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

Gathering Mourns Leelah Alcorn’s Suicide

by Maya Leonardo, Justice for Jane

New Haven activists joined thousands of others across the country to mourn Leelah Alcorn on January 10. In the wake of the transgender 17-year-old’s suicide, activists have mobilized across the country to stand for trans rights and an end to so-called ‘conversion therapy.’ While trans suicides are not uncommon, the visibility of Leelah’s was widespread, including a suicide note widely reposted.
New Haven has become a hotbed of trans activism, with the Justice for Jane campaign bringing together activists from all over Southern Connecticut. Jane is a 17-year-old trans girl being held in DCF custody at a men’s facility in Middletown. Just like Leelah was, she is being denied the right to express her gender.

Attendees at the vigil and rally made promises to Leelah to help fix society. One of the most poignant came from IV, a Justice for Jane organizer.

“I want to make a promise that I will keep fighting for our community, no matter how hard the struggle gets. Jane is 17 just like you, Leelah. I promise to fight to make sure she lives the life you deserved, and to fight for all young people who are being abused like you and Jane. We will keep the struggle alive for you, and we will tear down the system that took your life, keeps our community down and discourages us from living.”

Kathy Kelly in Jail for Protest against Drones

PeaceAction.org

On Friday, January 23, Kathy Kelly, co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, a campaign to end U.S. military and economic warfare, began her three-month jail sentence in federal prison for a protest against drones at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri. The arrest followed an attempt by herself and Georgia Walker to deliver a loaf of bread and a letter to the commander of Whiteman Air Force base, asking him to stop his troops from piloting lethal drone flights over Afghanistan from within the base.

From 1996-2003, Voices activists formed 70 delegations that openly defied economic sanctions by bringing medicines to children and families in Iraq. Kathy and her companions lived in Baghdad throughout the 2003 “Shock and Awe” bombing. They have also lived alongside people during warfare in Gaza, Lebanon, Bosnia and Nicaragua.

This will be her fourth time in a federal prison. Kelly has been involved in numerous nonviolent campaigns to end war, some of which have involved lengthy imprisonment.

If you would like to reach out to Kathy in the next 3 months I’m sure she would welcome the contact. If you feel inclined to send something, she loves novels, especially novels written by people from other countries.

Kathy Kelly 04971-045
FMC LEXINGTON, SATELLITE CAMP, P.O. BOX 14525
LEXINGTON, KY  40512

Movement Against Police Brutality Builds in New Haven

Hundreds rally at the Amistad statue in New Haven as Emma Jones tells us, "you are perfectly capable of policing yourselves." (contributed photo)

Hundreds rally at the Amistad statue in New Haven as Emma Jones tells us, “you are perfectly capable of policing yourselves.” (contributed photo)

by Chis Garaffa, ANSWER CT (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism)

New Haven students and community members are building a renewed movement against police brutality and terror. In response to the non-indictments of the officers who killed Darren Wilson in Ferguson, MO and Eric Garner in Staten Island, NY, hundreds of people have demonstrated in the city to loudly proclaim that they have had enough of police terror and an injustice system that lets killer cops walk free.

On Dec. 5, despite rain, 400 took over the streets of downtown. On Chapel Street a 7-minute moment of silence was held for Eric Garner, the amount of time he was left handcuffed and dead on the sidewalk. The march also shut down the intersection of Church and Chapel for nearly 30 minutes, demonstrating that there cannot be business as usual while police get away with these killings.

Yale students also held a die-in on Dec. 5, where hundreds lay down on the sidewalk.

The movement against police brutality requires being on the street and organizing in our communities. Eighty people attended a community meeting on Dec. 14 to strategize how to build the fight-back movement. At the meeting, called by ANSWER, People Against Police Brutality, MALIK, Black Student Alliance at Yale (BSAY) and more, tactics on how to fight the NHPD’s “surge” were discussed. The surge is New Haven’s version of “stop and frisk,” targeting anyone deemed undesirable by the police for random searches and questioning. The meeting also addressed legislative and community efforts needed to win justice.

A new movement is being formed across the country and New Haven will be an important center of organizing and building solidarity against police brutality!

