Gandhi Peace Award to Jackson Browne

by Stanley Heller, Promoting Enduring Peace Administrator

Promoting Enduring Peace is giving its Gandhi Peace Award this year to singer-songwriter Jackson Browne. He will receive the award on Friday, Sept. 14, at the John Lyman Center for the Performing Arts at Southern Connecticut State University, 501 Crescent St., New Haven. The event will begin at 7:30 p.m.

Starting the program will be two speakers: Frida Berrigan, who has worked for years warning of the dangers of nuclear weapons, and Chris George, Executive Director of IRIS — Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services. Singers Ben Grosscup and Luci Murphy will provide entertainment. Tickets can be reserved online for a donation. The Eventbrite link is https://www.eventbrite.com/e/gandhi-peace-award-2018-tickets-48315261247.

Jackson Browne is the first artist ever to receive the Gandhi Peace Award. The award recognizes Browne’s extraordinary contributions of time and talent to the inseparable causes of world peace, environmental harmony, and social justice. The award comes with a cash prize and a medallion forged from “peace bronze” composed of metals salvaged from the control systems of U.S. nuclear missiles. Consistent with tradition, Browne has been invited “to present a message of challenge and hope” to those present. A reception will follow.

The Gandhi Peace Award, named after Indian anti-imperialist and nonviolence advocate Mohandas Gandhi, derives its international renown from those who have accepted it over the years. Among the 54 awardees are Martin Luther King, Jr., Benjamin Spock, Dorothy Day, Daniel Ellsberg, César Chávez, Amy Goodman, Bill McKibben, Medea Benjamin, Tom Goldtooth, Omar Barghouti and Ralph Nader.

Browne has organized or participated in thousands of benefit performances to support the environment, social justice, and human rights as well as causes such as music and arts education in public schools and has worked with two former Gandhi Peace Award recipients, Amnesty International (1978) and the Children’s Defense Fund (1990). Browne has composed and performed songs widely regarded as among the most literate and moving songs in popular music, defining a genre of songwriting charged with honesty, emotion, and personal politics. In 2004 he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

 

CT Green Party Supports National Prisoner Strike, Green Candidates Demand Reforms to CT Criminal Justice

Owen Charles, Chair, Shoreline Green Party

From Aug. 21 to Sept. 9, 2018, prisoners around the United States will be participating in strike actions, calling for an end to inhumane conditions of confinement, including overcrowding, lack of rehabilitation services, labor at a fraction of the minimum wage, and the absence of any meaningful process by which prisoners may voice grievances.

The Connecticut Green Party and its candidates for public office express their solidarity and support for the prisoners’ strike and observe that here, in the “land of the free,” the U.S. has the largest prison population and the highest percentage of the population in prison of any country in the world. In this election season, with so much discussion about the role of voting in effecting change, there has been little discussion about those to whom the right to vote is denied. That includes millions of African American voters whose votes are suppressed through both legal and illegal means, as well as transgender voters who are prevented by antiquated ID laws from being able to vote.

Disenfranchisement is also a fact for 6 million citizens in the US who are presently or were incarcerated. When government deprives human beings of their right to peaceably and lawfully oppose unfair treatment, it forces those human beings to take up other means of protest. The national prisoner strike is the cry of resistance of a population that the government tries to keep silent.

The Green Party of Connecticut and its candidates for public office call on the State of Connecticut to implement the following measures that would help to address the over-incarceration that especially affects people of color and poor people in our state, and the dehumanizing conditions that exist in our prisons:

Abolish money fines and cash bail. Fines are a regressive tax on poor people, and cash bail is nothing less than the criminalization of poverty. Whether or how a person is treated when they are arrested should not depend on the size of their bank account!

  • Assign an ombudsperson to oversee the health care system in Connecticut’s prisons;
  • Provide genuine mental health treatment, not just pill-pushing.
  • Ensure educational programs are available in prisons as part of rehabilitative services;
  • Abolish slave labor. Guarantee the Connecticut minimum wage for all prison labor; and
  • Restore the vote. Enfranchise all prisoners and formerly incarcerated people.

