What Happened

As members of Lawrence DSA and its affiliate, KU YDSA, we are ashamed that these actions have happened within our organization. We each joined Lawrence DSA because we believe that a better world is possible, and with the hope of building an uplifting community of people who work as equals to address the needs of our community, and to build that better world.  However, it has become clear that Lawrence DSA is not building that better world, but is instead perpetrating the abuses of our existing world. Manipulators and abusers have found a home within Lawrence DSA and have used our organizing space to groom and harm our comrades. After deep consideration, our brave comrades have come forward with their experiences to help ensure that these abuses will not continue, and that these events will not remain a harmful secret. We encourage you to read the statements of those affected by their behavior but please be aware that many of the experiences related in this document involve sexual abuse.

We cannot build a better world on a foundation of sexual assault and harrassment – for the safety of all Lawrence DSA members and our surrounding community, three of our members must be ejected as soon as possible: Brian Thomas, Dan Jensen, and Leo Niehorster-Cook 

Brian Thomas
@bthom37 @thestuffsetting
Dan Jensen
@genericdsaguy @joofttweets
Leo Niehorster-Cook

We cannot build a better world with leaders who conceal abuse and protect abusers – for the safety of all Lawrence DSA members and the DSA as a national organization, two of our members must be censured and/or ejected as soon as possible: Sam Allison-Natale, Treasurer and member of the Lawrence DSA Steering Committee, and Hannah Allison-Natale, chair of the chapter’s Labor Committee and member of the National Political Committee.

Sam Allison-Natale and Hannah Allison-Natale received these reports from our members and rather than follow best practices to address sexual abuse, they instead chose to conceal the incidents, protect the abusers, ignore the victims, and in the most egregious case, actively obstructed our comrade’s requests for help and support. In the meantime, Leo Niehorster-Cook remained the de facto leader of KU YDSA in Lawrence, in addition to remaining heavily involved with the Lawrence DSA Electoral Working Group; Brian Thomas is a key member of the Electoral Working Group and is leading the production of our Lawrence DSA  voter guide. 

Sam Allison-Natale
@pubicdefender
Hannah Allison-Natale
@syllabussmasher

Hannah Allison-Natale and Sam Allison-Natale worked to protect the abusers and conceal their actions. Steering Committee members have attempted to resolve conflicts with Hannah Allison-Natale and Sam Allison-Natale in good faith with conflict resolution meetings in the past. In multiple cases they have exhibited aggressive, manipulative, and bullying behavior and were told to stop. At no point did they change their behavior.

These five members (Brian Thomas, Dan Jensen, Leo Niehorster-Cook, Hannah Allison-Natale, Sam Allison-Natale) have used the social capital built by our members to abuse our comrades, to gaslight and manipulate our community, and to break the trust of our democratic community. 

In addition to the enabling actions of Hannah Allison-Natale and Sam Allison-Natale, the National DSA should bear a share of the responsibility. We appropriately escalated to the National Harassment/Grievance Office of DSA by following the directions on our National DSA website, which directed us to reach out by email – the response to our email was a Kafka-esque directive to  follow the directions on the website. Even our own bylaws contain no relief, as they grant Sam Allison-Natale, as a Steering Committee Member, power over the grievance process. 

To recap, we reported abuse, attempted to engage in conflict resolution, attempted to seek relief through our local bylaws, and finally, requested support from our National organization. It is clear that our only hope of redress is to use the direct action tactics that we would use for any landlord, boss, elected leader, or other abuser and publicize these events. In solidarity with our comrades whose accounts are contained herein, we will be terminating our memberships with Lawrence DSA and our National DSA organization.

I Have Experienced Abuse Within DSA.

You are not alone. If you have questions or concerns, or would like to reach other affected members, please  email dsabusers@protonmail.com. To reach the Lawrence DSA grievance officers, email hgo@lawrencedsa.com.

What Can I Do to Help?

To create a better Lawrence DSA, we must address these abusers and enablers.  If we believe that Lawrence DSA is worth saving, it will be up to us to take action – there is no one coming to save us. Article 3, Section 2 of Lawrence DSA bylaws detail the procedure for the removal of Brian Thomas, Dan Jensen, and Leo Niehorster-Cook, the abusers, and Article 8, Section 4 of Lawrence DSA bylaws detail the procedure for recall of Hannah Allison and Sam Allison-Natale, the enablers. You can access Lawrence DSA bylaws online at: bit.ly/lkdsabylaws.

This is Awful – I’m Out!

In solidarity with our comrades whose accounts are contained herein, we will be terminating our memberships and removing our information from the databases which are accessible to these abusers and enablers. If you no longer feel comfortable organizing with Lawrence DSA or would like to join us in solidarity with our comrades who have been abused, you can view and change your membership status at bit.ly/dsaaccount (this page has been changed to redirect to the DSA home page, to change your membership status send a brief email to membership@dsausa.org) and email us at dsabusers@protonmail.com.