by Melinda Tuhus, environmental activist and journalist
The bad news is that fracked gas pipelines exist and more are proposed all over the country. The good news is the same, meaning the front lines of the battle are everywhere, involving thousands of people – property owners, students, climate activists. Beyond Extreme Energy (BXE) was born in July 2014 when a group sat in and was arrested in D.C. at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), a quasi-governmental agency (funded by the industries that it regulates) that approves gas infrastructure, including interstate pipelines, storage facilities, compressor stations and super-high polluting liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals. We have done three multi-day actions at FERC in the past year. From September 8-25, a dozen members of BXE conducted an 18-day, water-only fast in front of FERC headquarters, demanding No New Permits.
Why a fast? Despite opponents attending meetings, speaking at public hearings, filing comments on dockets of proposed pipelines, carrying out civil disobedience in which hundreds of people have been arrested both at FERC and at various sites – all without having much of an impact – members of BXE determined that a fast would be a different kind of action and could reach the hearts of people in a way these other actions hadn’t. We distributed thousands of handouts and talked to hundreds of people, including FERC employees and even the chairman of the Commission.
I provided logistical support for the fast, including driving the van, writing flyers and contacting the media. We all stayed together at night at a D.C. church. And we didn’t just sit around at FERC – we were very active in supporting other issues and events, like the culmination of the NAACP’s Journey for Justice from Selma to D.C.; a major press conference to support Bernie Sanders’s Keep It in the Ground bill in the Senate to end permitting for fossil fuel extraction on public lands; a climate-conscious Yom Kippur service at the Lincoln Memorial and events related to Pope Francis’s visit to D.C.
No, FERC didn’t stop issuing permits – yet. But we feel we changed the tone of the conversation, solidified our commitment to stopping fracked gas and its infrastructure, and mutually expanded our connections with many other groups like Black Lives Matter, faith-based communities, and climate justice workers around the country.
For more information about BXE or groups in CT working on this issue, email me at Melinda.firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Joan Cavanagh, archivist and director, GNHLHA
Nick was a long time organizer and business agent for the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America Local 125. Raised on Wallace Street, he came from a family of Italian-American garment workers. From a family of 14, Nick had seven sisters, all of whom worked in the industry for years. The pre-union conditions were “horrible,” as Nick described in an interview published in Anthony Riccio’s The Italian American Experience in New Haven: Images and Oral Histories, 2006:
“When New York got completely organized, the ‘runaway shops’… ran to New Haven where there were no union shops. And they would open up a storefront. They’d put twenty, thirty machines on the fourth floor and most of the stitching plants were on the fourth floor with no elevator … Then in the 1930s came the Amalgamated and they started organizing drives in the area.”
Nick also brought his passion as a union organizer to other endeavors, as a member of the New Haven Board of Aldermen, as Commissioner for the New Haven Housing Authority and as a leader for the Greater New Haven Central Labor Council.
In 1988, recognizing the importance of keeping labor and working class history alive for present and future generations, Nick co-founded the Greater New Haven Labor History Association with other labor activists. He was active in the organization for the rest of his life.
GNHLHA will honor Nick as part of our 2016 annual conference and meeting. Tentative date: June 5th.
by Dan Fischer, Capitalism vs. the Climate
Early in the morning of Nov. 16, Bernardo McLaughlin of Capitalism vs. the Climate (CvC) obstructed the start of the work for Spectra Energy, locking himself to equipment at a compressor station in Chaplin, CT that Spectra is expanding as part of a massive expansion of fracked gas pipeline infrastructure. Police removed and arrested McLaughlin after he had disrupted construction for nearly three hours.
“I placed my body here because we’re out of options. The political class has decided they can survive climate catastrophe and written the rest of us off as acceptable losses. Nobody is coming to save us. Our only hope is organized grassroots power and direct action,” said McLaughlin.