UNPACKING RACE — A Workshop Sept. 14-16

by Citywide Youth Coalition

Are you challenged by how to deal with race issues in your practice, institution or in the classroom? Are you concerned about the impact of racism in your city and state?

The Undoing Racism/Community Organizing workshop is an intensive three-day workshop designed to educate, challenge and empower people to undo the racist structures that hinder effective social change. The training is based on the premise that racism has been systematically constructed and that it can be undone when people understand where it comes from, how it functions, why it is perpetuated, and what we can do to dismantle it.

The workshop is offered by the Peoples Institute for Survival and Beyond, a national, multi-racial, anti-racist collective of veteran organizers and educators dedicated to building an effective movement for social change. Since its founding in 1980, the Peoples Institute has trained over 200,000 people in hundreds of communities throughout the United States and internationally. It is recognized as one of the most effective anti-racist training and organizing institutions in the nation.

The workshop addresses the following areas:

  1. Analyzing Power: Effective organizing requires accurate analysis of the systems that keep racism in place. The training examines why people are poor, how institutions and organizations perpetuate the imbalance of power, and who benefits from the maintenance of the status quo.
  2. Recognizing The Internalized Manifestations Of Racial Oppression: The training explores how internalized racial oppression manifests itself both as Internalized Racial Inferiority and Internalized Racial Superiority.
  3. Defining Racism: In order to undo racism, organizers and educators must understand what racism is, and how and why it was constructed. The training explores how the idea of race was created to implement systems that benefit some people and oppress and disadvantage others.
  4. Understanding the Manifestations of Racism: Racism operates in more than just individual and institutional settings. The training examines the dynamics of cultural racism, linguistic racism, and militarism as applied racism.
  5. Learning From History: Racism has distorted, suppressed and denied the histories of people of color and white people as well. The training demonstrates that a full knowledge of history is a necessary organizing tool as well as a source of personal and collective empowerment.
  6. Sharing culture: The training demonstrates that even as racism divides people, sharing culture unites us. Cultural sharing is a critical organizing tool and is central to the training.
  7. Organizing to Undo Racism: The training explores principles of effective organizing, strategic techniques of community empowerment, the importance of community accountability and the internal dynamics of leadership development.

Dinner will be provided on Friday, Sept. 14. Breakfast and lunch will be provided on Sept. 15 and 16.
Costs: $350 (non CWYC members) Partial scholarships may be available; $100 (CWYC members). Info: justmoves.nationbuilder.com/sept_2018_application.

Note: There are 30 open seats available for this workshop. Please contact Addys Castillo, addys@cwyc.org or (203) 464-7838 for further information.

Grammar School Students Who Already Challenge and Change The World

by Frank Panzarella, community activist

The Green Wolves, fourth-grade students at Elm City College Preparatory Elementary School, came up with that name for their own wonderful and imaginative adventure in becoming young activists.

Their teacher, Kurt Zimmermann of their Expeditions class, saw the PAR newsletter on-line and invited us to do a training for young people on things to think about when becoming an activist.

While some were still shy, others were bursting with ideas and questions. They surprised us right off by quoting suggestions from our own notes before we even began.

These kids were very interested in environmental issues and showed us their current great campaign. They raised money to replace all the teachers’ disposable coffee cups with lovely ceramic mugs that had the teachers’ names printed on them, so the teachers would reduce their paper waste.

We were thrilled to meet this group of engaging and endearing students and thank Mr. Zimmermann for the opportunity. We thought PAR readers would be interested in the notes we left the students with.

An Activist Guide List – Questions to Ask Yourself

  • “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead
  • “Doing something is better than doing nothing.”
  • “My way is not the only way.”

Passion

  • What are the issues you feel strongly about? What would you like to accomplish or change? What do you need to study and understand?
  • Are there other people you know concerned about these issues? Who can you talk with?

