“We Won’t Go Back!” People’s World African American History Month Celebration

by Joelle Fishman, CT People’s World

“Revisiting Frederick Douglass Two Centuries Later: WE WON’T GO BACK,” is the theme of this year’s 43rd Annual People’s World African American History Month Celebration.

The event to be held on Sunday, February 26, will feature guest speaker James M. Bradford, drumming by Brian Jarawa Gray and a performance by Ice the Beef Youth including the speech that famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass gave in New Haven.

The event will be held at 4 p.m. at Troup School, 259 Edgewood Ave. After filling the Peoples Center to overflow for years, a larger venue was chosen last year.

Douglass’ extraordinary leadership for freedom guides us in today’s stormy political climate with his powerful call to action: “If there is no struggle, there can be no progress….Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will….The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”

In 1864 Douglass (1817-1895) addressed more than 1,200 free Black men gathered at Grapevine Point (now Criscuolo Park) in New Haven to become soldiers in the 29th Regiment of the Union Army and fight in the Civil War.

Guest speaker James M. Bradford is active in the anti-prison movement and Working America in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He chairs the Communist Party of Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware.
Winners of the High School Arts and Writing Competition will present their essays, poems or artwork on the theme “How can we best unite against bigotry and injustice?”

Students are asked to express in artwork, poetry, essay or song: “On the 200th anniversary of the birth of Frederick Douglass, leading abolitionist, orator and writer who fought against slavery and for women’s rights, how can we unite against hate, bigotry and injustice to continue his legacy in today’s world?” Submissions must be received at 37 Howe St. by 5 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 16.

Also on exhibit will be drawings from the Martin Luther King celebration at Peabody Museum created at the People’s World table on the theme, “How can we best unite against hate?”

Donation is $5 or what you can afford. For more information e-mail: ct-pww@pobox.com.

Why is the Department of Developmental Services So Afraid of Publicity?

by Robin Latta, Our Families Can’t Wait

When it comes to the privatization of CT group homes for residents who cannot speak for themselves, the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) strikes out to attempt to keep advocates for the developmentally disabled from talking to the media.

DDS is targeting people who speak out against privatization including parents of group home residents, State workers who are dedicated to caring for them, and other advocates who are against the lower wages and consequent frequent turnover of staff associated with privatization that would disrupt the good quality of care for residents.

DDS knows the public can easily grasp this issue and the fear they have is that we all understand too easily that people who cannot speak for themselves are most vulnerable to exploitation.

Recently, at a public hearing at the State Capital in Hartford a jam-packed crowd of union workers, parents, guardians and advocates spoke out before DDS officials to let them know that they wanted a fully funded DDS with core services to support those who need it most.

Early on in the process of this year’s efforts to privatize CT group homes, one of the parents decided to file a lawsuit against DDS to protect her son from being subjected to the possibility of him being cared for by low paid, unqualified caregivers.

DDS tried to fight back by taking her to Probate Court to try to take temporary guardianship of her son and his medical records because she “was not acting in her son’s best interests.” Why? Because the intense interest of the media on this case enabled her to tell the citizens of CT what was going on. And, in a courtroom full of supporters (which included the media) the legal maneuver by DDS was withdrawn a few weeks later.

At the same time, one dedicated State worker is being harassed because she was seen at a rally that drew media attention. Now DDS is trying to dredge up any employment history that could possibly discredit her.

These desperate tactics of character assassination are meant to frighten and deter others from standing up and speaking out for those who cannot speak for themselves.

On whose behalf does the State act to punish the caretakers? Is it on your (the community’s) behalf? If not, please stand up and say so! Contact Organizer Colleen McGill, cmcgill@seiu1199ne.org.

Inauguration Day Strikers Show Solidarity | NHIndependent

by Markeshia Ricks, Jan 20, 2017

They were Latino, black, U.S. citizens and the undocumented. They were LGBTQIA and people with disabilities. They were white allies and women, immigrants of all nationalities. They were of no religion and they were Muslim.

And at a protest that marched from City Hall and through downtown New Haven, they were all welcome.

As one activist put it Friday afternoon, a political campaign season filled with racism, homophobia, Islamaphobia, xenophobia, sexism and ableism had one positive effect: It brought people out of the silos of their individual causes and brought them all together.