Spectra’s billion-dollar “AIM Project” creates an incentive for increased fracking, a dangerous method of extracting methane gas from shale fields. Spectra plans to build part of the pipeline, which carries highly-flammable gas, just one hundred feet from New York state’s Indian Point nuclear power plant, running the risk of catastrophic injury to tens of thousands of people. The engineer Paul Blanch has said that a disaster at this part of the pipeline could cause the release of more radioactive materials than were released in Japan’s 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
The Federal Regulatory Commission has said that the Chaplin area construction would directly impact Mansfield Hollow State Park, twelve streams, two wetlands and habitat for state-protected species.
So far, activists have been arrested 66 times in the campaign against Spectra’s pipeline expansion. The actions have had an impact. Last week, dozens willing to risk arrest in West Roxbury, MA, arrived at a vacant construction site. Spectra had abruptly decided to pause construction in West Roxbury until the spring. Meanwhile, Spectra has been seeking $30,000 in damages from three protesters who nonviolently blocked construction in Burrillville, RI, in September. Activists see Spectra’s extreme responses as a scare tactic to deter future demonstrations and as an acknowledgment that the ongoing blockades and lock-downs are effectively disrupting the company’s construction plans.
You can help out with Bernardo’s legal costs at http://bit.ly/CVC-Action.
For the first time since World War II, at the close of a long night of terrorist attacks on Nov. 13, France found itself under mandatory curfew. Since the announcement that France would treat this as an “act of war,” over 150 counter-terrorism raids have taken place. A manhunt is raging, not to mention the bombing of the capital of ISIS in Syria.
The events that have transpired in France are a stark reminder of the violent and challenging world we live in. We mourn the loss of life of our brothers and sisters from acts of terrorism and condemn the violence that caused that loss of life.
We should be clear about where this problem of rapidly metastasizing terrorism comes from. Our problem has consistently been us – nations with power and influence. Instead of using diplomatic means to solve crises, we have turned to military strategies that have lead us farther and farther down the wrong path. Even our president has admitted that using the military to solve this problem seems futile. So killing and maiming many innocent civilians in pursuit of terrorists will likely make things worse, not better. Sadly, the very people we’ll be bombing in Syria and elsewhere hold the key to the solution. It will take the work of the citizens of this region to make their situations better. Anything else will lead to more displacement.
We should also remember that what happened in Paris on that Friday night happens with regularity in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan. These countries experience similar tragedies yet don’t receive the goodwill bestowed upon the French. Most days they are ignored. While it doesn’t diminish the horror and sadness that we should all feel at what Parisians have experienced, it certainly makes you wonder where we draw the line when it comes to human suffering. Are Iraqis, Syrians, Yemenis, Afghans or Lebanese somehow less deserving? We should view a loss of life anywhere just as deserving of international solidarity and support. Anything less is hypocrisy.
[Full text of letter was printed for the Nov. 22 Sunday vigil leaflet and can be read at http://newhavensundayvigil.wordpress.com.]
by Unidad Latina en Acción
On Nov. 20, 2015, New Haven Police arrested John Lugo, one of the leaders of Unidad Latina en Acción (ULA), during a workers’ rights protest outside Goodfellas Restaurant. “You have no right to be here,” said the police to ULA. (Video at http://www.facebook.com/ULANewHaven/videos)
Stand with us: We will not be silenced. We will not be intimidated.
We have been picketing Goodfellas for 6 months. We have been picketing businesses that steal wages from workers for 10 years, and we will not stop. Arrest the owner of Goodfellas, not the peaceful protesters. Wage theft is a crime. Protesting for our human rights is not a crime. The CT Department of Labor and US DOL have found Gerry Iannaccone, owner of Goodfellas, guilty of stealing from dozens of workers. Yet this crime goes unpunished.
New Haven gets a lot of credit for being a welcoming city for immigrants. Is New Haven a welcoming city when immigrants are criminalized for peaceful protest and wage theft goes unpunished? Unidad Latina en Acción is currently supporting workers in cases of wage theft and discrimination in Goodfellas, Gourmet Heaven, 116 Crown, Thai Taste, Fair Haven Clam & Oyster, El Buen Gusto, La Carreta, among other local businesses.
