PITTSBURGH: Protest Stops DSA Effort to Organize Tenants

Photo: Serve the People-Pittsburgh activists confront Democratic Socialists of America “tenants’ meeting” (where no tenants showed up).

By Alex Meins

Last Wednesday, the Pittsburgh Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) failed to carry out their first tenant meeting at Melon Park when several activists with Serve the People-Pittsburgh (STP) confronted them.

DSA has recently been flyering in the bourgeois neighborhood of Shadyside in hopes of finding tenants to organize. In response to criticisms made last summer that they were opportunistically co-opting Black struggles, like falsely claiming leadership over organizing around the murder of Antwon Rose II, the DSA has apparently decided to completely avoid Black and working-class communities altogether by focusing on Shadyside.

As the tenant meeting started (with no tenants present), the DSA members started debriefing when STP activists marched on the pavilion site with a banner that read “Combat and Resist.” Despite slightly outnumbering the STP crowd, DSA members and supporters fled almost immediately.

Scampering down the hill from the pavilion to a nearby playground, DSA members left so quickly that they abandoned their backpacks and cellphones. A crowd of people watching youth league football games nearby gathered around to see what was happening.

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Crowd gathers after STP disperses DSA meeting.

STP members and supporters passed out flyers to those who came to see what happened, explaining how DSA serves the ruling class and how STP has been out in the streets every week organizing, talking to the community, and taking action by organizing tenants. As they fled, STP activists and supporters sang, “nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah nah, DSA, goodbye!”

As a phony socialist organization, the DSA operates like a subscription-based service, where mostly petit-bourgeois members pay into electoral campaigns to sell the mirage that “socialism” can come from the ballot box, all the while tricking people into joining the imperialist Democratic Party. Likewise, DSA’s tenant activism typically amounts to pushing “know your rights” trainings, which wrongly inform working-class tenants that saying the right words in a capitalist court alone can stop the evictions which torment the masses.

With the DSA members gone, an activist spoke over a bullhorn about STP’s work in Pittsburgh, mentioning the Larimer Neighborhood Committee which has been working to attack developers and slumlords such as Keith B. Key in the Larimer and Homewood area. He also called attention to the new developments around Melon Park, and how Councilor Ricky Burgess and Mayor Bill Peduto (who both received $3,000 and $4,500 respectively from Lawrence Gumberg, the developer who demolished Penn Plaza apartment buildings) are both enemies of the working-class and oppressed nations.

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Speaker talks over bullhorn as supporters raise fists.

People clapped, asked about how to organize with STP, and put their fists up. The response to the action shows that when phony socialists like the DSA are confronted, the masses can spot the difference between false friends and real servants of the people who militantly organize against gentrification, evictions, and displacement.