combat other white supremacist organizations and regularly enforcing a system of laws that is explicitly designed to punish poverty and people of color. 

Our progressive leaders did not address this. Sen. Sanders (I-VT) ignored police facilitation of the attack and sent condolences to the family of an injured officer. Is this unsurprising? Did Sanders not suggest an increase in police budgets this summer, even as many of his supporters demanded abolition? Rep. Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) addressed her followers, calling for impeachment and discussing the actions of Capitol Police officers. Ocasio-Cortez contrasted “heroic” officers “who were confronting white supremacists” and those who betrayed their duty.

On Tuesday morning, a federal judge granted a stay on the execution of Lisa Montgomery. In 2019, the Trump Administration ended a 17-year hiatus in federal executions, executing 10 people last year.  Trump is pursuing multiple executions despite the nearing transfer of power. Rep. Pressley (D-MA) and Sen. Durbin (D-IL) reintroduced the Federal Death Penalty Prohibition Act on Monday. In light of President-Elect Biden’s similarly draconian criminal justice record, this bill will remain vital to his administration. Some of the people executed by the Trump Administration were on death row because of the expanded applicability of the death penalty under Biden’s 1994 Crime Bill. In 1992, Biden bragged on the Senate floor, “we do everything but hang people for jaywalking in this bill.” Biden now opposes the death penalty, but can he be trusted to maintain this stance? The Progressive would like to hear your thoughts on this.

Good Morning DC reported early on The Inside Story Of Pence’s Fallout with Trump;  Pence would not invoke the 25th Amendment.   

Regardless, the new Congress and Administration are preparing to take power. Early this week, Sen. Sanders was interviewed about his upcoming role as Senate Budget Committee Chair. Sanders will not be an ally of progressives in this role, instead “working within the context of what Biden wants.” Biden strongly opposes Medicare for All, promising to veto the bill if it arrives on his desk. 

On Wednesday morning, Lisa Montgomery was executed. The Supreme Court overruled the stay she was granted on Tuesday. This tragic decision emphasizes the powerlessness of not only grassroots anti-death penalty advocates but members of the judicial branch less powerful than the conservative Supreme Court. 

Wednesday afternoon the House impeached Trump for inciting insurrection with 232 to 197 in favor. 

Enbridge, a Canadian oil company, is currently constructing a new pipeline through Anishinaabe lands in Minnesota, against the wishes of indigenous people and allied activists. On Thursday morning, eight Line 3 pipeline protesters were arrested in Minnesota. The protesters successfully blocked the construction of the pipeline for “about an hour or two,” according to the County Sheriff. Enbridge is responsible for some of the largest oil spills in American history. 

Additionally, the construction project brings multiple “man camps” to the area, which have a documented history of increasing violence against indigenous women. Arrested protester Abby Hornberger commented, “I refuse to be complicit in settler colonialist practices, and feel that I have to put my body on the line to protect indigenous communities sovereignty and all of our futures.” Stop Line 3 continues to organize against the project, sharing a statement of opposition to the project, advocating divestment from banks backing DAPL and Tar Sands pipeline expansions, and nonviolently blocking construction. Anti-pipeline activist Dawn Goodwin promised, “we’re gonna do all that we can without violence.”

On Thursday night, Corey Johnson was executed in Terre Haute, Indiana. The Supreme Court denied an appeal based on Johnson’s intellectual disability and infection with COVID-19. Johnson’s IQ was lower than the Court’s standard for a disability, making the death penalty unconstitutional, but the Court disregarded this issue. Before his execution, Johnson apologized for his actions, saying, “I am not the same man that I was.” 

Despite contracting COVID-19, wrongfully convicted Matthew Rushin remains incarcerated; Rushin was manipulated by his attorney and aggressively interrogated, resulting in a conviction of aggravated malicious wounding and a hit and run. Governor Northam granted Rushin a conditional and partial pardon, setting an arbitrary release date of March 2021. Activists are pushing for him to be fully pardoned and supporting Rushin’s legal defense fund. Here, Rushin’s mother explains his case.

Dustin Higgs was executed early on Saturday morning. At trial, the only witness testifying against Higgs was bribed with a lower sentence. The actual perpetrator volunteered a signed affidavit in which he stated Higgs’ innocence, summarizing “the prosecution’s theory of our case was bullshit.” Attorneys for Higgs were recently granted an appeal in the Fourth Circuit Federal Appeals Court. However, Higgs’ ‘day in court’ is scheduled for 12 days after his execution. After a week of unjust executions, Dustin Higgs’ case is further tragic evidence that the justice system does not fail to serve its purpose when terrorizing people of color and poor people; it fulfills its purpose.

SUNDAY PROGRESSIVE will be back next Sunday. In the meantime, we will continue watching progressive issues unfold into the Biden Administration. Stay tuned and join our community to keep informed on what to celebrate and what to be mad about each week.

 

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