Our chapter was started by a group of friends in the fall of 2016. They imagined they’d have a small discussion group that met once a month. Then the general election happened. The Democratic Socialists of America San Francisco chapter saw membership skyrocket to nearly 500 dues paying members. Now we have over 600 members who want to build socialism in San Francisco.

Our chapter has no full-time staff. We take no corporate donations. Everything we’ve accomplished this year we’ve done through people power. Every action, every campaign, every internal process was the result of members volunteering to solve problems.

This chapter is great because of you. I think we’ve all earned a sentimental re-cap of all the work we’ve done.

Off of the internet and into the streets

Barely a chapter, we hit the ground running. We marched with our neighbors to protest the inauguration on January 20. We joined our families and friends to protest sexism during the Women’s March and again on Women’s Day. We stood with our community to shut down San Francisco Airport. For May Day we joined thousands of people to demonstrate for immigrant rights. We joined the Communication Workers of America in their picket line while they struck for fair contracts. We hit the streets to protest the #GOPTaxScam.

Fighting fascists: a socialist tradition.

Literal swastika-wearing Nazis made the Bay Area a political target this year. Emboldened by the Trump presidency, they tried to occupy our public spaces and We. Shut. Them. Down. White feminists asked us to stay home and billionaire-owned media tried to slander our community self-defense. We didn’t listen.

Instead we built a coalition with labor unions, anti-racist organizations, and anti-fascist groups to out-number white supremacists and force them off our streets.

Mutual Aid

In humble and meaningful ways, we found opportunities to support each other where our capitalist state fails.

We mobilized our members for Encampment Sweep Watches, canvassed to end sweeps, worked with local mechanics to train and facilitate Give Me a Brake (Light) clinics, and hauled stuff up north to help homeless folks in Santa Rosa affected by the NorCal fires. We raised funds for leftist organizations in Puerto Rico that are taking on the hard work of rebuilding after the hurricane. At the time of writing this, we’re also hosting a blood drive.

Heyyyyyy, We do Parliamentary and Electoral Stuff, Too

In January, we mobilized members to swing the Assembly District Delegate Elections progressive. We fought the Chop Shop bill’s increasing criminalization of homeless people. We protested SFPD adoption of tasers until past midnight. Our members helped file the SF Right to Counsel ballot initiative and we’re collecting signatures for it now. Vote for it on the June 2018 ballot. We were there to support our neighbors at #SaveMidtown as they continue their fight against the racist displacement lead by Mercy Housing and the Mayor’s Office of Housing.

Building the socialist, feminist, anti-racist democracy we want to see in the world

We know that if we are not actively fighting oppression we are complicit in it. Our inaugural Steering Committee ran on and won on a platform of building a healthy, safe culture for everyone to organize in. Our members helped developed the DSA’s first harassment grievance policy, which was adopted at the historic national convention.

What’s next

I can tell you about the initiatives that are already in progress. Winning San Francisco the right to counsel if you’re facing eviction. Supporting efforts to restore voting rights to disenfranchised people.

But what I’m most excited about is the stuff I don’t even know about yet because you (yes, you dear comrade) are going to do it. So pay your literal dues, grab a clipboard, a sign, a banner, a petition, a phone call script, a handout of talking points for public comment, and I’ll see you in the new year.

Darby Thomas
Co-chair, San Francisco DSA