Seymour Police, Town of Seymour Policies Discriminate against Disabled

by Joseph A. Luciano  Disability Rights Action Group of CT

I have asked NBC-TV Troubleshooters to investigate the present-day status of ADA access and mobility in downtown Seymour. Investigation can reveal the plight of persons with disabilities (PWDs) living here.

This is happening 27 years after the Americans with Disabil-ities Act (ADA) was enacted (July 26, 1990). That’s 10,100 days ago. This was happening even before Seymour approved 38 new senior/disabled housing units downtown. On Columbus Street alone, the senior/disabled population has increased from 12 to 38—not counting the disabled living in my downtown apartment complex (Fallview Apts). Often, only able-bodied people can get around in downtown Seymour. I and other PWDs cannot—because police do not enforce ordinances or regulations that enable accessibility. I have filed complaints on these issues against Seymour and its police department with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights & Opportunities (1730312, 1830021). Inex-plicably, CHRO ruled that town and police policy do not discriminate against PWDs—even though only able-bodied persons can get around.

PWDs are routinely denied their rights to access and mobility at Seymour’s new $6.4 million park (Paul Pawlak Sr. Fishway & Park at Tingue Dam). Police do not ticket or tow away vehicles obstructing or blocking access to the “accessible walkway” leading to the scenic lookout.

PWDs are routinely denied their rights to access Seymour’s downtown businesses when property owners flout Seymour Ordinance 14-6, which mandates timely removal of snow from sidewalks. Seymour PD itself routinely flouts Ordinance 1-9, which mandates that flouters “shall” be fined up to $100/day for each day of the offense. Seymour PD has admitted never having fined snow ordinance flouters. Sidewalks covered with snow that should have been removed by town law prevent PWDs from access to groceries, restaurants, pharmacy, banking, worship, theater, shopping, and other reasonable purposes. For more information: DRAGconnecticut@yahoo.com, (203) 463-8323

Conference on Drone Warfare to be Held In Hartford March 14

by Rev. Rich Killmer, Interfaith Network on Drone Warfare

The Connecticut Interfaith Conference on Drone Warfare takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, March 14 at Hartford Seminary, 77 Sherman St., Hartford, CT. The presenters include: Andrea Prasow, Associate Director of the Washington Office of Human Rights Watch; Dr. Maryann Cusimano Love, Politics Department, Catholic University, Washington, DC; Rev. Chris Antal, Unitarian Universalist Minister, who resigned as an army chaplain because of the U.S. lethal drone policy; Lt. Colonel Shareda Hosein (U.S. Army Reserves Retired), Muslim Chaplain. Two short films produced by the Interfaith Network on Drone Warfare for congregations will also be screened.

Registration is free, but a free-will offering will be taken. Lunch will be provided. Please register at www.bit.ly/DroneCTConference. For more information, visit www.interfaithdronenetwork.org or call (609) 924-5022 or (207) 450-7242. The conference is co-sponsored by Hartford Seminary and the Interfaith Network on Drone Warfare.

Resist Foundation Wants to Fund Justice and Liberation!

Resist is a foundation that supports people’s movements for justice and liberation. We redistribute resources back to frontline communities at the forefront of change while amplifying their stories of building a better world.

The movement for justice and liberation is in a constant state of flux. Here at Resist we’re constantly finding ways to sit in that change, learn from it, and iterate so we can be a more responsive and accountable organization to the front-lines. As we close out our 50th anniversary we continue to reflect on what our world, our movement and our organization will look like in the next half-century. We’ve learned a lot from these reflections. As we continue to reimagine our grants program in conversation with a growing number of our grantees and the wider Resist community we want to in-troduce two new and exciting changes in our program.

New Rapid Response Grant: In the last two years we’ve seen a sharp spike in the need for emergency and technical assistance grants from groups all over the country. For this reason we’ve merged our two grants into a new rapid response grant.

Resist now offers a $1,000 Rapid Response grant to better meet the needs of frontline groups and organizations. This grant is decided on by Resist staff and generally has a one week turn around. This grant is for groups looking to:

Imagine and Build: for groups seeking financial support with training, consultation, healing, cultural work, conflict resolution, and/or restructuring. Examples include (but are not limited to): developing organizing skills, exploration of new strategies, community-led arts and culture work, board and staff development, fundraising support and training, transformative and strategic planning.

