Sustain the Resistance!

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CASS has made a big impact over the past five years. We’ve been working to create a DC where the seemingly impossible is possible: where bartenders readily intervene to stop harassers, where men teach each other the importance of emotional labor, where communities create safety for each other.

But did you know that we’re operating with only 1.5 staff members?! We’ve been grateful to have the amazing support of the DC community, which has tripled our budget in the past two years, and now we’re able to invest in another full-time staff position.

We’re kicking off our September campaign, and we need your DOLLARS. Your $15 a month ensures that we have the budget to keep up our radical organizing for safe spaces. That includes advocacy to pass legislation supporting those with intersecting identities, organizing to #FreeGiGi from state violence, and building safety in nightlife with training for bar staff and supportive employment for trans bartenders.

If you join our Collective Action Circle of loyal supporters by September 22nd, we’ll give you a small token of our appreciation! For:

$15/month: You’ll receive a sticker and 5 cards against harassment.
$30/month: You’ll receive the above, and you’ll be able to nominate one bar for a free Safe Bar Collective training.
$50/month: You’ll receive all of the above and receive free admission to our annual gala.
$75/month: You’ll receive all of the above and we’ll provide you and your organization with a free bystander intervention training.

Questions? Contact our Development Director Michela Masson at michela@collectiveactiondc.org.

Hate and Violence Will Not Be Tolerated in Our Community. 

Here at CASS, we’re all still reeling from the blatant racist events led by white supremacists last weekend in Charlottesville. We took to the streets last night in DC to show that hate and violence will not be tolerated.

 

We *all* deserve to feel safe — white supremacy and terrorism have no place here, Charlottesville, or anywhere. But just yesterday in our own DC community, a man with a swastika tattoo harassed people at the Ramsey pool in Eastern Market and called a young Black lifeguard the n-word.

With the significant increase in hate violence in the District since Trump’s election — including white supremacist posters in Bloomingdale, it’s critical that we speak out against hate, but also stay strong and take care of ourselves.

Don’t forget to:

  1. Hydrate.
  2. Surround yourself with supportive people and loved ones.
  3. Unplug. It’s important to stay vigilant with the news, but it’s also important to step away from the AP alerts sometimes.
  4. Sleep.
  5. Breathe.

Together, we believe we can create a community that is safe for *everyone.*

We Spoke Out: Now, Let’s Keep Pushing to #PassSHPA!

We had a powerful day of testimonies at the DC City Council meeting on July 12th in support of the Street Harassment Prevention act (SHPA).  

“When I was 21, two men drugged me at a bar and raped me. If my bartender had noticed the signs of sexual aggression, or the signs of date rape drugs, my life could have been different. If another patron had known how to recognize the signs of two men preparing to sexually assault a 21-year- old man, perhaps I would know what justice looks like. At the hospital, I reported it to the police. After completing a rape kit, the first words out of my detective’s mouth were, “We have these gay boys that go home with each other every night, wake up with their wallets missing, and expect us to do something about it.” Discrimination, be it overt or subtle, leads individuals to mistrust the very systems intended to provide safety after a crisis. Leaving us wondering, where do we go for help? … We can ensure other people don’t suffer the same fate. Because this isn’t just my story. It’s the story of thousands — thousands of people face dangerous street harassment in our city.” – Adam Swanson

“The [Street Harassment Prevention Act] cannot come at more important moment. I’m more scared than I used to be. I am concerned that we are living in times with increasing violence against women and religious and ethnic minorities. The horrible event in Portland where fellow passengers were killed for standing up to a man who was harassing two African American women, one in a hijab, shows the importance that law enforcement and the wider public be trained to intervene when street harassment occurs, especially in ways that de-escalate a situation.” – Jennifer Bianca Browning

We’re still collecting all of the testimonies, but a few of them are up here.

The bill will broaden the definition of street harassment to include our most marginalized communities. And the SHPA will create mechanisms of data collection and training requirements to make sure that everyone’s experience of street harassment is recognized and addressed.

Here’s How You Can Help Pass SHPA:

1) Call your councilmember and tell them why you support the bill. Check your Ward. If you or your friends live in Wards 3 or 7, call or Tweet at your councilmembers and tell them to #PassSHPA. At-large members represent all of DC, so everyone should call and Tweet at Councilmember Bonds.

Here’s a sample phone script: Hi, my name is _______ and I’m a DC resident. I’m calling to ask Councilmember [Your Councilmember or At-Large Councilmember] to pass the Street Harassment Prevention Act. In a time of rising hate and harassment that disproportionately affects women and LGBTQ people of color, we need community-based, non-criminal solutions like education, awareness, and training to make DC safer for everyone. Thank you.

