Two Renowned Peace Leaders for this Year’s Gandhi Peace Award Oct. 30

by Mary Compton, Promoting Enduring Peace

The 38th presentation of the Gandhi Peace Award by the national organization Promoting Enduring Peace, located in New Haven, will honor two world renowned peace leaders, Kathy Kelly and Tom B.K. Goldtooth. The ceremony will be held at the United Church on the Green in New Haven, on Friday, Oct. 30, at 7 p.m.

The Gandhi Peace Award recognizes the outstanding contributions to world peace by its recipients.
Tom B. K. Goldtooth is Dine’ and Mdewakanton Dakota. He is the first Native American recipient to receive the Gandhi Peace Award. He is the national director of the Indigenous Environmental Network (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.”

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.

Tickets available at the door: $10; Students-Free

Advance tickets available online at www.pepeace.org

Contact: Mary Compton (203) 230-1312

gandhipeaceaward.org

Nonviolent Direct Action Training for Climate Justice (Willimantic)

by Dan Fischer, Capitalism vs. Climate

Nonviolent direct action training will be held at the Covenant Soup Kitchen at 220 Valley Street in Willimantic, one Saturday in October (date not yet confirmed) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.. This is a training for people in Connecticut interested in taking direct action for climate justice this fall as part of Rising Tide North America’s Flood the System mobilization. #FloodtheSystem is a callout this fall to flood, blockade, occupy and shut down the systems that jeopardize our future! Read more about it here: floodthesystem.net.

The training is being organized by Capitalism vs. the Climate, a Rising Tide chapter.
Please register at goo.gl/forms/S4qHjDu36B. Share this event by emailing friends. The following agenda is subject to change based on feedback you provide us directly through the registration form. For specific questions about the training, please email dfischer@riseup.net.

Flood the System Training – What is Flood the System? What would an intersectional movement look like? Critique and strategic analysis. Offer the opportunity for participants to join in an existing Action Council or encourage them to start their own.

Introduction to Nonviolent Direct Action & Affinity Group Building – An introduction to the history of NVDA and implementation as well as examples of intersectionality within our community, affinity groups and their formation, consensus decision making, self-care and community care, action roles, and introduction to blockading.

Traditional Media and Social Media in Action – Training on how traditional media and social media intertwine with one another going into an action. How to create a media time line, write a press advisory and release, media action roles; how to use social media to amplify your action and create a narrative; online editing tools and social media logistics.

Continued Strategy & Research – This is an opportunity for participants to continue the conversation from the morning FTS Training and to transition into a workshop on strategy and research. Participants can talk about what they hope to see during Flood the System, how to build an intersectional movement leading into a discussion on choosing shared targets, research, and scouting.

Announcing New Haven’s Energy Task Force and Environmental Advisory Council

by Paula Panzarella, Energy Task Force

Since this past March, a number of New Haven residents and representatives of environmental organizations have been meeting once a month to develop an Energy Task Force (ETF). On Sept. 21, the New Haven Board of Alders unanimously approved the creation of an Environmental Advisory Council (EAC). Once the EAC is developed, it is hoped the ETF will be empowered to 1) become the expert on all aspects of the production, use and conservation of energy in New Haven, 2) evaluate the best methods for all segments of the city to become energy efficient and carbon neutral as quickly as possible, 3) inform the administration, Board of Alders and residents on these issues and 4) propose, encourage and evaluate actions to achieve the goals of energy efficiency and end our reliance on fossil fuels as quickly as possible.

Until then, programs that ETF members have been working on include popularizing solar power and the different programs that make it affordable for low-income communities and others; working with the City and State legislature to have more clean energy and energy-efficient programs in place; and networking with Energy Task Forces in other CT towns and businesses and organizations that promote clean energy to discuss how their successes may work in New Haven.

For more information, you can e-mail newhavenenergytaskforce@gmail.com, or phone Annie Harper at (203) 668-1213, or Paula and Frank Panzarella at (203) 562-2798.

ACT to Get Congress to Support the Iran Agreement

by Henry Lowendorf, Greater New Haven Peace Council

Prompt action is needed to move Senator Blumenthal to support the Iran agreement and to counter the opposition he is hearing from constituents. At least $20 million is being spent by AIPAC to oppose the agreement. Specific actions are proposed below. A Senate vote will take place in early September.
In a meeting Aug. 10, Blumenthal said he will vote for or against the Iran agreement based only on facts. He’s still gathering them. Blumenthal states he will take a course to avoid war. He says he is listening to his constituents – and to his credit he spent an hour with our delegation.

