As the Corona Virus crisis has grown into a worldwide pandemic, it has become increasingly clear that the systems in place are incapable or unwilling to provide the basic education, healthcare, and security people need. As capitalism once again hits a crisis, workers are losing their jobs and families are unable to acquire food. The long-term ramifications of this situation have yet to be seen, but people’s lives are already undergoing drastic changes.
At a time of global uncertainty, it is more important than ever for people to take care of one another. While preventing the spread of the virus is an important goal, there are other urgent problems facing the community. A dramatic loss in jobs will mean people lose their income, their ability to provide for themselves, and their ability to provide for their loved ones. They will need food and other basic necessities. Those same people may be unable to pay rent or other bills and will need advocates to help them combat unfair evictions. At a time, where people are already frightened, they shouldn’t have to worry about meeting their basic needs.
Some folks are more vulnerable to this social crisis than others. Many low-income children rely on free and reduced school breakfasts and lunches for their daily nutrition. Many parents are unable to afford childcare at a time when schools are closed. Homeless Americans are in even worse shape to deal with a deadly viral outbreak. Our prisons, already overcrowded, are at great risk during this time. This is just as true for immigrant detention camps. People living in close conditions with poor sanitation are more vulnerable to this pandemic. These and other vulnerable groups of people are more medically fragile than the general population and need immediate support.
We believe that people are stronger together. As such, we have agreed to work together to coordinate our responses to the ongoing situation. While individually, we might be able to combat one or two of these issues, we hope that by combining our efforts, we will be able to create a holistic response that can help the community weather this storm and emerge better prepared for any challenges we may face. Our goal is to create a robust network to provide mutual aid and real support to working class, marginalized, and vulnerable people. We hope this will grow into a stronger movement of communities working together take care of one another.
For people without jobs, unable to leave their homes or struggling to find food from the grocery store, Nebraska Left Coalition has been arranging to pick up and deliver groceries and meet people’s basic needs. NLC has been able to provide many households with a little more produce that would have otherwise gone to waste. Recognizing that the problem of food insecurity is likely to grow, NLC is working to find longer-term solutions to grow food and ensure we can continue to feed the community should this crisis continue for an extended period of time. NLC will also be exploring ways to continue connecting communities and reduce social isolation.
Free Farm Syndicate (FFS) maintains open harvest gardens and satellite bulk crop garden sites to grow food together, for each other. FFS believes fresh food is a right, regardless of social class or ability to pay. They have offered their produce at Free Farm Stands in the past and will adjust strategies as needed this year to ensure their fresh grown food goes to as many families as possible in light of the pandemic crisis.
Feed the People Omaha (FTP) is also helping to fight food insecurity, and aid working people with providing other material support, like diapers and personal hygiene products. They will continue to supply their base areas with the supplies they need in this time of crisis. They will also continue to remotely develop their political education programs.
Omaha Tenants United (OTU) is continuing their usual work to help support tenants being exploited by their landlords during this crisis, as well as taking the initiative to organize a rent strike and stand behind those who will participate.
The Omaha Socialist Rifle Association (OSRA) will continue their mission of educating and arming the Omaha Left. For all the changes COVID-19 has caused, their direction remains uncompromised. They will accelerate their work as the need for cooperation between competent, armed leftists and the wider population is absolutely crucial to the ability to defend our communities in times of panic, obtain food in times of hunger, and offer an alternative to the homogenous, reactionary gun culture of the US.
The members of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) are building progressive movements for social change while establishing an openly democratic socialist presence in American communities and politics. The Omaha chapter will be coordinating with the organizations listed and providing political education and training resources in response to the current crisis.
Together, we believe that all humans have a right to food, housing, and healthcare. That these rights were not already guaranteed has contributed to this crisis and will continue to do so. We strongly believe that the structural inequalities of capitalism contributed significantly to the spread and severity of the crisis, leaving working poor without the healthcare or sense of security they need. In the weeks ahead, these same structural inequalities will affect the working class in various ways. Low-income workers, such as cooks, nurses, grocery store clerks, daycare workers, servers and bartenders— can’t work remotely. Most low-income jobs don’t offer paid sick or vacation days. These jobs are likely to leave their employees uninsured or underinsured for medical care, with reduced hours, or even laid off.
We demand the following actions be taken:
No Rent- The Suspension of rent, mortgage, and loan payments. No evictions.
No Work: Paid sick leave and crisis pay for all.
Housing: Opening empty homes and apartments for those without.
Abolition: Freedom for detainees and prisoners. No more deportations or ICE raids.
Healthcare: Access to healthcare for all, including but not limited to free testing and treatment for COVID-19.
Education: Cancel all student loan debt.
Lift Sanctions: Lift the sanctions abroad which worsen the condition of nations already struggling to manage COVID-19.
We are living through uncertain and even frightening times. Despite this, we are confident the community will take care of ourselves. Our greatest weapons are our compassion, empathy, and solidarity. We will see one another through, and as people often do, we will emerge from these struggles stronger than ever. Capitalism is the problem, and socialism is the solution.
Free Farm Syndicate, Feed the People Omaha, The Nebraska Left Coalition, Omaha Tenants United, Revolutionary Left Radio, and the Omaha Socialist Rifle Association