Resist and Respond: for groups seeking to respond to unforeseen and timely political opportunities with organizing and/or cultural interventions. Examples include organizing direct action, creative resistance, and travel to protests in response to a call to action.

Please go to www.resist.org for information on how to apply for a grant. Resist, 259 Elm Street Suite 201, Somerville, MA 02144 (617) 623-5110, info@resist.org.

Reconstructing the Dream: March and Event Mark African American History Month 4 p.m. Feb. 25

by Joelle Fishman, CT People’s World

The 44th People’s World African American History Month Celebrations, “Reconstructing the Dream” will be keynoted by Rev. Scott Marks, director of New Haven Rising and co-founder of Connecticut Center for a New Economy. He will address the way forward for equality and justice in 2018, 50 years since Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated, and 150 years since W.E.B. DuBois was born. A national leader of Unite Here, Marks has organized people from all races, nationalities and genders to fight for their homes, jobs and communities. He is traveling the country to train new African American union leaders and is organizing the I AM 2018 effort to carry forward Dr. King’s legacy.

The event will be held on Sunday, Feb. 25 at 4 p.m. at Troup School, 259 Edgewood Ave, New Haven, CT 06511. Prior to the event, a march has been organized from the New Haven Peoples Center through the Dwight neighborhood to Troup School. The march, themed “Jobs for Youth, Jobs for All,” will remember neighborhood youth who have been killed, and is sponsored by Ice the Beef, New Elm City Dream/YCL and New Haven Rising.

The event will be opened with drumming by Brian Jarawa Gray. Prizes will be awarded in the Arts and Writing Competition Grades 8 through 12. Students were asked: “What lessons can we learn from Dr. King’s courageous life? What kind of collective action is needed in 2018 to carry his legacy forward? A video “Remembering Dalzenia Henry, Grace Cummings, Emma Fair” will honor the memory of three African American Communist women leaders in Connecticut. Ice the Beef will perform excerpts from King and DuBois.

A donation of $5 or what you can afford is requested. No one will be turned away

Thousands March Against Trump and Demand Equality

by LouAnn Villani, JVPNH and MECC

By a very rough count 10,000 women and male allies and their daughters marched and rallied in Hartford’s Capitol at the “Women’s March CT, Rise and Resist 2018.” I stood with members of Jewish Voice for Peace New Haven, the Middle East Crisis Committee and the Tree of Life Educational Foundation holding banners about imprisoned Palestinian women and watched people pass by us for 50 minutes.

There were lots of signs and banners with a funny and vulgar mix that mocked Donald Trump. There was a drawing of a uterus with the words “This Machine Kills Fascists.” Another very colorful sign said, “Elect a Clown, You Get a Circus.” A good number worked off his notorious “sh**hole” remark. One had a picture of Trump being flushed down a toilet.

A lot of signs were pro-immigrants and #BlackLivesMatter, including one large banner. Other signs were about elections, “Grab Them by the Midterms” and “I’m a Nasty Woman and I Vote.” Throughout the march, there were supporters of Planned Parenthood and women’s right to choose.

One sign I liked said “I March Because Silence Is Not an Option. I Will Not Be Complicit.” Several had the words ‘I Stand With Her” next to a photo of the Statue of Liberty. Many had the words “I Will Not Go Quietly Back to 1950s #Resist.”

For chants, a Latino contingent was loudest and most enthusiastic. And like last year people yelled, “Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Donald Trump Has Got to Go,” “We Need a Leader, Not a Creepy Tweeter,” “Dump Trump” and “This is What Democracy Looks Like.”

Our banners had drawings and a photo of Ahed Tamimi, the 16-year-old Palestinian girl whom the Israelis arrested a month ago and are threatening to put in jail for years for slapping a heavily-armed Israeli soldier. Perhaps 100 people commented in support and took photos of us. We also gave out 1,000 half-page flyers which were snapped up in less than 30 minutes.

The march was fantastic, and we sent word of what we did to the Tamimi family in Palestine.

Black History Month Events at the Wilson Library

by Marian Huggins, New Haven Free Public Library

This year’s Black History Month theme for the library fea-tures two prominent writers: James Baldwin and Langston Hughes. Along with partners from Project Longevity, we will show the film I Am Not Your Negro, a work adapted from an unfinished James Baldwin manuscript. The screening will be held at the Wilson Branch, 303 Washington Ave., New Haven, on Saturday, Feb. 3 at 2 p.m.

