Updated: I've since restarted conversations with the local chapter after being dismissed by the DSA National Grievance Officer.
What follows is a copy of my appeal to the national organization of Democratic Socialists of America. Due to an unfortunate series of events, members of the Twin Cities chapter of DSA are seeking to have me expelled from the organization for a period of three years. My seemingly biggest crime being a series of tweets directed at one of their members who led an attempt to create an Afro-Socialist Chapter; though it is interesting to note that this person is not of African descent themselves, at all.
Regardless, I'm making my appeal public as it has been a few weeks since it was first sent, and I've yet to receive a response. In all likelihood, time is being taken to formulate an argument to maintain the expulsion, because lord knows this colonial institutions are incapable of apologizing.
So it goes ... enjoy!
# On what grounds are you claiming a basis for an appeal?
✓ The conduct of which I was accused was not interpreted according to Resolution 33's harassment standards
✓ Procedural errors, misconduct, or conflicts of interest affected the fairness of the outcome
✓ The remedy or penalty determined by the Chapter's Steering Committee was grossly disproportionate to the violation committed (too severe)
# Defense for this grievance appeal is given below:
My conduct did not rise to the level of a formal grievance. I have thoroughly reviewed Resolution 33 and I do not believe that any of my behavior could be described as harassment, stalking, or any other claim. I sent a few Tweets to the @TwinCitiesDSA account regarding the specific incident outlined above, and being excluded from the organization, and other concerns. For example, I have some concerns regarding some Twin Cities DSA members, including Nazir Khan, who was also involved in the Afro-Socialist caucus charter, being involved with and protecting activists that have exhibited known predatory behavior and that have previously been called out by many (primarily women) in the Twin Cities activist community. Calling out negative behaviors of others or objecting to others associating themselves with known predators is not stalking or harassment. My Twitter handle is @CultureClap if you would like to review these tweets.
It should be noted that I am currently living in Medellin, Colombia, although I have deep roots in the Twin Cities activist community, having been adopted there; while my child still lives there as well. I pose no direct physical threat and am unable to directly physically interact with anyone in the TCDSA community.
Lastly, as a newcomer to this organization that was basically shut out of it before I could make any legitimate inroads organizing, any claim of creating a hostile environment for others is toxic gas-lighting. If anything, I should be filing a grievance against the TCDSA chapter for exclusionary behavior.
- As far as procedural errors, Resolution 33, Section 2.d.II. states that the HGO’s will, “Contact the accused to notify them of the accusations, request their written response, and archive any written response”. I never received any information on what the specific accusations against me were/are per TCDSA's email from 4/1/2020. The email from the grievance committee actually only indicates that there were “concerns” and that they wished to go over community agreements. Therefore, I had no way of reasonably defending myself as there were not even any accusations made. I was not asked for a written response, as is required in this resolution provision.
Section 2.c.i.1. states “The HGO(s) responsible for the reporting channel used by the accuser will contact the accused member within seven days to notify them that a report has been filed against them and request a written response to the report either affirming or denying its substance”. This additionally did not occur. I never was told a report was filed, I have never seen a report, and I don’t know what was contained in a report. Again, I had no ability here to reasonably defend myself.
Lastly, I was shut out of the chapter before adjudication of this grievance and asked not to participate. This effectively leveraged punishment against me before I could defend myself (see 4/17 email from the grievance committee.)
- Regarding the punishment: after no specific claims or means to defend myself per Article 33, I was told that I was expelled from DSA for 3 years. This is outrageous, considering that I formally attended exactly one DSA meeting, was not told what the grievance leveraged against me was about, and was not given an opportunity to defend myself. From resolution 33 3c.i.1., the first remedy listed is “A formal discussion between the accused and the Steering Committee to develop a plan to change the harassing behavior(s);”. This discussion never occurred. The chapter leadership moved to 33 3c.i.4., which is expulsion from the greater body of the organization, bypassing several other remedies, including suspension from events and committee meetings. I am stunned that this occurred without even a conversation with myself.
# If the original grievance was granted, how would you like your Grievance Appeal to be resolved?
- A Finding That My Conduct Did Not Violate DSA's Harassment Policy and Punishment Suspended or Undone
- The Imposition of a Less Severe Punishment
- Imposition of a Shorter Term of Punishment
- Other or Different Resolution of the Grievance
# Please elaborate on the option you selected above.###
In March 2020, I was invited to participate in the formation of the Twin Cities DSA Afro-Socialist caucus by Isuru Herath. This was my second contact with the DSA and the Twin Cities DSA chapter. The first was my participation in a candidate Q & A, where I contributed a single question for the candidate, which seemed to be appreciated by the rest of the participants, and after which I remained silent.
Regarding the Afro-Socialist caucus, one initial zoom meeting was conducted which I attended on 3/27/2020. There were no issues expressed with myself or my behavior during this meeting or after the meeting, to me. Before and after this meeting, I participated in an informal, non-DSA sanctioned group chat with DSA members that were working on chartering the Afro-Socialist caucus. Soon after the meeting, people in the chat stopped participating or responding to me. I never got another invitation to a meeting after this, though attempted to host a meeting, as Nazir, acting as the leader, was unable to maintain the schedule of meetings decided at the initial meeting; and so the second meeting was convened until after I had been effectively expelled from the caucus.
I was excluded from the organization leadership, even though I’d requested to participate in future organizing, and that request had been acknowledged and affirmed by the group’s leadership.
I was very frustrated by being excluded after being invited to participate and expressed that to a few members, informally in this chat, questioning if back-channeling was happening. Another participant, AW contacted me and he affirmed that people had been instructed not to interact with me.
Since this event, it is my understanding that, the Afro-Socialist caucus charter’s planning is no longer moving forward; as after this incident with me, the group became stagnant. AW is no longer involved in DSA either, as he has since, “connected to more Black brown indigenous led organizations since [he] better align[s] with them.”
Several weeks after the initial Zoom meeting, I received an email from the grievance committee requesting a meeting (TCDSA 4/17/2020 email). This email did not list any reason for initiating proceedings or any specific claims. At this point, I was frustrated enough that I requested a dues refund. It was suggested that I could file a grievance with the national office; and in the process of pursuing this avenue of recourse, I have since learned that I have been given a 3 year ban on participation in any DSA branch.
In closing, I am a brown indigenous man, descendant of the Mhuysca in reunion with my family and in connection with my grandmother who still lives on the land of our family in the Andes mountains, who was invited to participate in the formation of the TCDSA Afro-Socialist caucus. After one meeting and very brief participation in which it appeared that I was actively being excluded, I was expelled from the organization.
This is painful and harmful to myself, is fully detrimental to the Twin Cities DSA, the Twin Cities wider activist community, and has colored my opinion of the DSA as a whole. Additionally, procedural misconduct has affected the legitimacy of this entire process.
I am seeking restitution and reinstatement to the chapter, if I so choose to participate in the future, as well as an explanation and an apology as to why this occurred. Additionally, if I did offend someone or a group of people, I would appreciate the opportunity to make this right.
Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to your response.