Sacramento ‘Cancel Rents’ Car Rally Joins Dozens Nationally in Protest

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Rents protest brought cars and signs out to the streets (Photo credit JP Romero)

By Crescenzo Vellucci
Vanguard Sacramento Bureau Chief

SACRAMENTO – Car protests that “respect” social distancing are becoming quite the norm in the Capital City now – over the past several weeks, at least four car “rallies” have scooted through mostly abandoned city streets here.

But in these days of COVID-19, advocates have been itching for a chance to reach out in some way about what is wrong now, and what has been wrong in society, despite social distancing and stay-at-home orders.

Saturday, for instance, a car caravan of a several dozen vehicles – with between one or more people inside each car, everyone “masked up” – traversed downtown Sacramento, from midtown to the Capitol to south Sacramento to call for the cancellation of ALL rents, mortgages for homeowners, small landlords and small businesses.

But this car protest was not limited to Sacramento – there were about 40 protests nationwide, sponsored by the Party for Socialism and Liberation, and other progressive organizations.

“In December 2019, when COVID-19 emerged in China, the United States was warned that we would be affected. Instead of using the next two months to prepare, Trump and the U.S. government ignored public health experts, even ridiculing them,” according to a statement released by PSL Sacramento, adding:

“Now, due to this lack of preparedness the U.S. has become the epicenter of the pandemic and millions of working class people are headed towards financial ruin. The patchwork of city and state moratoriums on evictions are not enough.”

PSL noted that as May 1 approaches many people – who haven’t received unemployment monies because of snafus in the CA unemployment office – are facing rent payments, let alone food purchases they may not be able to afford.

As a result, PSL is urging the cancellation of all rents.

“In a few months when these moratoriums are lifted, and the rents come due — we will still not have the money! Workers cannot pay their rent because we cannot work! #CancelTheRents. We believe that we must act now to defend the essential right of all people to housing during and after the COVID-19 crisis,” said PSL Sacramento.

From Los Angeles to San Francisco to Chicago to New York and more than 40 cities across the country, according to PSL, cars rolled through impoverished neighborhoods, stopped in front of jails to demand prisoners be freed from their trucks and cars and drove by the homes of local politicians to demand that all rents and mortgages be cancelled.

Posters attached to the vehicles with painters tape read CancelTheRents.org, House the Homeless and Bail out the People not the Corporations. They called for a cancellation of utility payments and for full rights to all immigrants, freedom for prisoners and housing for all.

Those without cars stood 6 feet apart on street corners with masks covering their faces holding signs that said “If we can’t work, we can’t pay. Canceltherents.org.” In numerous boroughs of New York City, small groups of protesters dropped banners from overpasses and stood 6 feet apart with homemade signs saying, “Cancel the Rent!”

According to PSL, in many cities, like New Haven, Ct. and Denver, pedestrians, essential workers like bus drivers, people living on the street and other drivers responded enthusiastically to the call for a cancellation of rents, mortgages for workers, small businesses and small landlords.

In Boston, some 30 cars drove around the South Bay House of Correction, where many people (most of whom are pretrial) are being jailed. The jail is next to a homeless shelter, and many of the people there were clapping and yelling in support when the caravan passed by. Public bus drivers and individual drivers/pedestrians honked and gestured in support throughout the route, reported PSL.

Cancel Rents car protest featured signs and more signs (Photo credit JP Romero)

Organizers made it clear that these protests were nothing like the despicable rightwing protests against necessary stay at home measures.

National organizer Brian Becker stated: “While we recognize and society recognize the First Amendment and exercise of First Amendment rights as essential, our April 25, 2020 ‘Cancel the Rents’ car protest practiced the socially responsible regulations outlined in social distancing norms and stay at home orders including physical distancing and mask-wearing. We believe we must act now to defend the essential right of all people to housing during and after the COVID-19 crisis.”

In San Francisco, said PSL, about 30 cars rolled past rows of sidewalk tents in the Tenderloin as homeless people joined in the chants. The protest started with a speech from Gloria La Riva, the Party for Socialism and Liberation’s 2020 presidential candidate, who pointed out that if the rents stopped being paid, all the housing would still be standing and everyone could have a home.