Here’s a sample Tweet: Harassment is on the rise in the District. As a concerned resident, I’m asking you to take action – #PassSHPA! [Twitter handle of your Councilmember or At-Large Councilmember]

And here is the contact information you can plug in:

  • Ward 3: Contact Councilmember Mary Cheh at (202) 724-8062 or on Twitter at @MaryCheh
  • Ward 7: Councilmember Vincent Gray at (202) 724-8068 or on Twitter at @VinceGrayWard7
  • At-Large: Councilmember Anita Bonds at (202) 724-8064 or on Twitter at @AnitaBondsDC

2) Tweet your general support.

3) Speak out against street harassment on August 23rd.

Thank You For Your Support to #FreeGiGi!

Yesterday GiGi Thomas was given a 30-year sentence and 10 years were suspended. The sentence is 20 years, however, she will not serve all of them.

GiGi Thomas is a transgender woman of color who has worked for more than 15 years supporting people in need in the D.C.-Baltimore area. She served as a client consultant with the sex-worker rights and human services organization HIPS and recently completed a Masters in Social Work from Howard University. Over the years, GiGi helped thousands of community members find shelter and sustenance, reunited families, cared for the injured, and spoke out about injustice especially regarding the treatment of the trans community. Gigi’s peers describe her as “one of those people who just gives and gives with all they have,” and an “amazing woman with a heart of gold.”

Since October 2015, GiGi has been held without bail in a men’s prison, often in solitary confinement. At her trial in February 2017, her attorney argued for involuntary manslaughter and a jury (obviously not of her peers) found her guilty of 2nd degree murder. The prosecuting attorney misgendered her and erased the context of her experiences as a trans woman of color, social worker, and community leader.

The ongoing support from the community to right this injustice has been amazing — you’ve written letters, shared stories, and appeared in the courtroom.

The judge reported that she examined the strong community support — and that GiGi’s support was “different from normal support.” Your letters and presence at the courtroom demonstrated that GiGi is appreciated in our community and her work is valuable.

GiGi will be at the jail for about two weeks, and will then be transferred to Baltimore to be placed. You can write to her in the meantime at GiGi Marie Thomas (A65386), PG County Correctional Center, 13400 Dille Drive, Upper Marlboro, MD 20772.

The work continues to #FreeGiGi, as well as other incarcerated Black trans women who fight this system daily.

Why You Should Get Your Ticket for Safe Space Jam Right. Now.

Our annual celebration is on Thursday, April 27th and oh, are we pumped! We’re pulling out all the stops: beers from DC Brau, gin from Green Hat, noms from Corcoran Catering and Insomnia Cookies and more! We’ll also have a bunch of fun activities including a photobooth and a silent auction with offerings from awesome local businesses — as well as author Roxane Gay! We’ll even have a mini bystander intervention training (it’ll be fun, we promise).

We have a new awesome name for our gala and some surprises in store, but the cause is the same: supporting work to make our fine city safer and more accessible for *everyone.* We worked hard in 2016 to build a better DC for all — and this is an especially important year for us to double down on our efforts to create communities rooted in dignity, respect, and justice.

We’re so grateful to the supportive organizations that have contributed to make this event great, including The Bird, Compass Coffee, Dan Carter Yoga, District Karaoke, Freed Bodyworks, Julie Ann Art, Potter’s House, [solidcore], SoulCycle, Summit to Soul, Tabletop, the Washington Nationals, Woolly Mammoth, Yoga District, Zengo Cycle, and more!

Still not totally convinced why you need to stop everything and get a ticket right now? Here are some reasons why folks are PUMPED to attend this year.

  1. “Every year, it is an uplifting experience to know that you are not alone. To know that people care and want to change society.”
  2. “The best part of our annual party is getting to meet interesting, passionate people from our community who support CASS. Oh, and the open bar.”
  3. “Somehow I consistently wind up in these awesome conversations where I’m one of the last to leave.”
  4. “The open bar speaks for itself, but my favorite part of the annual gala is the silent auction. Outbidding friends and snagging cool stuff from local businesses, all while supporting CASS with a drink in your hand — what’s not to love?”
  5. “I’m super excited to land a bunch of cool stuff at the silent auction – like spin classes, massages and theatre tickets, going 100% to a good cause!”
  6. “I’m excited for the photo booth. Obviously. Facebook memories reminded me of photos from the CASS gala I attended back in 2013 and I took photos with new friends. Realizing those friendships have totally blossomed over the past few years with our shared passion for safe spaces? Priceless.”
  7. “The massage chair last year was a wonderful addition for activists because we often forget to prioritize self-care.”

Excited?! Get your tickets now!

See you April 27th!

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