James Baldwin, described as an “American Novelist and Social Critic,” unearths the hard truths about racism in America while describing his responses to the deaths of Martin Luther King Jr., Medgar Evers and Malcolm X.

Langston Hughes, whose birthday by the way is Feb. 1, was a prolific poet and social activist as well. His writing could be biting, but was usually cloaked either in humor (as in the Jesse B. Semple Stories) or softened by the hopefulness of a future when all would be accepted, like in the poem “I, Too”:

I, too, sing America.
I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.
Tomorrow,
I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”
Then.
Besides,
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—

The Urban Life Experience Book Discussion Series will feature a biography of Langston Hughes for our February meeting, Feb. 24 at noon. New readers are welcome and readers can choose whatever biography (or autobiography) written for teens and adults they’d like to read for the discussion. The Langston Hughes biography is in conjunction with our Black History Month celebration and it fits in with the cultural and social justice theme of the discussion group. The book discussion will be followed by the film Hughes’ Dream Harlem at 1:30 p.m.  Wilson Branch, New Haven Free Public Library, 303 Washington Ave., (203) 946-2228.

Teach-In Feb 24: Explore the Toughest Questions Facing the Climate Movement

by 350CT and Sierra Club

On Saturday, February 24, noon to 6 p.m. at the Ernest O. St. Jacques Auditorium, Elmwood Community Center, 1106 New Britain Ave., West Hartford (entrance via South Quaker Lane and then to Burgoyne Street) come to a Teach-In: For a Livable World! Climate Justice Now! Hear experts and activists exploring some of the toughest questions facing the climate movement. Speakers include:
Jacqueline Patterson, Director of the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program. Coordinator & co-founder of Women of Color United since 2007. She is also a researcher and program manager, working on women‘s rights, violence against women, HIV&AIDS, racial and economic justice.
Anne L. Hendrixson, Director of Population and Development Programs at Hampshire College. She has examined the gendered and racialized ways that environmental thinkers have framed population in relation to resource scarcity, food insecurity, conflict and violence, environmental degradation and climate change.

Sean Sweeney, Director of the International Program on Labor, Climate & Environment at the Murphy Institute, City University of New York and coordinator of Trade Unions for Energy Democracy, a global network of 42 unions from 16 countries.

Martha Klein, Chapter Chair of the Sierra Club of Connecticut, and a leader in the fight to stop the use and transport by pipeline of climate-wrecking fracked gas in our state.

Alexis Rodriquez, Fairfield representative of the Connecticut Puerto Rican Agenda and an advocate of decolonization. He has been involved with hurricane relief efforts and the campaign against coal ash dumping in Penuelas.

Cynthia Jennings, environmental and civil rights attorney and a councilwoman in Hartford. She has brought the issue of environmental justice in Hartford to national attention.

Workshops include: Become a Citizen Lobbyist for the Spring 2018 Legislative Session; What Would an Independent Mass Action Strategy Look Like?; The Fight for a Green, De-Colonized Puerto Rico; Fight for Green Affordable Mass Transit; Nuclear Power is NOT Renewable!; Get Your Town to Commit to 100% Renewable This Year!

For more information: 350CT at (203) 350-3508 or email organizers@350ct.org.

Sierra Club of CT 860-542-5225 or connecticut.chapter@sierraclub.org.

By Our Presence, We Grieve Those Who Have Been Killed

By Allie Perry, Reclaiming the Prophetic Voice

If you happened to walk by New Haven’s 1905 Civil War memorial at the Broadway triangle New Year’s Day 2018 at 6 p.m., you might have wondered why, in freezing cold temperatures, a group of eleven was gathered around a cairn of field stones. They were there giving witness and calling attention to the on-going violence of the U.S. wars against Iraq and Afghanistan, by adding yet another stone to the cairn. Each stone is a memorial, inscribed with the number of U.S. service people who died in the previous month in Iraq and Afghanistan and with the approximate number of Iraqi and Afghan civilians killed. Each month the cairn gets higher and heavier, as the cumulative death tolls go up.