Organize

  • How can you educate people about why your issue is important?
  • What are your short term and long term goals? What would you like to see happen in relation to your cause?
  • Who is it you would like to reach on your cause?
  • Are there people or groups who might be allies in reaching your goals?

Action Plans

  • What kinds of actions are appropriate for your cause?

Educational events

  • Write letters, articles, and petitions.
  • Use social media.

Rallies and demonstrations

  • Picket lines
  • Speak at hearings or local government meetings.

Create a plan to advance your cause and build support

  • Call a meeting to plan your actions if necessary.
  • Figure out a group process.
  • Be aware of your members and their ideas.
  • Promote democracy in action – listen to all and learn to resolve differences.
  • Respect the rights of others to have different views.
  • Struggle for a programmatic unity on issues — in other words, something everyone in your group can agree on to take some action.
  • Have a summation meeting. Meet again after your action to figure out what worked and what didn’t. What do you think could have been better? Decide if you will do something next, and pick a date for another meeting to figure out what it will be.
  • Have fun doing good things for the benefit of everyone.

The Poor People’s Campaign: A Moral Agenda Based on Fundamental Rights

Over the past two years, the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival has reached out to communities in more than 30 states across this nation. We have met with tens of thousands of people, witnessing the strength of their moral courage in trying times. We have gathered testimonies from hundreds of poor people, and we have chronicled their demands for a better society. The following moral agenda is drawn from this deep engagement and commitment to these struggles of the poor and dispossessed. It is also grounded in an empirical assessment of how we have come to this point today. The Souls of Poor Folk: Auditing America report reveals how the evils of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, and the war economy and militarism are persistent, pervasive, and perpetuated by a distorted moral narrative that must be challenged.

We must stop the attention [deficit] that refuses to see these injustices and acknowledge the human and economic costs of inequality. We believe that when decent people see the faces and facts that the Souls of Poor Folk Audit presents, they will be moved deeply in their conscience to change things. When confronted with the undeniable truth of unconscionable cruelty to our fellow human beings, we must join the ranks of those who are determined not to rest until justice and equality are a reality for all. www.poorpeoplescampaign.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Connecticut-Fact-Sheet.pdf.

DAPL Protester Vic Lancia Arrested and Fined A Year After Wells Fargo Lock-Down

by Dan Fischer, Dragonfly Climate Collective

This an update and thank-you message for those who have supported our friend Vic Lancia. Almost one year after Vic shut down a Wells Fargo branch in Middletown in April 2017, Vic was arrested in February 2018 and fined in March 2018.

On April 7 of last year, Vic, then about to turn 77 years old, locked himself to concrete barrels blocking the entrance to a Wells Fargo branch in Middletown during a protest against the bank’s funding of the Dakota Access Pipeline and other fossil fuel infrastructure. Vic’s lockdown shut down the branch for nearly two hours. Meanwhile, nine Wesleyan University students blocked the drive-through ATM. Police were unable to extract Vic from the barrels and made no arrests.

At the time, Vic offered the following statement: “Wells Fargo is a major funder of the Dakota Access Pipeline. It’s full speed ahead for fossil fuels even as the destructive consequences of their use become more and more evident by the day. Their ONLY concern is profit! This is corporate tyranny! We, the people, will not continue to ignore this to the peril of the young, our planet, and its inhabitants. And that’s why I am here today disrupting business as usual at Wells Fargo. I am here to say no to profiting from climate destruction. We are part of a worldwide movement TAKING A STAND against greedy and parasitic people. We need to get in their way and tell them: ‘NO!'”

The demonstration was organized by Wesleyan Coalition for Divestment and Transparency, Students Against the Fossil Fuel Industry, and Dragonfly Climate Collective.

