People Against Injustice welcoming newcomers to projects

by Jane Mills, PAI

People Against Injustice is currently involved in several projects and newcomers are welcome to join us in our efforts.

  • On November 19, PAI hosted Sen. Gary Winfield to discuss upcoming justice-related legislative initiatives. Sen. Winfield reviewed the package of justice reforms just signed into law. Going forward, a promising political climate appears to exist for slashing the prison population; raising the maximum age of juveniles to 20 (from 18); and bail reform, which would attempt to eliminate or curtail cash bail. PAI supports these efforts and will be focusing attention on the design of the Public Defenders system in Connecticut as well as how to boost its resources. PAI is also examining some problems that may be addressed by policy or rule changes rather than legislative reform, such as obstacles faced by minors attempting to visit family members in Whalley Avenue jail, and several rules and practices in the state courts in New Haven related to defendants’ rights.
  • PAI’s NHPD Freedom of Information request: PAI has uploaded dozens of New Haven Police General Orders and procedures to the Internet in order to make these documents available to the public. They are the result of a Freedom of Information request that PAI submitted in October. PAI will be submitting a second request for confirmation of completeness, as the documents, though numerous, do not appear to be a complete set. The public can access, download and even comment on the data here http://tinyurl.com/PAI-NHPDdocs.
  • Upcoming event: In the coming weeks, PAI will be announcing an event tentatively set for late January. To receive announcements, check our Facebook page periodically for an update, or send us your e-mail address. Our url is http://www.facebook.com/PeopleAgainstInjustice. PAI can be reached at peopleagainstinjustice@riseup.net.

City of New Haven Board & Commission Membership

by Aaron Good, New Haven Votes Coalition

The City of New Haven has 45 different Boards and Commissions which are filled by over 300 New Haven citizens from all neighborhoods and all walks of life who volunteer to serve the city. These posts range from such highly visible assignments as the Board of Education, the Housing Authority of New Haven and the Police Board to many less visible, but equally vital posts such as the Commission on Disabilities, the Historic District Commission, and the New Haven Democracy Fund. The City is always looking for people to serve in these important volunteer posts. While there is generally no pay, the opportunity for civic engagement can be tremendously rewarding.

Please take time to learn more about the various Boards and Commissions. If you find one that interests you, contact the chairperson and attend one of its meetings.

If you decide that you are interested in serving, you can fill out the application (contact City Hall or www.newhavenvotes.org) and mail it to City Hall (Mayor’s Office, 165 Church St., New Haven CT 06510). You can either express your interest in one or more specific appointments, or the Mayor’s Office can identify an appropriate choice for you based on the information provided in your application. CURRENT LIST OF BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS See: http://www.cityofnewhaven.com/Government/pdfs/Commissions.pdf.

Fast Against Fracking

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.tuhus2@gmail.com.

Capitalism vs. the Climate vs. Spectra Energy

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.

Picket at Goodfellas for Wage Theft Leads to Arrest of Protest Leader

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.]

Dec. 10 Rally for Peace in New Haven: UN Human Rights Day

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.

Kathy Kelly & Tom B. K. Goldtooth awarded 2015 Gandhi Peace Award

Promoting Enduring Peace

goldtooth-kkellyThe 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.”

Voices for Creative Nonviolence: http://www.vcnv.org
Indigenous Environmental Network: http://www.ienearth.org

Remaking Connecticut’s Energy System to Embrace Community Energy Dec. 16, 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

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

Selected Writings of Fred Cervin Now Available!

The New Haven Bioregional Group has announced that a volume of writings by New Haven Bioregional Group co-founder Fred Cervin (1940-2013) has just been published.

The book, Earth Loyalty and Bioregional Practice, arrived just in time for the 10th anniversary of the Bioregional Group this fall.

The book is on sale for $12 each. Contact Maria Tupper (mariatupper@gmail.com) for details or to order a copy. http://www.newhavenbioregionalgroup.org

A Call to All Peace Activists! Oct. 12

by Alfred L. Marder, President, US Peace Council, amistad.nai@rcn.com

On Monday, Oct. 12, the coordinating committee of Peace and Planet held an International Conference in New York which coincided with the United Nations’ meeting to review the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Among other matters, we discussed our concerns about the present conflicts in Ukraine and Syria. There are 15 countries already involved in the fighting. Two nuclear weapon powers are facing each other. THE DANGER OF WORLD WAR 3 IS NOT UNREALISTIC!