Denver, reportedly, was the site of one of the largest car caravans of the day. Nearly 200 cars met at the Mercury Cafe parking lot and zig-zagged along a one mile circuit through downtown Denver, stopping to honk at several key landmarks of capitalism such as upscale apartments with major vacancies, the State capitol building, the downtown jail and the immigration center, as well as a homeless shelter.

In Albuquerque, PSL reported that “21 cars traveled six miles mostly down Historic Route 66, one of the original U.S. highways. Famous for being the route Dust Bowl refugees used to escape West during the 1930s, it is nowadays entwined into New Mexican low rider car cruising culture. The caravan made several detours into the infamous War Zone neighborhood, known for decrepit, crumbling housing and predatory landlordism. Residents lined the streets cheering. Some ran into the streets shouting their phone numbers and names at passing drivers, asking to be contacted about the next caravan.”

PSL added: “With support from housing rights organizations, decarceration groups, and anti-police terror organizations, the Washington, D.C. caravan was a rousing success, with stops at the mayor’s house, the White House and the DC jail.

In Fresno California, 13 cars traveled through working class neighborhoods to the Tower District, the main cultural strip in the city and then to downtown where PSL member Cruz Rodriguez gave a speech demanding the cancellation of rents and mortgages for small businesses and homeowners.

PSL described below what happened in the New York City metropolitan area, national epicenter of the crisis:

“Protests across the city were met with cheers and support. Two separate caravans rolled through working class areas in Queens, and the Bronx, possibly the hardest hit areas in the country. Caravan drivers decorated their vehicles with signs such as ‘No Debt During a Pandemic’ and ‘Shouldn’t Choose Rent Over Food.’

In northern New Jersey, PSL said a caravan of some 20 cars passed close to the Essex County Correctional Center to support for the ICE detainees and demand their immediate release. Banner drops were held at strategic and high-traffic locations around the city, such as the Brooklyn Housing Court, Brooklyn Bridge, and the Macombs Dam Bridge in Harlem. Those unable to leave their homes covered their windows with signs of support to inform their neighbors. Outside subway stations, activists chalked up the streets with the demand to cancel the rents.

And in Los Angeles, a car caravan with more than 80 cars gathered in Historic South Central Los Angeles and had a press conference before departing to loop through neighborhoods to Downtown LA – passing Section 8 housing, City Hall, the ICE detention center, through Chinatown, ending at the Twin Towers Jail.

Four protests took place in Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Lancaster and West Chester. In Pittsburgh, cars began a caravan through six Pittsburgh neighborhoods, traveling about 10 miles. With windows down, the caravan waved to passersby as people in cars and pedestrians cheered it on.

Said PSL, “Approximately 70 cars participated in the Philadelphia action, which circled around City Hall before concluding with several loops around hated local oligarch Joel Freedman’s house. Freedman is a real estate baron who bought a struggling local hospital, closed it down, and then demanded over $5 million from the city to reopen it to treat Coronavirus victims.”

At least 20 cars drove through Downtown San Diego, through Barrio Logan, to National City.

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11 thoughts on “Sacramento ‘Cancel Rents’ Car Rally Joins Dozens Nationally in Protest”

  1. Keith Olsen

    Organizers made it clear that these protests were nothing like the despicable rightwing protests against necessary stay at home measures.

    So let’s get this straight, the Party for Socialism and Liberation wants the cancelation of rents, mortgages and utility bills while they themselves are out protesting not obeying the necessary stay at home measures and calling the rightwing protests despicable where they were out protesting for the reopening of the economy so people could pay their rents, mortgages and utility bills.

     

     

    1. Alan Miller

      KO, I do get your point, but I have to say the many photos and videos of the Michigan and similar protests showed many of the protestors outside their cars, without masks, next to each other.  I think the Gov of Mich clamped down too hard, but I am not impressed by people completely ‘ignoring science’ and acting like being out potentially spreading the virus by flaunting medical recommendations is a good idea or a way to make a point.  I haven’t seen photos of the rent protests, but if everyone is in cars and wearing masks and distancing, they do score points for responsibility and can claim some points over the right-wing protests in that regard.