More than 100 people turned out to City Hall on the same day as the inauguration of President Donald J. Trump for a general strike against the incoming administration. Participants were encouraged to stay home from work and school in protest to demonstrate that the very communities that were singled out for derision in the recent presidential election also make valuable contributions to the United States too.

Source: Inauguration Day Strikers Show Solidarity | New Haven Independent

Sex Worker Allies Network (SWAN): Fighting for the Human Rights of Sex Workers

by Maya Menlo and Patricia Kane, SWAN

On Oct. 25, 2016, the New Haven Police Department (NHPD) arrested 14 sex workers in a sting. News media outlets published mug shots of the arrestees. The Sex Worker Allies Network (SWAN) formed in response to this archaic and unjust behavior. SWAN is comprised of a diverse group of New Haven residents, and is headed up by Beatrice Codianni, longtime community activist, and Brett Davidson, Connecticut Bail Fund co-founder.

One of SWAN’s first steps was to organize a rally at City Hall to protest the arrests as well as the public shaming of sex workers in New Haven. Mayor Toni Harp expressed doubts about the wisdom of the NHPD’s approach in an interview with WNNH shortly after the rally.

Members of SWAN met with Interim Police Chief Camp-bell to voice opposition to the sting. Chief Campbell suspended future sting operations in order to allow time to evaluate alternate approaches suggested by SWAN.

SWAN is tracking the arrestees’ criminal cases and has made free legal representation available to those who are interested.

SWAN volunteers have also been walking the streets to reach out to local sex workers, distributing bags of winter apparel and personal care items. Although SWAN’s work has just begun, the response from local sex workers has been overwhelmingly positive. SWAN is committed to lifting up the voices of sex workers in our community.

Studies show that many sex workers are victims of child-hood sexual and psychological abuse. They continue to be targets of violence, including by police, who trade sex for no arrest, or pressure them to become snitches – which endangers their lives.

Many of the sex workers to whom SWAN has spoken have multiple health issues. Some are homeless. SWAN is currently applying for a grant to fund its outreach expenses, and to cover the salary of one or more caseworkers to attend to the needs of local sex workers. In addition, SWAN is also working to raise funds to provide supportive housing to sex workers and women returning from prison. Please contact Patricia Kane (203) 559-1974 to get involved in SWAN’s efforts.

Jews, Muslims Gather on New Haven Green to Protest Islamophobia, Hate Crimes

by Kate Ramunni, New Haven Register, Dec. 22, 2016

Two groups that have been the target of hate crimes joined together Wednesday [Dec. 21} night to jointly recommit to justice for both and urge others to do the same. Members of Jewish Voices for Peace and the Muslim Coalition of Connecticut gathered on the New Haven Green, where they sang songs, held signs and advocated for tolerance. More than 30 people huddled together and traveled from corner to corner around the Green as evening traffic rushed by. [….]

“It’s gotten difficult to be a Jew or a Muslim in American society,” said Patrick Korth. “They are irrationally targeting the wrong people,” he said as he stood with the others at the corner of Chapel and College streets.

Wednesday’s demonstration was organized by Jewish Voice for Peace’s Network Against Islamophobia and set on the backdrop of Hanukkah, which starts Saturday night and runs through Jan. 1. The eight-day “festival of lights” celebrates the re-dedication of the Holy Temple. Signs the demonstrators held laid out their beliefs: “We will not be silent when encountering Muslim and racist hate speech and hate crimes. We challenge through our words and actions institutionalized racism and state-sanctioned anti-black violence. We welcome Syrian refugees and stand strong with immigrants and refugees. We stand with Jews against Islamophobia and racism, rekindling our commitment to justice. We stand against U.S. policies on the ‘war on terror’ that demonize Islam and devalue, target and kill Muslims.”

“We need to change the direction of this country to address the problems of the world,” Korth said, “and we are not getting there with our politics.”

Read the whole story here at the New Haven Register’s website: Jews, Muslims gather on New Haven Green to protest Islamophobia, hate crimes

3-week Replica Solitary Confinement Cell Project opens Jan. 30

Join us at 1:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 30, at the New Haven Free Public Library, 133 Elm St., for the opening event of the 3-week Replica Solitary Confinement Cell Project for New Haven with Mayor Toni N. Harp; Will Ginsberg, President & CEO of the GNH Community Foundation; Hope Metcalf, Yale Law School; and others.