This monthly observance began in December 2007. Stephen Kobasa proposed the memorial and secured the New Haven Board of Park Commissioners’ permission to construct it. Reclaiming the Prophetic Voice provided the leadership, inviting local faith communities to lead the monthly rituals. Over the decade since, members of many New Haven area congregations have participated, including: St. Thomas More, First Presbyterian, Amistad Catholic Worker, Center Church, the University Church, Unitarian Society of New Haven, the Zen Center, Shalom UCC, Church of the Redeemer, Congregation Mishkan Israel, United Church on the Green, First Unitarian Universalist Society of New Haven, St. Paul and St. James, Ascension Catholic Church in Hamden, St. Thomas Episcopal.

At that first gathering, stones were placed, retroactively, documenting every month since the March 2003 start of the U.S. war against Iraq. Initially the inscribed numbers included deaths only in Iraq. As the hostilities in Afghanistan escalated, we started inscribing the stones with data for Afghanistan as well.

The permission granted in 2007 was for a temporary installation, to be dismantled when the wars end. Ten years later the violence continues, the wars persist, and, on every first Monday of the month, a group still gathers. By our presence, we grieve those who have been killed, we denounce the violence, and we renew our commitment to work fervently for the end of war and for justice and peace. Join us.

Commemorate the 200th Anniversary of Frederick Douglass’ Birth

Power Concedes Nothing Without a Demand. It Never Did, and It Never Will.

Quinnipiac University will mark the 200th anniversary of Frederick Douglass’ birth with a series of events to honor his life and his many achievements. One of the high points will be a yearlong exhibition curated by Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute that focuses on the time Douglass spent in Ireland and his enduring relationship with that country.

Frederick Douglass was born a slave in Maryland. At the age of 20, he escaped to the north, where he quickly established himself as a talented speaker and writer.

In 1845, Douglass wrote his life story: “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave. Written by Himself.” To avoid being captured and returned to slavery, he traveled to Europe. He spent the first four months of his exile in Ireland, returning there three more times in 1846. Douglass described his time in Ireland as “transformative” and as “the happiest days of my life.” In 1847, he returned to America, his freedom having been “purchased” by female abolitionists.

Exhibit: Frederick Douglass Remembered.

Dates: Feb. 2, 2018, to Jan. 28, 2019
Hours: Monday through Saturday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.;
Sunday: Noon to 5 p.m.
Main Exhibition: The Lender Special Collection Room, Arnold Bernhard Library, Mount Carmel Campus, Quinnipiac University, 275 Mount Carmel Avenue, Hamden, CT 06518

Friday, Feb. 2. Frederick Douglass in Ireland: “The Black O’Connell” (Frederick Douglass in Éirinn: An Conallach Gorm) exhibition opens to the public.

Tuesday, Feb. 6, 7-10 p.m. From Abolition to #BLM: A Conversation with Danny Glover at the Burt Kahn Court, Mount Carmel Campus. Driven by activists like Harriet Beecher Stowe, Frederick Douglass, and Harriet Tubman, early abolitionist efforts became the foundation for contemporary debates over the meaning of freedom. The Black Lives Matter movement, named for the hashtag started on Twitter, is steeped in the American tradition of using free speech and social actions to further the fight for justice and equality. In a fireside-chat style program with Dr. Khalilah Brown-Dean, Glover will explore the similarities of the #BlackLivesMatter movement and its early abolitionist roots (especially Frederick Douglass) to build connections, increase dialogue and end racism.

Wednesday, Feb. 14. Happy Birthday, Frederick! Events throughout the day include special cupcakes and a chance to meet Nathan Richardson (Douglass enactor).

Tuesday, Feb. 20. “Frederick Douglass at 200.”
Memorial service to mark Frederick’s death on February 20, 1895. The service will include a selection of readings in English and Irish, accompanied by traditional Irish music and 19th-century American hymns. Light refreshments will be provided afterward. This event will take place at the Center for Religion on the Mount Carmel Campus.Thursday, February 22. Kenneth Morris and Nettie Douglass, descendants of Frederick Douglass, discuss how they are preserving his legacy. Also, a statue of Frederick Douglass at age 27 (when he visited Ireland) will be on display at the Quinnipiac University School of Law on the North Haven Campus, 370 Bassett Road, North Haven. For more information, please contact: Ann Marie Godbout, Assistant to Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute, (203) 582-6576, ighi@qu.edu, http://www.qu.edu/on-campus/institutes-centers/irelands-great-hunger-institute/frederick-douglass-remembered.html.