  2. Alan Miller

    “If we can’t work, we can’t pay rent or mortgage”

    And if landlords can’t get rent, they can’t pay mortgage or repair the buildings.  At some point this has to come home to roost — but every step or government intervention will create vast inequities, not equalities — just look at what is happening with ‘small business loans’ that are only going to the businesses that were connected through large banks, while the true small business people were left in the dust.  The same thing is going to happen with small landlords when the so-called small-ish-but-connected property owners get the landlord-mortgage relief money.

    Landlords are suffering too.  A friend owns a 20-unit apartment in LA.  One of the tenants just died, and she and the other tenants are all freaking-out waiting for coronor to report if the deceased had Covid-19, and meanwhile they are sterilizing everything best they can.  Many of her tenants aren’t working, and she is giving some several hundred dollars off and working with them, but she says at a certain point if this keeps up and some of them can’t pay rent, she won’t be able to pay the mortgage or maintain the building – and is trying to figure out where that point is.  If everyone strikes, she is screwed.

    So let’s say the strikers ‘win’, and the government puts on a program of paying mortgages for landlords.  Similar will happen as with small business – zoomp!  All the money’s gone like a Led Zeppelin reunion concert ticket.  And what if everyone was covered by ‘Gov’ment’?  You are talking about tens of trillions of dollars of ‘printed’ fake money.  That doesn’t come from nowhere – it means almost certain hyper-inflation – and who loses in that?  Not those with property as much as those who only have cash.  At some point the series of bailouts is going to have necessary results, because the laws of economics are as brutal and real as the laws of physics.

  3. Alan Miller

    Organizers made it clear that these protests were nothing like the despicable rightwing protests against necessary stay at home measures.

    I think “though dost protest too much”.  Ha!  See what I did there?

  4. Tia Will

    I have a different perspective. True, these protests are focused solely on rent, but expose a deeper issue in our society. Our valuation of what is “work” and what is a “job” have been structured to favor some groups over others. The situation I present is fact. My interpretation is my own. The first reaction of many will be…yeah so, that’s just how it is. I would ask you to consider why, & whether that is still the best option we could devise.

    I am using my birth family as an example. My father was a ship fitter who worked 5 days/wk, eight hours per day for a salary + a few benefits. My mother got up every day an hour before him, prepared his breakfast and lunch. She then took care of us, maintained the house, yard, laundry, mending, fixed dinner to be ready when he got home, played or read to us before getting us bathed & in bed, and then cleaned up any mess made during evening activities and went to bed to be ready to do it all again the next day. This she did 7 days/wk for no pay except what our dad saw fit to give her. They did discuss expenditures, but if there was a difference of opinion, he always won. Why? Because he made the money. When my dad died when I was nine, my mom was left with two kids and SS. That was all. Rural, no high school diploma, never drove, no skills…not because she was lazy, but because that was the expectation of her time and upbringing.

    My take. This system of obvious inequality was a deliberate construct to keep initially women in a position of dependency. Whether one believes that is religiously or otherwise justified, is irrelevant since the outcome is the same. Over the decades things have changed, but not to the point of equity by a long shot. We have allowed wealthy entrepreneurs and guilds ( such as doctors) to decide what work is of value and what is not.

    I would suggest, at least in this time of medical crisis, that we take a radically different approach. Instead of deeming enforced “no work outside the home” something to be endured individually, that we provide a UBI at least until such time as an individual can resume their regular job. The argument that people will choose not to work becomes meaningless when they are not allowed to work. IMO this would be a much better boost to the economy by allowing all to have enough money to pay their bills and make needed purchases.

     

      1. Jeff Boone

        First point… I cannot login under another name.  Frankly, it is a technical problem.

        I used to enjoy my debates with you on these topics before the owner of the DV made the mistake of eliminating posts under a pseudonym.  But this I cannot resist.

        Universal Basic Income (UBI) is a very terrible and destructive idea.  Anyone that supports it does not understand basic human behavior and basic human psychology.  Or they do understand it completely and it serves their hidden agenda.