In a press conference in 2014, Chief Esserman stated that wage theft is a crime under Connecticut law and that the NHPD is willing to act to enforce that law. In spite of those good words, the NHPD is doing the opposite: punishing the victims of wage theft and their advocates. On Nov. 6, 2015, Esserman walked into Goodfellas to eat dinner while ULA was picketing the restaurant, ignoring our attempts to speak with him. On Nov. 20, after the NHPD arrested John Lugo, one of the officers entered the restaurant and came out with a bag of food for the police. NHPD, which side are you on?
This is not the first time that the NHPD has colluded with the owner of Goodfellas to intimidate workers. In 2011, ULA filed an internal affairs complaint against NHPD after a sergeant demanded that protesters show ID at a workers’ rights picket outside Goodfellas, and he threatened that the owner of Goodfellas would use the IDs to create a “blacklist” so that protesters would not be employed by other restaurants. [See: http://www.nhregister.com/general-news/20110122/complaint-filed-against-new-haven-cops-over-goodfellas-protest.]
by Mary Compton, Greater New Haven Peace Council
The International Coordinating Committee of the Peace and Planet Conference, held in New York recently, called for public expressions on Dec. 10, United Nations Human Rights Day.
Many U.S. Peace organizations nationally have agreed to organize public expressions on Dec. 10, heralding the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights to create a peaceful world.
The Greater New Haven Peace Council and the City of New Haven Peace Commission have initiated a call for peace and will sponsor a public meeting on Thursday, Dec. 10 at noon, at the Amistad Statue in front of the New Haven City Hall. Speakers from a broad range of community organizations have been invited.
We call on all our friends who cherish peace to join us, to engage in creative peaceful, militant actions in our communities calling for ceasefires, an end to these wars, and peaceful inclusive negotiations including Syrian government. No U.S. troops to Syria. The human right to peace must be honored. Families, villagers and citizens have the right not to be violated by war. The enormous and irreplaceable resources spent on war are far better spent to address desperate human needs.
The surging dangers to world peace, including sending U.S. troops to engage in Syria, have created a crisis that with the slightest misstep can lead to World War 3. The bombings in France by terrorists are a blowback to the policies of accelerated aggression in the Middle East. The continued relations with the funders and sponsors of the various terrorist groups by the CIA and U.S. so-called allies, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have created a situation where U.S. weapons are fueling the terrorists and millions are fleeing for safety from the bombs for which the U.S. has a responsibility.
We must raise our voices for peace, against war! Insist on diplomacy and negotiations to end the wars in Syria, including the governments of Iran, Russia and Syria. Let us demand the Human Right to Peace.
The 38th presentation of the Gandhi Peace Award by the national organization Promoting Enduring Peace, located in New Haven, honored two world renowned peace leaders, Kathy Kelly and Tom B.K. Goldtooth. The ceremony was held at the United Church on the Green in New Haven on October 30.
Kathy Kelly is nationally known for her outspoken activism protesting the use of drones by the U.S. military. She co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence, a national campaign to end U.S. military and economic warfare. She has led protests in Gaza and is an international leader against the war in Iraq. She has served several prison sentences for her non-violent, militant activism against nuclear weapons and war. On April 21st Kelly was released from federal prison after serving a three month sentence for non-violently protesting drone warfare at Whiteman AFB which operates weaponized drones in Afghanistan.