PAR Featured on WPKN Radio. Listen.

On Jan. 8, Scott Harris, host of Counterpoint on WPKN Radio (89.5 FM), interviewed Paula Panzarella, one of PAR’s editors and Planning Committee members.

The Planning Committee felt this interview would be a great way to introduce PAR to the many progressive organiza-tions active in the peace movement, the struggle for immi-grant rights, work with Black Lives Matter, promotion of environmental projects, the struggle for civil rights, criminal justice issues, the push for healthcare for all, etc. Many thanks to Scott Harris and WPKN for agreeing to give PAR this opportunity to reach a new audience.

We hope that groups which were not familiar with PAR will send us articles and their event listings so PAR readers can learn about the work they are doing and get involved. PAR readers can listen to the interview on the following link: http://counterpointradio.org/2018/mp3/180108d-ctpt-panzarella.mp3.

Major Conference on Closing U.S. Foreign Military Bases

Henry Lowendorf, U.S. Peace Council

A broad coalition of U.S. peace organizations has created a major conference in Baltimore, Jan. 12 to 14 — to launch an international campaign to close U.S. foreign military bases.

Major speakers at the Conference on U.S. Foreign Military Bases include Ajamu Baraka, 2016 Green Party vice presidential candidate; Col. Ann Wright, former diplomat, leader of CodePink and Veterans for Peace; David Vine, Associate Professor, American University, author of Base Nation. For a complete list of speakers, visit this link.

This coalition came together to unify the U.S. peace move-ment around a common goal. There is still time to register for this important initiative: http://noforeignbases.org.

Coalition Against U.S. Foreign Military Bases, Unity Statement (partial)

While we may have our differences on other issues, we all agree that U.S. foreign military bases are the principal in-struments of imperial global domination and environmental damage through wars of aggression and occupation, and that the closure of U.S. foreign military bases is one of the first necessary steps toward a just, peaceful and sustainable world. Our belief in the urgency of this necessary step is based on the following facts:

  1. While we are opposed to all foreign military bases, we do recognize that the United States maintains the highest number of military bases outside its territory, estimated at almost 1000 (95% of all foreign military bases in the world). Presently, there are U.S. military bases in every Persian Gulf country except Iran.
  2. In addition, the United States has 19 naval air carriers (and 15 more planned), each as part of a Carrier Strike Group, composed of roughly 7,500 personnel, and a carrier air wing of 65 to 70 aircraft — each of which can be considered a floating military base.
  3. These bases are centers of aggressive military actions, threats of political and economic expansion, sabotage and espionage, and crimes against local populations. In addition, these military bases are the largest users of fossil fuel in the world, heavily contributing to environmental degradation.
  4. The annual cost of these bases to the American taxpayers is approximately $156 billion. The support of U.S. foreign military bases drains funds that can be used to fund human needs and enable our cities and states to provide necessary services for the people.

This has made the U.S. a more militarized society and has led to increased tensions between the U.S. and the rest of the world. Stationed throughout the world, almost 1000 in number, U.S. foreign military bases are symbols of the ability of the United States to intrude in the lives of sovereign nations and peoples.

Student Needs First—School Board Watch Initiative

CT Parents Union (CTPU) has launched a School Board Watch Initiative to ensure individuals we elected or were appointed to Connecticut local and state boards of education are putting the needs of students first over education partisan politics. Parent and community volunteers will evaluate BOE meetings in five governance areas:

  1. Focus and Mission: The Board is “focused” on achieving fiscal and personnel responsible goals that are in the best interest of ALL students regardless of race, disability or income level.
  2. Transparency: Board processes are accessible to the public and public treated with respect and dignity;
  3. Conduct: Conflicts/disagreements are managed respectfully – ALL school boards must lead by example;
  4. Role Clarity: The Board provides effective leadership and oversight through student-centered planning and strategy processes; and
  5. Competency: Ensure board members are informed and culturally responsive.

Bottom line: Every Board of Education decision MUST BE in the best interest of the student with fiscal and personnel accountability paramount!

NHPS Parents Group–Fátima Rojas, (203) 747-4309; Sarah Miller, (203) 675-9516, newhavenpublicschoolparents@gmail.com.

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