We don’t have to be disarmament experts to readily see that the President is right: either we accept this agreement or we will see Israeli and US war hawks pushing for an attack on Iran. They have been calling for a war on Iran for decades. The war hawks disliked the agreement before it was signed, before they saw it, before it was negotiated. In Congress. This bellicosity comes largely, but not exclusively, from Republicans, who also want to sink anything progressive coming from the Obama White House. They are bombarding our representatives with calls to stop the Iran Agreement.

Whatever we think of the Iranian government and its policies, Iran consistently every year since 1974 has called for a nuclear-weapons free Middle East. The US, Israel and a very few allies have opposed such a zone. Currently only Israel and the US have nuclear arsenals in the region.

The intelligence and disarmament agencies state that Iran has no nuclear weapons program. Iran’s clerical leaders have continually stated that possessing nuclear weapons is a sin. For over 200 years Iran has attacked no other country. The same cannot be said for the US or Israel.

The peace agreement, a diplomatic success, is the surest way to prevent another escalation of war in the Middle East. The war hawks want diplomacy to fail. If a policy of diplomacy rather than war is to be given a chance, then we must support this agreement. 29 nuclear physicists, including 4 Nobel laureates, wrote Obama supporting the agreement. Ambassadors, world leaders and the UN support it. HELP this peace agreement. Call Sen. Richard Blumenthal’s office to support the agreement: (860) 258-6940. Urge friends to do so. We must not miss this chance to prove diplomacy works.

Showing Up for Racial Justice

by Jennifer Griffith, SURJ

In the mid-century struggle for civil rights, white anti-racist activist Anne Braden worked in alliance with African American leaders and later expressed that “the battle is and always has been a battle for the hearts and mind of white people in this country. The fight against racism is not something we’re called on to help people of color with. We need to become involved as if our lives depended on it because, in truth, they do.” In the past two years, we have collectively witnessed painful reminders that we do not live in a post-racial society. Today, as we experience a resurgence in activism against racism on a structural and individual level, white people are called to join these critical efforts again.

Alicia Garza, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, asserts: “We need you defecting from White supremacy and changing the narrative of White supremacy by breaking White silence.”

With this call to action in mind, Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), “a national network of groups and individuals organizing White people for racial justice,” will be holding its first planning meeting for the New Haven-area affiliate. This meeting will bring together local organizers, activists, educators, and concerned people who want to get involved in a larger community with racial justice as its primary goal. SURJ prioritizes ongoing relationships with local and national People of Color (PoC) activist groups focusing on police brutality, workers’ rights, and other racial justice issues. To maintain accountability, stay informed, and plan aligning efforts, the first meeting will identify current and potential connections within the local activist community. While promoting accountability, SURJ also strives to “call in, not call out” and to offer support to people at different experience levels.

In addition to the New Haven-area group, CT SURJ will also have a Hartford-based group, which is currently planning a film screening and a door-knocking campaign in the fall. For more information about SURJ in general, go to http://www.showingupforracialjustice.org.

For questions about the upcoming meeting and the New Haven-area affiliate, contact Jennifer Griffiths, jennifergriffiths68@gmail.com. For Hartford-area inquiries contact Cathy Rion Starr, crionstarr@uuma.org.

Learning Democracy

by Mary Johnson, Coalition for People

On Monday, Sept. 21, Coalition for People is hoping PAR readers and all others who are alarmed by the increasing loss of democracy in this nation and who want to reverse it will join us in that effort. We meet in the lower level of New Haven’s main library at the corner of Temple and Elm Streets at 5:45 p.m. You will find us in the northwest (rear left) corner.

Even though we think we should focus on New Haven and its schools (Pre-K to 12) as a start, some of you may want to start in other towns. The possibilities are great and we believe that sharing ideas, plans and energy can be achieved. We all realize that this project will take a long time. (The simple return of the bus stops in New Haven took 12 years.)

Back in the 1930s, 7th graders in New Haven not only learned about the infrastructure of the government on all levels and how they were supposed to work, but they began to understand the concept of democracy by exposure to the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence. We can go beyond that.

If you welcome this challenge or are just curious, let us know if you and/or friends can come on Monday, Sept. 21 at 5:45 p.m. We can be reached at (203) 387-7858 or at coalitionforpeople@hotmail.com.

International Day of Peace — Sunday, Sept. 20

by Frank Panzarella, board member, WRNSC

The West River neighborhood has been home to the United Nations dedicated peace garden for many years. The community has taken to heart its role and every year has sponsored an International Day of Peace Festival.

Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015 will see the 10th anniversary celebration and it will be a great day. All New Haven peace groups are urged to participate with tables or just come by and help make the day a success for all of New Haven. Contact Frank Panzarella for more information and to set up a table at (203) 562-2798 or by emailing frankpanzarella@hotmail.com.

