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.

Rally on the New Haven Green, Friday, May 1, 4:30 p.m. at Temple and Chapel

5:30 P.M. March Immigration Reform, Safe Jobs with Fair Wages Worldwide, and Peace!
For more information, please contact the Connecticut AFL-CIO at 860-571-6191 or the calendar on www.ctaflcio.org

Endorsed by: CT AFL-CIO, CT Immigrant Rights Alliance, Columbia Action Coalition, GNH Central Labor Council, Junta for Progressive Action, Mexico Solidarity Committee, NH Peace Council, NH Peoples Center, New Haven Rising, SEIU 32 BJ, Unidad Latina en Accion-ULA, UE Northeast Region, UE Locals 243, 222, UNITE/HERE at Yale.

New Haven Community Fights for Civilian Review Board

by Al Riccio and Dom Grzybko, ANSWER CT

On the night of Jan. 29, over 200 people packed a Board of Alders committee meeting with the demand for a powerful All-Civilian Review Board. Community members, organizers and students came to declare that changes were needed in the current CRB. Chief demands included:

  •  Members must not be police officers and must be selected by the community and not by private nomination. The Board must be independent of Internal Affairs.
  • The CRB must be adequately funded, so as to ensure it can function effectively and independently.
  • Perhaps most importantly, the Board must have subpoena power — the ability to compel witnesses, including active officers, to testify before it.

All of these characteristics are absent from the current Civilian Review Board, which can effectively only recommend Internal Affairs investigate the NHPD and which is currently inactive. Most testimony at the meeting included references to the MALIK/Dawson proposal, which is a powerful review board model approved by referendum in 2000, only to be struck down by then-Mayor DeStefano. Each person who testified addressed the need for profound change, having witnessed or experienced unpunished mistreatment or brutality by the New Haven and Yale police. Speakers brought attention to the growing dissent and distrust of the police. As Emma Jones, mother of Malik Jones (who was killed in 1997 by an East Haven police officer) and drafter of the MALIK/Dawson proposal calling for an All-Civilian Review Board, pointed out: “People discovered that the civilian review board did not have the authority to do anything. It could take a complaint and walk it over to internal affairs. If they didn’t like what internal affairs did, they could come back and ask that it be re-opened. It was a paper tiger that had no authority and no teeth.”

The current CRB is unacceptable; the community is well aware of its inadequacy. The New Haven people will not stand idly by in the coming weeks as the Board of Alders considers their demands. The people will accept nothing less than an All-Civilian Review Board with real power.

While only a fundamental change in society will end police brutality, ANSWER CT supports the community call for a powerful All-Civilian Review Board and will continue to struggle in City Hall and in the streets alongside all people who want change. For more information, contact ANSWER CT at (203) 903-4480 or connecticut@answercoaliton.org.

Report on Rick Wolff’s January Talks in New Haven

by Allan Brison, CT Green Party

Over 20 people gathered to hear Rick Wolff in January at the Unitarian Universalist Society. He spoke about his evolution from his education attending three of the nation’s most prestigious schools (Harvard, Stamford and Yale), to being one of the rare Marxist economists in the Economic Department at Yale, and, in turn, to his present incarnation as being in great demand for radio and TV interviews across the nation, and having his advice sought by such luminaries as Bill Moyers, as well as being a driving force behind the Left Forum every year in Manhattan.

Contributions were made to Democracy At Work, Rick’s organization to bring real democracy to the workplace and everywhere else in American society (donations can also be made on his website http://www.democracyatwork.info/).

Then Rick spoke to the Yale Political Union for the debate on the question: Should US Banks be Nationalized? But his position is not for either Nationalization or Privatization, but rather what he calls Socialization – a more nuanced form of collective ownership of goods and services by those most affected by those goods or services. Though he believes that Socialization is the way to go, he did point out that there have been some very successful examples of public owner-ship. These include the Bank of North Dakota and the much larger publicly owned Bank of Germany.

Rick gave other examples where public ventures have outperformed their privately owned counterparts, including the Wallingford, CT Electric District, the publicly owned utilities in Los Angeles and Sacramento, and the Green Bay Packers football team in the NFL.

One of the largest and most striking examples of Socialization in the ownership of goods and services is the Mondragon Corporation in Spain. This company started in 1956 and today is the largest corporation in the Basque Region. It employs 74,000 people in 257 companies and organizations in four areas of activity: Finance, Industry, Retail, and Knowledge.

For more on the Mondragon Corporation, see Rick’s website or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mondragon_Corporation.

At the end of the YPU debate, the students voted in favor of nationalization of banks by a narrow margin. The debate was captured on videotape for public showings.

Please contact me for more information. Allan Brison, (203) 782-6808

1 10 11 12 13