We agreed that we would call for the following of the global peace movement:

  1. Aim for Dec. 10, United Nations Human Rights Day with the slogan PEACE IS A HUMAN RIGHT!
  2. Global actions on the local, regional and national level, leading up to Dec. 10.
    The US Peace Council convened several peace organizations immediately after the meeting to call for actions. We agreed that Nov. 11, the day World War 1 ended, should be a Day of Global Actions.

We are united on these demands:

  1. Immediate diplomatic negotiations to end the conflict in Syria involving all interested parties, especially the Syrian government.
  2. Removal of all NATO forces from the states bordering Russia. Dismantle NATO!
  3. Remove ALL foreign troops from Afghanistan.

There will be a vigil at 11 a.m. Nov. 11 on the New Haven Green, at the corner of Chapel and College streets. Nov. 11 is the day World War I ended. The overarching slogan will be STOP WORLD WAR 3.

Amistad Awards to take place Dec. 6

by Joelle Fishman, CT People’s World

This year’s Amistad Awards will be presented by the People’s World at 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6 at an anniversary rally in New Haven at Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School, 177 College Street, on the theme “Justice for All. In Solidarity with Black and Latino Youth. Stop the Right-wing Attacks.”
Jill Marks, Ciro Gutierrez and Cindy Harrity, three grass roots leaders and organizers, will receive the awards.

Special recognition will also be given to Edie Fishman marking her 80th year as a grass roots leader for justice since joining the YCL at age 14.

A cultural program in solidarity with Black and Latino youth struggling for survival, jobs and education will highlight the event.

Amistad Memorial Sculpture by Ed Hamilton

Amistad Memorial by sculptor Ed Hamilton

The annual awards are presented to allies by the People’s World on the occasion of the 96th anniversary of the Communist Party USA.

Jill Marks stepped up this year as an organizer with New Haven Rising. She was elected in the September primaries to represent Ward 28 on the New Haven Board of Alders, as part of the labor-community alliance majority. She is mother of six, choir director of her church and has worked alongside her husband Rev. Scott Marks for many years.

Ciro Gutierrez is a member leader of SEIU 32 BJ in Hartford. He is now on the negotiating committee in a key labor battle covering 2,000 building service workers, part of national contract negotiations. He has fought for justice for immigrant workers and janitors for many years. He immigrated from Peru, became a citizen and raised three children here.

Cindy Harrity organized for Communication Workers of America 1298 for ten years until her recent retirement due to health. She got involved in the fight for workplace fairness over health insurance as a part-time worker. She has since organized around the country and supports husband John Harrity’s work as president of the CT State Council of Machinists.

Tickets are $10. Ticket and adbook information is available at http://ctpeoplebeforeprofits.blogspot.com or call (203) 624-4254 or e-mail ct-pww@pobox.com.

Seymour CT Post Office Persists In Violating Federal Accessibility Laws

by Joseph A. Luciano, Founder, DRAG CT, ADA Education Project

I am inviting PAR readers to sign the on-line petition to ensure Architectural Access at the Seymour CT post office—and all other public accommodations, all state and local government buildings, facilities, parks, parking lots, building entrances, sidewalks, restrooms, aisles between restaurant tables, and service and cashier counters.

The petition is at this link: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/seymour-ct-post-office?source=s.fwd&r_by=3363627

Seymour’s post office refuses to comply with ADA 1990 and other federal laws to provide reasonable access and accommodation to elderly and disabled persons unable to climb the mountain of steps at its public entrance. It defiantly refuses to provide an access route to the ramp in the rear that elderly and disabled have been using for years. The postmaster shut down the ramp last year and now requires us to telephone for “appointments” to obtain services outdoors on the sidewalk at the public entrance. The location of “sidewalk service” is unreasonable because it is a longer trek—because of broken sidewalks and absent crosswalks and curbcuts. It’s also unreasonable because all elderly/disabled persons do not have or are not able to use cellphones. The USPS refuses to publish information in the media notifying persons of all abilities how to obtain service. Signage and a doorbell are absent at the entrance. What’s really egregious is that al fresco postal service out-doors on the sidewalk will not work in rain, summer heat waves, cold weather, and snow.

Joseph A. Luciano
33 DeForest Street A24
Seymour CT 06483
(203) 463-8323
DRAGconnecticut@yahoo.com

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