The DSA wants to change your brake lights



The New Orleans chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) inspired several chapters around the U.S. with its brake light repairs, where volunteers replaced car tail lights for 67 drivers at two clinics in August and September — free of charge.

DSA New Orleans holds another "Gimme A Brake (Light)" clinic from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11 at 2940 Destrehan Ave. in Harvey.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, traffic stops made up 42 percent of contacts between police and citizens in 2011. Three percent of all stops resulted in a search of the driver, vehicle or both. In a 2017 report that scraped data from 31 states between 2011-2015, The Stanford Open Policing Project found Black and Hispanic drivers are twice as likely as whites to be searched when they are stopped.

"Changing a brake light is not typically difficult or expensive. However, being stopped by a police officer for having a brake light out can be both," writes Kaitlin Marone with DSA New Orleans. "A ticket can cost a significant amount of a working person’s earnings. If that person has a warrant out for their arrest due to unpaid tickets or something like that, they might be detained and arrested. This means more fines. It can also be quite disruptive to a person’s life  —  they might miss work or be unable to care for their children."

The DSA's national membership has reached more than 30,000 as of earlier this month. Its membership has quintupled over the last year — a New Orleans branch grew from a handful of dues-paying members to more than 70 within its first few months after it was formally recognized earlier this year. A Baton Rouge organizing committee was recognized by the national organization in September. 

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