What will the Trump Presidency mean to the District of Columbia? With its status as a federal district, all laws passed by the City Council are subject to Congressional approval. Legislation like needle exchange programs and gun control have been held up and denied all together by Congress. We can blame the conservative members of the House of Representatives for spear-heading these efforts but even a majority Democratic House and Senate have failed to uphold the laws that District residents and their representatives have passed when they cross the sensibilities of the Right.
With rumors that the Trump Administration plan to disrupt the District’s pro-choice and anti-gun legislation as well as the relatively new Death with Dignity Act, what can the many residents in favor of the legalization of Marijuana expect?
Local marijuana advocacy group DCMJ tried to get ahead of the issue with a pro-marijuana demonstration. On the morning of the inauguration, DCMJ planned to distribute 4,200 joints. This video below, shot by Joshua Rose Schmidt, shows how things went.
This year, District residents will have the opportunity to vote on a ballot initiative that would raise the minimum wage from $10.50 per hour to $15 per hour. As one of the nation’s most progressive and most expensive cities, the initiative is likely to pass. But if the Republican Congress decides that the District doesn’t deserve a $15 per hour minimum wage, for whatever reason, then we won’t have it.
That’s the way it works when you live in a federal district under the jurisdiction of the United States Congress, an institution not particularly well-known for its vigorous defense of civil and human rights. You can have a population larger than Wyoming, have more residents in the military than 31 other states and pay twice the national average in federal taxes and still have your voter initiative overturned by elected representatives who make make it very clear that they don’t represent District residents. No one with voting rights in the United States Congress represents District residents.
So, it is no surprise that D.C. natives and long-term residents get hot under the collar when you bring up statehood. Most people who live outside of the District just don’t get it. Which is insanely frustrating because like any other civil rights issue, there will be no movement forward unless anger over the District’s lack of representation spreads nationwide. As District residents by definition do not live next door to Nevada residents or Pennsylvania residents, etc., there’s little hope of spreading the cause.
Cincinnati-based artist Mary Clare Rietz is trying to change that with Outside/In: Perspectives on DC Statehood (a guided walk). This event is an opportunity for those who want to learn more about the statehood issue and those who know all about the statehood issue to get together and exchange ideas.
This event is FOR DC RESIDENTS. It will be opportunity for D.C. residents to meet with artists from outside of the region who are actually interested in working for D.C. Statehood. So if you have the time this weekend, please show up.