POUGHKEEPSIE – The Mid-Hudson Valley Democratic Socialist Association is increasing its presence in the region with outreach programs such as a “Brake Light Clinic” they held in Poughkeepsie on Sunday.
The group of volunteers hosted a coat giveaway last month at the Earline Patrice Mansion Square Park that provided dozens of free coats to those in need. On this most recent Sunday, several DSA volunteers gathered in the parking lot of the Exempt Firemen’s Association to offer free brake light repair for cars along with food and clothing distribution at no charge.
Scott Koerwer, a DSA volunteer, was joined by a group of fellow activists on the cold and windy day to provide the services and introduce people to the DSA and their platform.
“DSA believes we are stronger when we work together and come out and try to support each other. We are trying to have a recurring presence Orange, Dutchess, Ulster to come out and offer food services for people who need it and to let everybody know we are trying to build this community and help each other out,” he said.
Koerwer said, “Faulty brake lights are something that cops will pull you over for and sometimes they’ll give you a ticket and sometimes the situation will turn into something else. We’re trying to help people avoid a situation when they get pulled over.”
The DSA is gathering to help people in the region on a more frequent basis, noted Koerwer. “We’re trying to build the community up,” and noted that the organization is working to provide a variety of programs on a monthly basis.
According to the statement posted on their website, the “Democratic socialists believe that our economy should be built democratically, by and for working people, not by billionaires for profit. We know our economic system is rooted in white supremacy and the capitalist class depends on racism to divide and oppress the working class.”
Dutchess County Legislator Barrington Atkins represents the City of Poughkeepsie and helped organize the event. Atkins is not a member of the group and explained his support, saying “any event that serves to truly help the Poughkeepsie community I support.” The freshman lawmaker also claimed that the brake light program helps ease tensions between police and the community. “Too often people living in underserved communities are targeted for traffic violations that produce unnecessary tense situations for both the police and our community. This particular event aims to help curb some of this disturbing behavior. Things are very tense with the community and police especially during these times and this program is doing something very simple, changing light bulbs on cars that may otherwise be pulled over. By doing this we decrease or avoid an unnecessary tense interaction.”