By Ed Dalton
In Austin Texas, revolutionaries, the working class, and other progressive community members have come together in the organization Defend our Hoodz. Unlike other organizations which talk about gentrification, DOH carries out confrontational action, powerful cultural and community events.
On August 4th they held an energetic event in the working class neighborhood of South East Austin, which included a concert and community skits in celebration of the release of the DOH magazine, which is a community journal about anti-gentrification struggles. Old and young alike came out to perform and talk about the struggles of the working class and oppressed people in Austin. One activity was a skit in which an actor playing a big money real estate developer was attacked by the people and dunked in a swimming pool. DOH does not stop at performance art, having a long history of organized confrontations with developers, gentrifiers and the police. This history proves that with the increasing support of the people that the big money developers being dunked will soon be a reality.
The organization has done work in East Austin against a fascist haven known as Blue Cat Café and has had many successful actions enforcing the boycott they have led for years. More recently they have been organizing with the tenants of the working class Ball Park apartments alongside other revolutionary and progressive organizations. As this struggle increases and working people unite, our communities can be saved from the fate of other parts of the city where the working class, specifically the brown and black working class, have been forced out.
Between 2016 and 2017 about 159 people a day moved to Austin in net population growth according to the US census bureau, over the past 7 years Austin ranks number 1 in the nation for population growth. This growth is not neutral—it has a class character. Most of the people moving to Austin are young and wealthy without families and they prize the lower rents of the working class neighborhoods which are mainly inhabited by families of black and brown people. These neighborhoods due to a long history of racist laws and the demands of production are located mainly on the East side of the main highway dividing Austin and scattered in proximity to the city center. Now the city is attracting leisure and luxury-seeking white wealthy people and caters to these needs above all others. This has created a serious crisis for the city’s working class who are pushed further and further out. It is no surprise that the people are ready to get organized and that they have organized for themselves an organization like DOH.
Already larger and more militant than its counterparts in this struggle, DOH has never been afraid to hold tough political lines that are unapologetically in favor of the black and brown working class. Unlike others they do not exist to placate city hall, run candidates or pander to the authorities, they do not entertain the developers or their legal representatives as equals in discussion. They do not exist to broker deals, but to wage class struggle and get victories for the people. Increased attacks from the police and organized fascists have only made them stronger, one thing is clear: DOH is not going anywhere and they are a force to be reckoned with. The release of their journal only proves that not only are they a fighting organization, but one which appreciates the local culture, tastes and interests of the working people in the city they love.