        There are two primary topics to cover the proof that UBI is a terrible idea.

        1. Maslow’s human needs mountain.  2. Peterson’s human social hierarchy

        The human needs mountain – with physiological and safety needs at the bottom, love and belonging needs in the middle, and esteem and self-actualization needs at the top – is one where you cannot be magically propelled up without climbing yourself.  In other words, you cannot build belonging and esteem having other people pay for your physiological and safety needs, and you cannot become self-actualized without developing self-esteem.  A small percentage of the population might exploit UBI to use the time to master some skill that they then use to launch a career, but many (probably most) will be aimless unfulfilled husks of humanity looking for meaning and purpose in their life, and many will become malcontents justifying malice. (note – I am talking about able-bodied and minded adults here)

        The human animal is a pack animal (social) and will naturally develop into hierarchies.  Put 100 people on some isolated land without anything other then themselves and the land and they will filter into a hierarchy that derives from their individualism: their personality, innate intelligence and talents, etc.  This is what the egalitarians fail to recognize… that they are in fact pursuing a place in the social hierarchy with their advocacy for equality… exploiting THEIR personality, traits, abilities, etc.  They are motivated to be considered higher up in a hierarchy of their peers and believe that activism over virtuous ideas will help.  It is natural for anyone to want that… but the problem is that we have competing hierarchical structures: the productive business state and the looting administrative state.

        It is the pursuit of hierarchy in competition of these two states is what causes our primary political divisions.  The primary hierarchy – that of production, individual enterprise, self-determination and freedom to pursue self interest… the one that built the nation we are so lucky to be part of… the one our founders intended to dominate – is now labeled the toxic masculine oppressive patriarchy by the proponents of the competing hierarchy… the looting administrative state.  The looting administrative state is one of where the elite egalitarians fulfill their self-actualization needs and establish themselves as high ranking officials in their social hierarchy by nurturing of the lower class.  They have to take from the producers to fund this giving of benefits.  Doing so creates dependency and cements their power to loot more.

        The problem is that this serves to bifurcate the upper and lower classes because the administrative state has no higher authority and the people in it defend their place on the hierarchy by weaving a defense… basically blocking access to advancement except for the children and friends of the elite administrative authority (see the elite college admissions scandal).  We see too much of this already today where every business requires a license and certification, and big business leverages its connections with small business to block competition.   Big business LOVES the idea of UBI because it locks many into a cycle of dependency where they cannot advance in the hierarchy, and they cannot satisfy their higher needs… the number of upstart competitors falls away.

        Go back to that 100 people on the isolated land.  First, they need food and shelter.  And so some in the group will clear the land, plant crops and build shelter.  And over time those with talents to do these things well, and to organize and lead to greater production, will recognize the need for postal service, schools, road maintenance, etc.  And so they will form an administrative service funded by some taxes to take care of these things.

        What has happened in this country is that the administrative service has grown so large and powerful that it has turned the masters of production into slaves of an administrative state.   That is why they like UBI… it is the next step in turning everyone into either a slave of, or a supporter of, the administrative state.

        UBI should be soundly opposed every time the term is uttered.  We need to get back to honoring and supporting the productive business state as a way to help more people have a good life.  And we need to shrink the looting administrative state.

        1. Bill Marshall

          Am thinking your post should have been aimed @ TW, not AM… Alan was asking what I believe to be ‘an honest question’… to which I’d add, “where does the $$$ come from?”

          It was TW, not AM who brought the UBI thingy up.

          Also, just got my/our utility bills… we’re paying ours…

          The thought that we are mandated to pay those of others, “bugs me” to say the least…

          At this point, we pay no rent, no mortgage… we made financial sacrifices to get there… to expect us to guarantee, pay that for others, by mandate, “bug me”…

          We made very significant contributions, voluntarily, to charities the last few years… ‘mandatory’, particularly when tax deductions for taxes are being constrained by the ‘government’… one party advocating that, for more generous states… dominated by the other party…

      2. Jeff Boone

        Correction of the previous:

        and big business leverages its connections with small business to block competition.

        s/b

        and big business leverages its connection with big government to block competition from small business.

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