According to Vic’s attorney, Wells Fargo appears to have requested police action, and this explains why almost a year later on Feb. 20, 2018, a police officer approached Vic on the street, pulled out a badge, and arrested him. The arrest warrant found probable cause for four violations of Connecticut General Statutes: Breach of Peace in the Second Degree, Disorderly Conduct: Obstructing Free Passage, Trespass in the Second Degree, and Interfering with a Police Officer. [youtu.be/UckxZO1ZEr4]

Ultimately, the state attorney chose to charge Vic with the first three of these violations. As a result, Vic faced a maxi-mum penalty of nine months in jail and $2000 in fines. At Vic’s first court appearance on March 1, 2018, the state attorneys said they would get get in touch with the so-called “victim,” Wells Fargo.

At Vic’s second court appearance on March 26, the State offered Vic two non-criminal infractions as a plea deal, which he accepted: A non-criminal trespass (fee: $90) and a non-criminal Creating a Public Disturbance (fee: $90) with costs and fees imposed (amounting to a total of slightly over $2,000). Vic has raised just enough to be able to cover his fines. Anyone who was looking to contribute might instead donate to a number of ongoing sites of resistance against fossil fuel infrastructure. For example, at this link you can donate to the L’eau Est La Vie (Water is Life) Camp resisting the Bayou Bridge Pipeline: bit.ly/nobbp. capitalismvsclimate.org/2018/04/dapl-protester-vic-lancia-arrested-and-fined-1-year-after-wells-fargo-lock-down.

How To Resist War Taxes | War Resisters League

Resisting war taxes is really very simple — don’t pay all the tax due on your annual Federal income tax form, or don’t pay the Federal excise tax on telephone bills, or both.

Summarized below are a few war tax resistance methods. Detailed descriptions can be found in WRL’s War Tax Resistance: A Guide to Withholding Your Support from the Military and through war tax counselors. Contact the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (NWTRCC) for counselors in your area. The probability of collection or prosecution varies among the methods; all — except #4 — are illegal. Serious consideration must be given before embarking on these types of resistance.

1) File and refuse to pay your taxes. This involves filling out an IRS income tax return (e.g., Form 1040) and refusing to pay either a token amount of your taxes (e.g., $1, $9.11, $100), some “military” portion (approximately 1% for nuclear warheads, 4% for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, 30% for current military spending, 50% for current and past military spending combined — see WRL’s pie chart for the latest percentages), (or click on the image below to download the pie chart) or the total amount (since a portion of whatever is paid goes largely to the military). Include a letter of explanation with the return.
2) File a blank IRS 1040 income tax return with a note of explanation.
3) Don’t file any Federal income tax returns.
4) Earn less than the taxable income.
5) Resist telephone taxes.

Read more about refusing to support the war effort by not paying taxes here: How To Resist War Taxes | War Resisters League

VICTORY! Charges Dropped Against ANSWER Organizer Norman Clement!

by ANSWER CT

In a victory for protest and resistance, prosecutors were forced on Friday, March 9 to drop the most outrageous charges against ANSWER Coalition organizer Norman Clement stemming from his brutal and unjust arrest at the hands of the State Police at the Feb. 4, 2017 protest in New Haven against Donald Trump’s Muslim ban and planned wall on the Mexican border.

In the 13 months since the arrest, prosecutors and the entire court system dragged the case on to wear out organizers and supporters, knowing there was no evidence for the fabricated charges like “inciting a riot.” Prosecutors attempted to pressure Norm to plead out to charges without any evidence to substantiate their charges. Police lies about emergency vehicles being blocked during the protest were quickly exposed by local media. Police and their mouthpieces in the media tried to paint Norman Clement as a leader of the pro-test. While Norman is a leader in many movements, the march was a spontaneous response to the outrageous and racist policies of the Trump administration.

As we have said before, we consider it to be no coincidence that the two people arrested on February 4, 2017 were people of color. Norman is Indigenous and Nate Blair, who was pulled to the ground and arrested by the New Haven police, is Black. We also consider it no coincidence that Norman was targeted for being a well-known organizer against war, police terror and for the rights of Native peoples. In addition to his work in Connecticut, he traveled twice to Standing Rock as a Water Protector. The March 9 announcement shows that it is the power of the people coming together that will get justice and fight state oppression.

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.

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