New Haven’s Mark Colville Sentenced for Protesting at Drone Base Near Syracuse, NY | Democracy Now!

coville-goodmanA longtime peace activist was sentenced today to one year conditional discharge for demonstrating outside the gates of New York’s Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, which is used to remotely pilot U.S. drone attacks. Mark Colville faced up to two years in jail stemming from his arrest last December. More than 100 people have been arrested over the past five years as part of nonviolent campaign organized by the Upstate Drone Coalition. Hours before he learns his fate, Colville joins us to discuss his activism and why he opposes the U.S. drone war.

via Peace Activist Sentenced for Protesting at Drone Base Near Syracuse, NY | Democracy Now!.

Dec. 3 Sentencing of Mark Colville for Protesting Drone Warfare

by Friends of the Amistad Catholic Worker

On Sept. 18, 2014, Mark Colville, of Amistad Catholic Worker in New Haven, was convicted on five criminal charges for walking peacefully to the front gate of the 174th Attack Wing at Hancock Airfield in Syracuse, N.Y., along with Yale Divinity School students Creighton Chandler and Greg Williams, to deliver a People’s Order of Protection for the Children of Afghanistan.

Mark and his family and community are preparing for his sentencing on Dec. 3 in Syracuse, in a court that has gone to extreme lengths to justify the U.S. government’s extrajudicial killing and crimes against humanity perpetrated through weaponized drone strikes.

Before the trial, Judge Robert Jokl threatened to give Mark the maximum penalty allowable, which could amount to more than two years in prison.

Note: As you who have supported us in the past know, this situation has placed a stress on the life of the Amistad Catholic Worker, and with Mark away it will continue to increase. We need people to think of ways to help us, both financially and by lending a hand to our work of hospitality. Please put some prayerful consideration into this, and join us if you can! For more information, call Frances Goekler-Morneau: (203) 676-2066; (203) 562-6165.

This article from Friends of the Amistad Catholic Worker first appeared in PAR-NewHaven.org.

Rising Tide Member Found Not Guilty for May 27 Vermont Gas Protest

by Sara Sullivan, Rising Tide Vermont, Nov. 20

The trial of Henry Harris, charged with trespassing at Vermont Gas Systems’ (VGS) headquarters in South Burlington on May 27, ended today with a not guilty verdict. Harris and other members of Rising Tide Vermont blockaded the main entrance of VGS and dropped a massive banner from the roof, demanding the company immediately cancel its plans to build the fracked gas pipeline.

Harris, a volunteer organizer with Rising Tide Vermont, said, “Today, the court ruled in my favor because the jury recognized Vermont Gas and the state of Vermont had no basis in their charges against me. The state’s prosecutor, with pressure from VGS and the Shumlin administration, was attempting to stifle future protests against the fracked gas pipeline and Shumlin’s hypocritical climate and energy policies.”

Since the May 27 protest, hundreds of Vermonters have taken part in rallies, blockades, and an occupation of the Governor’s office to demand an end to the pipeline project. The 64 activists who were arrested at the occupation on Oct. 27 are also facing charges of trespass. “We asked the Governor to revoke his support of the fracked gas pipeline,” said Stuart Blood, 63, an organizer with Keystone XL Resistance from Thetford Center, “and to recognize the need to ban all new fossil fuel infrastructure, because new fossil fuels move us in the wrong direction.”

Read the article at: http://vtdigger.org/2014/11/20/rising-tide-member-found-guilty-may-27-vermont-gas-protest.

Israeli Journalist in New Haven, Wed., Oct. 29

by Stanley Heller, MECC

Ofra Yeshua-LythOfra Yeshua-Lyth is a veteran journalist and author. She was a correspondent for Israel’s second largest news-paper Maariv in Germany and in the US. She’s a member of the Committee for One Secular Democratic State in Palestine-Israel. Her book The Case for a Secular New Jeruslaem is subtitled: “A Memoir.” Her grandmothers came to Palestine in the early days of Zionist settlement and her book is rich in personal stories.

An article about her on Mondoweiss is available at mondoweiss.net/2014/10/ofra-yeshua-israeli
Come meet her in New Haven Wednesday, October 29, at 7 p.m. in the NH Public Library, 133 Elm St.

Sponsored by the Middle East Crisis Committee

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