The Chattanooga chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, a political action group, on Wednesday released a "list of demands on local government and business leaders to alleviate the effects of the COVID-19 crisis on the working and vulnerable people of greater Chattanooga."
“We are calling on Mayor Berke, the Chattanooga city council, the Hamilton County mayor and commission, and local business leaders to take these critical steps to protect the working and vulnerable people of our communities, to protect and reward our essential workers for their critical service, and to ensure our city can continue to function effectively during this crisis,” said Katie Keel, co-chair of the group.
Their demands are focused on:
securing personal protective equipment (PPE), sick leave, and hazard pay for all essential workers in Chattanooga,
ensuring no Chattanoogan is permanently harmed by the financial ramifications of the lockdowns necessary for public safety, by demanding the city suspend evictions and rent and mortgage payments for the duration of the crisis,
pushing the city to prevent humanitarian disasters by releasing the jailed and securing housing for Chattanooga’s homeless,
ensuring public safety and the continuance of public education by extending public utilities, including internet, to all Chattanooga families regardless of ability to pay,
ensuring all Chattanoogans benefit from these efforts regardless of their documentation status, and formally declaring Chattanooga a sanctuary city to prevent ICE raids on our undocumented friends and neighbors during this frightening time.
ensuring our democracy continues to function, by postponing all local and county elections, consolidating them into the November 3rd national election, and converting the entire process to mail-in balloting.
“We hope that our local leaders will immediately recognize the practical and strategic benefits of these actions and fulfill their duty to serve the people of Chattanooga, especially in times of crisis.” said Ms.
Keel. “Almost all of our demands will be necessary regardless of whether Tennessee ‘reopens’ in the short term.”
The chapter has been incorporated since early 2018, and has engaged in a range of actions to support socialist and progressive causes in Chattanooga — most recently a mutual aid program to help connect vulnerable Chattanoogans to COVID resources, and local canvassing for Bernie Sanders during the recent Democratic primary election. Keel said they plan to engage in similar direct actions to build a bottom-up response to their top-down demands list.
“Our work is aimed at building a better world for all by breaking down the class barriers that disempower working people, and we urge anyone who is interested in pressuring local leaders to contact us and get involved,” said Ms. Keel.
The group can be reached on their public Facebook page, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling or texting 423-226-1787.