A full day of activities will start at noon and run until 5 p.m. with music by Boogie Chillun, I.N.I.T.Y., free food, meditation, health screenings, activities for young people and much more.

The Nation Drill & Drum team will perform as well as Kode Red, poet Baub Bidon and singer Samantha Boisvert and statements will be read by clergy and community leaders.

The day is sponsored by the West River Neighborhood Services Corporation with help from Yale New Haven Health, Yale University, Continuum of Care and others.

In case of rain, the event will be held Sept. 27.

Honoring Ebenezer D. Bassett, First U.S. African American Ambassador, Sept. 12

by Al Marder, Amistad Committee, Inc.

The Amistad Committee, Inc. commemorates the contributions and life of U.S. Ambassador to Haiti, Ebenezer Bassett, Saturday, September 12 at 10 a.m. In celebration of September Freedom Trail Month, please join us in honoring the first African American appointed as Ambassador, Ebenezer D. Bassett.

Ebenezer D. Bassett, the first U.S. African American Ambassador

Ebenezer D. Bassett, the first U.S. African American Ambassador

Born in 1833, the son and grandson of renowned “Black Governors” of Connecticut, Mr. Bassett became the first African American accepted to New Britain’s State Normal School, the parent institution of Central Connecticut State University. Before becoming ambassador, Mr. Bassett was principal of Philadelphia’s Institute for Colored Youth, which became Cheney University, the nation’s first historically black college. New Haven was his home for many years.

Invited Speakers: Honorable Toni N. Harp, Mayor of New Haven, Marian O’Keefe, Preservation Consultant, Dr. Carl Lovitt, Provost, Central Connecticut State Univ., Dr. Alex DuGuy, Wesleyan University, “Haiti,” Grove Street Cemetery, 227 Grove St., for more information, call: (203) 387-0370. Email: Amistad.nai@rcn.com.

A reception will immediately follow at Jean Pope Park (adjacent to cemetery), sponsored by Yale University’s Office of New Haven and State Affairs and The Amistad Committee, Inc.

Two New ADA Advocacy Organizations Established

Joseph A. Luciano, Founder, DRAG Connecticut, ADA Education Project

When the U.S. Dept. of Justice and other ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) enforcement agencies are slow to act, property owners, municipalities, and places of public accommodation must be “dragged” by private individuals into ADA compliance. The general public is mostly unaware of the rights and responsibilities provided by ADA 1990. As a consequence, persons with disabilities encounter discrimination and architectural and mobility barriers nearly everywhere. Inexplicably, barriers are found at medical centers, doctors’ offices, post offices, malls, rest rooms, houses of worship, restaurants, and more.

DRAG Connecticut organized a protest rally at the Seymour post office on May 13. Elderly/disabled residents of down-town Seymour who were unable to climb the steps to the public lobby protested because the postmaster shut down the handicapped ramp at the rear and established a discriminatory policy requiring only elderly/disabled to telephone for service and wait on the sidewalk. The Center for Disability Rights supported this event by organizing transportation of CDR members to participate.  They also made the signs.

DRAG Connecticut wants the de facto handicapped ramp in the rear of the building re-opened—and an access route to it provided compliant with 25-year-old ADA mandates (de facto, because Seymour’s post office has been providing services on that ramp to people with disabilities for years. The ramp, therefore, acquired status as a handicapped ramp for disabled postal customers). Or, the USPS can lease an accessible storefront in downtown Seymour or lease space in an existing accessible downtown business.

To see coverage of the protest, view these links:

To raise public awareness of rights and responsibilities provided by the now 25-year-old ADA, the ADA Education Project is writing an “ADA education” curriculum to be launched as a website that Connecticut social studies teachers and the general public can freely use. All its lesson plans, activities, and resources will be online—therefore requiring no expenses for books and having little impact on school budgets. With public awareness of ADA, towns and cities can become Livable Communities, a prerequisite to enable Aging in Place. Connecticut’s population is increasingly aging. Aging in Place can save America billions.

For more information about DRAG Connecticut or the ADA Education Project, please contact Joseph A. Luciano at (203) 463-8323 or e-mail dragconnecticut@yahoo.com.

Election for Seats on New Haven Board of Education

by Rachel Heerema, NH Votes Coalition

For the first time in New Haven, an election will be held for seats on the New Haven Board of Education, which over-sees the public school system. The Board of Alders created two voting districts, each comprising exactly half the city’s wards. One Board of Ed member will be elected from each district. Because of the staggering of board member terms, in this year’s election one member will be elected for a two-year term and the other for a four-year term. Beginning in 2017, both elected seats will have four-year terms.

