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I believe protest is key to successful democracy, even when it is messy. Protest to create a better world and fight injustice is the “good trouble” that Congressman John Lewis encouraged us to get into.

I encourage DC voters and youth to engage on important issues — like creating truly affordable housing and stopping displacement of Black and brown residents — and to hold elected officials accountable. Our community suffers when residents don’t speak up. Silence helps the displacers, not the displaced.

That’s why I participate in protest actions, including during my campaign, and why I used an interview with Sunrise Movement DC to applaud their track record of activism and show my support for protest. That includes protesting against me, if elected, to hold me accountable when necessary. 

I want to be clear that Sunrise Movement DC does not take orders from me. That’s the way it should be. Authentic action comes from the people. Elected officials and candidates work for the people, not the other way around. 

I believe it is wrong for any elected official or candidate to stifle the free speech rights of any resident or group by mischaracterizing their protest as terrorism. We only have to look to the current occupant of the White House to see how legitimate efforts to call for a society that values Black lives, fights the climate crisis, or protects our immigrant neighbors have been shamefully twisted — a clear attempt by those in power to stop necessary change by mislabeling it.

Let’s not use this moment to focus on those who try to stifle First Amendment protests. Instead, let’s focus on supporting the kinds of change that Sunrise Movement DC is calling for — like comprehensive rent control reform to fight gentrification and the rampant displacement of working class Black and brown families and communities in the context of a Council that has resisted real rent control reform. 

As an advocate for two decades, and now a candidate for DC Council, I want DC to put economic and racial equity at the heart of our agenda, and fight for a moral budget that supports our most marginalized communities. That means fighting to end homelessness, investing in affordable housing, and stopping evictions. It means investing in education and digital equity. It means making sure we have a hospital east of the river with an appropriate trauma center, neonatal unit, and cancer clinic. It means reimagining public safety to shift away from traditional policing that has too often targeted Black and brown people. It means making DC government more transparent and accountable to residents. 

I hope you will join me by engaging in active steps to hold elected officials accountable. That includes using your voice at the ballot box to elect people who will fight for real change in the District. I urge us all to focus on housing, education, health, and fighting for a more just DC. We can’t accept distractions from the change we need.

Paid for by Ed Lazere for DC Council At-Large, P.O. Box 4563, Washington, DC 20017. Joslyn “Jos” Williams, Treasurer. A copy of our report is filed with the Director of Campaign Finance of the District of Columbia Board of Elections.

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