People's Action's Sondra Youdelman walks us through the march by PA convention activists through the institutions that are holding communities back -- the financiers of fossil fuel, the associations of landlords, the profiteers on the under-regulated private health-insurance racket, and to Capitol Hill where many members of Congress keep their jobs by gratefully accepting big campaign donations from those same oppressors -- screened from view by various dark-money devices embedded into law by those same members of Congress.

The participants at the PA convention took this tour through the same self-reproducing cycle of power that feeds on communities around the nation to show how close-knit all this criminality has become. Sondra helps us follow the path that power takes. We know better, now, how to stop it.

Dear People’s Action Family:

Well the rain held off but we brought the thunder today!

We just wrapped a kick-ass day of direct action aimed at multiple targets across the D.C. area and, as promised, we wanted to send out a quick round-up so you knew what we all did, in case you only saw some parts. Our targets were the people and corporations who profit off our pain, driving crises of climate disaster, rent hikes, health care costs, and needless overdose deaths. Because of you, they know we won’t lay down while they bleed our communities dry.

We started the day with a small team of courageous climate leaders and a 7am wake up call at the front door of John Dugan, the board chair for Citibank, one of the largest funders of dirty fossil fuel energy. We brought member leaders to tell their stories of climate breakdown and environmental damage in their home communities. John didn’t even bother answering the door, but more on that later. We left him complimentary lawn signs with the message, “Do good, John Dugan.” We also left a letter at his door demanding he take responsibility for the damage Citibank is causing to our people. 

At 9 a.m., 20 busloads full of convention attendees (i.e. social justice warriors) boarded buses and made our way downtown to the headquarters of the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) to deliver a simple message: “The rent is too damn high!” Tenant leaders, backed by hundreds of People’s Action members, shared stories of poor living conditions and rent hikes by corporate landlords who are dues-paying members of NMHC. At the same time as the rally, tenant leaders met with NMHC to discuss tenant protections in multifamily complexes purchased with federally backed mortgages. We made our priorities loud and clear–promising that we’d be back to hold them accountable.

high_rent.jpgphoto: Deana Rutherford

Our power was visible from the room where we met with NMHC!

crowd_by_rae_breaux.jpgphoto by rae breaux

Then, we took to the streets. We marched along K Street–ground zero for greedy corporate lobbyists who put money in politician's pockets and push back against the people’s agenda. 

Next, we dialed up the pressure on John Dugan–the same guy from the morning wake up call–a double header! We paid a visit to the swanky downtown D.C. law offices where he works, refusing to let him duck us while Citibank hurts our health and communities. We took the lobby–while others surrounded the building–and staged a huge protest with oil barrels emblazoned with Dugan’s face and the words, “Citi Funds Climate Chaos.” The tension was high as we all pushed the limits, but as we chanted on Monday, “Ain’t no power like  the power of the people, ‘cause the power of the people don’t stop!”

From there, we paid a visit to American Health Insurance (Profiteers) Plans, the greedy lobbyist group for for-profit insurance companies. We brought members like Jenna, Malcolm, and Carly who were prepared to tell AHIP to their faces how painful and wrong it is when their corporate members deny health insurance claims so they can profit. They were not willing to take a meeting with us or sit down with us, but Cate Readling with The People’s Lobby and Sulma Arias, People’s Action’s executive director, insisted on securing a meeting with the organization’s leadership. They were able to slip into the building and talk with staff. We won’t give up until we get a confirmed meeting with the person with real power there!

photo by Rae Breauxhealth_care_crowd_by_rae_breaux.jpg

 Many of our members then took to Capitol Hill to meet with their elected officials to push for action on ending the war on drugs; securing tenant protections; ending profiteering in Medicare and passing Medicare for All; pushing back on insurance company interference in your doctor’s prescribed care; investing in our communities’ infrastructure; environmental justice; and more.

Finally, our members brought their stories of pain and loss from the overdose crisis and the drug war to the doorstep of the DEA Headquarters & Museum, exposing the reality of the militarized war on poor people. Our family brought with them a wall of pictures of people they lost to overdose and the violence of the war on drugs, celebrated the MAT Act victory, and recommitted to ending this attack on our communities.Tears were shed and compassion shared as we brought the pain to the front door of those that inflict it. 

At every stop, we made greedy corporations and the wealthy people that run them feel the power that the organizing revival can build–and gave them a preview of what’s to come as we keep our commitments to growing our base and building our strength. We thank you for your courage, and we thank you for standing up for our communities. 

In solidarity,

Sondra Youdelman

Overall Action Lead, People’s Action Campaigns Director

 P.S. Thank you also to all of you who took on roles and made miracles happen today! Whether you were on a leadership team for a site visit, served as a bus captain, a marshal, part of the energy team, an art & visual team member, on the press & social media team, served as a police or legal support liaison…YOU made history (6 actions in 1 day!)....congratulations and thank you for your passion and commitment.

woody woodruff


M.A. and Ph.d. from University of Maryland Merrill College of Journalism, would-be radical, sci-fi fan... retired to a life of keyboard radicalism...