New Haven Votes Coalition is sponsoring a survey to raise awareness and gather information on candidate qualifications and school board issues (see inserts). Here’s a link to the online survey: http://bit.ly/1G3aDbH

You can complete the survey and mail it back to: New Haven Votes Coalition, c/o The Grove, 760 Chapel Street, New Haven, CT 06510.

More background here: www.newhavenvotescoalition.org.

 

Jewish Voice for Peace hosts filmmaker Dr. Alice Rothchild

Shelly Altman, Jewish Voice for Peace

Jewish Voice for Peace New Haven (JVPNH) recently hosted a visit by filmmaker Dr. Alice Rothchild with screenings of her film Voices Across the Divide. The film explores the Palestinian narrative of the Nakba, featuring interviews with three generations of North American Palestinians whose families were forced into refugee status during the war of 1948-49.

In a retrospective on her visit, Rothchild states “I discussed the complexities of the Zionist movement, the fact that Jews, Christians and Muslims lived together pretty well until Zionists arrived, that the goal was clearly to create a Jewish-only state and that required getting rid of indigenous Arabs.[…] I urged people to understand that Netanyahu is not an aberration, that if you found a state based on Jewish privilege and dominance and you support militant settlers and the profound racism that has been present since the birth of the Zionist movement, then you get the government we have now. This is clearly highly problematic for liberal American Jews and we need to face these contradictions.”
Questioned by an audience member at the Whitney Center about her recent visit to Gaza, Rothchild spoke of the devastating effects of the collective punishment of Gaza by the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). She referenced on her blog a meeting with Dr. Mona el-Farra of Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA). Rothchild quotes Dr. el-Farra:

“400,000 children are traumatized after the attack due to eyewitness experiences according to the UN and UNICEF. I see that those kids, age five to 16, who are suffering this trauma, were eyewitnesses of the attack, are the future youth, those kids will be the future negotiators. When Israel hits Gaza, it hits the psychological well-being of those kids.”

See her blog at alicerothchild.com/blog-2015 for a remarkable daily recounting of her March journey.
That is the present reality in Gaza. For a conversation about growing up and attending school in the West Bank, come June 17 at 6:30 p.m. to the Spring Glen Congregational Church, 1825 Whitney Ave., Hamden, to hear Shurouq Isam Alatrash and Heba Elias Bannoura, 2015 Nursing and Mid-wifery graduates respectively from Bethlehem University. For more details, see http://www.jvpnh.org/event/discussion-palestinian-nursing-and-midwifery-students.

You can reach JVP New Haven on the web: www.jvpnh.org, by email:  newhaven@jewishvoiceforpeace.org, or facebook: jvpnewhaven, or twitter: @jvpnewhaven.

Court Sessions Continue Against the ‘Westport 2’

Stanley Heller, Exec. Director, Middle East Crisis Committee

On May 12 two young men went into a Westport, CT, synagogue to read a three-paragraph statement opposing the meeting there to raise funds for the “Friends of the Israel Defense Forces.” They were stopped before they could get into the meeting room and someone FALSELY claimed the two were armed. Many police cars came to the synagogue. Police brandished automatic weapons. Schools in the area were sent into lockdown. The two men, Dan Fischer and Gregory Williams, were arrested on a charge that if punished to the maximum could get them one year in prison.

In court on May 22 in Stamford Dan Fischer applied for “Accelerated Rehabilitation.” Gregory Williams opted for a jury trial. The next court session is July 21.

The two had attempted to enter the talk and to read testimony by Nabilah Abu Halima, a Palestinian woman whose son was killed in Gaza during 2009’s Operation Cast Lead and who had to flee her home with the rest of her family during 2014’s Gaza Massacre.

Fischer and Williams were particularly concerned that the event, a women’s luncheon sponsored by Friends of the IDF, claimed that the occupying army is “a world leader in integrating women in the armed forces.” The activists intended their demonstration to call attention to the experiences of women living under the apartheid regime in Palestine.

Palestinian women and families suffer the brunt of the violence of the IDF’s periodic assaults on Gaza. The family of Nabilah Abu Halima, whose testimony Fischer and Williams were attempting to read at the talk, is just one example: “Our son Matar was 17 when he was killed in the 2009 war [Operation Cast Lead]. He was killed together with his cousin Muhammad, who was 12, while they were trying to escape the bombardments. Other members of the family who were with them were injured. One of them, Ghada Abu Halima, died of her wounds three months later….My son Matar was killed right before my eyes.” Ghada Abu Halima died from burns she suffered from a white phosphorus bomb.

A defense fund has been created to help pay for lawyers.  To see how to contribute and for latest developments see: www.TheStruggle.org.

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