Tom B. K. Goldtooth is Dine’ and Mdewakanton Dakota. He is the first Native American recipient of the Gandhi Peace Award. He is the national director of the Indigenous Environmental Network (http://www.ienearth.org) at Bemidji, Minnesota, and has been a leader in Native social, economic, and environmental justice issues for over 35 years. He works with Indigenous Peoples and organizations around the world advocating for environmental and climate justice. He is co-producer of the award winning documentary film, “Drumbeat For Mother Earth,” which has received critical acclaim for its exposure of the effects of bio-accumulative chemicals on Indigenous communities. In 2010 he was honored by the Sierra Club and by the NAACP as a “Green Hero of Color.”
by Shelly Altman, Jewish Voice for Peace
The New Haven Peace Council and Jewish Voice for Peace New Haven are presenting the film Roadmap to Apartheid. In this award-winning documentary, the directors take a detailed look at the apartheid analogy commonly used to describe the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Narrated by Alice Walker (author of The Color Purple), and directed by white South African Ana Nogueira and Jewish Israeli Eron Davidson, Roadmap to Apartheid is as much a historical document of the rise and fall of apartheid in South Africa as it is a film about why many Palestinians feel they are living in an apartheid system today, and why an increasing number of people around the world agree with them.
The film will next be presented Saturday, Dec. 5, 2 p.m., at the New Haven Free Public Library, 133 Elm St. Help us bring the issue of Israeli apartheid to public attention. We are ready to bring this documentary and a speaker to community groups that want to learn more about this issue. You can see a trailer of the film at http://roadmaptoapartheid.org.
Acadia Center invites Connecticut residents to a discussion at the NH Free Public Library that will focus on how the energy needs of communities in particular can be better served by changes in policy and decision making. How do we make sure that the current clean energy revolution puts Connecticut’s communities at its center?
The gathering will feature an expert discussion on how communities can be empowered to take control of their energy costs and needs through new approaches and policy innovations. Our expert panelists will be: Scudder Parker, Senior Policy Adviser, Vermont Energy Investment Corporation; Jonathan Glass, President & Co-Founder, Wise Labs; Jamie Howland, Director, Energy Efficiency and Demand-Side Initiative, Acadia Center.
Select topics will include: (1) creating a sustainable energy utility to better serve community energy needs, (2) exploring the community benefits offered by smart LED streetlights, and (3) identifying notable community energy trends in the Northeast. This discussion will be followed by breakout groups of attendees to further explore specific issues in depth. We hope you will join us at the NH Free Public Library, 133 Elm St.
Acadia Center is a non-profit, research and advocacy organization committed to advancing the clean energy future. Acadia Center is at the forefront of efforts to build clean, low-carbon and consumer-friendly economies. Acadia Center provides accurate and reliable information, and offers a real-world and comprehensive approach to problem solving through innovation and collaboration. http://www.acadiacenter.org
Monday, Dec. 7, 6 – 7 p.m.
A Child’s Christmas In Wales. A special holiday treat! A dramatic reading with actor Colin Lane and musician Becca Zaretzky, who performed at the library two years ago to a standing-room-only crowd. Originally written for radio, Dylan Thomas’ poem is told from the viewpoint of a young child and celebrates Christmases past, portraying a nostalgic and simpler time. Info: Marie Jarry (203) 946-8129.
Thursday, Dec. 10, 6 – 7 p.m.
New Haven Guitar Quartet. a newly-formed ensemble of guitarists from Yale University dedicated to exploring the expressive possibilities of the guitar quartet. Members Daniel Corr, Katrin Endrikat, John Kossler and Trevor Babb perform both original and transcribed works, ranging from the Renaissance to the Contemporary. Info: Ashley Sklar (203) 946-8835.
Monday, Dec. 21, 10:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Dignity Music Concert Series: A Program of Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Albrechtsberger. Ravenna Michalsen, a cellist and active participant in the CT musical scene, received a Mayor’s Community Arts Grant for the Dignity Music concert series which brings classical music to homeless shelters, breakfast programs, soup kitchens and other New Haven venues. Bethany Wilder joins her for this concert on viola and cello. Info: Ashley Sklar (203) 946-8835.
For a complete schedule, go online to http://calendar.nhfpl.org/cal/main/showMainEnd.rdo.