Together with Yale Law School, Yale Undergraduate Prison Project, Sterling Library, the Joint Project Committee of New Haven UCC congregations, Wilton Friends Meeting, and My Brother’s Keeper, the NH Free Public Library is organizing this project as part of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT), the nationwide interfaith campaign to expose and end the torture of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons, jails and detention centers.

More information and a full program schedule will be forthcoming including Judy Dworin Performance Project, films, community panels and more! Thank you to our generous sponsors including the GNH Community Foundation, Dwight Hall and the Orville H. Schell, Jr. Center for International Human Rights at the Yale Law School!

Christian Parenti — Upbeat Possibilities Upset by Science Denier

by Stanley Heller, Administrator, PEP

Christian Parenti gave the Mark Shafer talk for Promoting Enduring Peace on Nov. 17 and talked a lot about events that upended his ideas for strategies to avoid climate catastrophe. He tried to be upbeat about humanity and environment, saying that human and other species routinely shape the natural world and that it can be a good (he gave as an example how Native Americans would burn forests to increase soil fertility and eliminate pests like ticks).

He said humanity as a whole has all we need to turn the corner on climate: first, the technical know-how to get off fossil fuels; second, the cash ($3 trillion sitting idly in bonds and other such paper owned by the super-rich); and third, a way to make fossil fuel use too expensive by using the executive branch power of regulation.

I had interviewed Parenti a week before the election for The Struggle Video News on point #3 and he made a convincing argument that the government could “euthanize” fossil fuel production without a carbon tax and without approval of Congress. It could be done by the Environmental Protection Agency fining companies producing global warming gases. He says many court decisions have backed this up.
This all was thrown off course by the presidential election. Parenti says he assumes the new president will attempt to gut the regulatory state and starve the EPA. So we have to resist. “Standing Rock is the model. People have to attack these infrastructure projects in every way, with their bodies, with sit-ins, peaceful protests, lawsuits and with deals.” He referred to Native Americans in Bellingham, WA, who at first wanted a coal export terminal on their land, but ended by working with environmentalists instead. They killed the project after finding a different one that would create jobs.

That makes the Dec. 3 climate march in Hartford quite critical (email organizers@350ct.org for more information). It’s a way to show that we’re not giving up and that we will reject the science denier’s march to climate suicide. It’s directed at Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and his foolish methane projects as well as Trump and his love of unbridled development.

Action also needs to be directed at Obama. He has almost two months left in office and he can do a lot just by Executive Orders. He can go to Standing Rock, show solidarity. He could even put in federal troops at Standing Rock just as LBJ did in Alabama. He can settle the lawsuit inspired by James Hansen and filed by young people who realize the government is liable for destroying their future. He can do more. He can act now.

Community mourns loss of respected defense attorney Diane ‘Cookie’ Polan

While readying this newsletter for print, we learned of the death of New Haven defense attorney Diane “Cookie” Polan.

In addition to being a friend to many PAR readers, Cookie made herself available to area peace and justice activists who engaged in civil disobedience and who needed legal advice. Personally as well as professionally, Cookie was a defender of justice and her passing is a great loss. Just a week before her death at age 65, she was awarded the 2016 Champion of Liberty Award by the Connecticut Criminal Defense Lawyers. An annual award in her name was established to carry on her legacy.

Our deepest sympathy to her family, spouse Linda Barrett, daughters Maya and Rosa, and her sister Kelly.

See local remembrances of Cookie in other stories by following the links below.

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Tributes poured in from the legal community Friday as word spread that acclaimed defense attorney Diane “Cookie” Polan had died Friday morning at her home in New Haven.

Polan turned 65 in March. One month later, she learned she had an inoperable brain tumor.

Her death came just one week after the Connecticut Criminal Defense Lawyers gave her the 2016 Champion of Liberty Award and created an annual Diane “Cookie” Polan Award. She was unable to attend that event.

Read more here: New Haven loses ‘Champion of Liberty’ with death of lawyer Diane ‘Cookie’ Polan

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From the New Haven Independent

Diane Polan was New Haven’s toughest “cookie” — and New Haven became a better place as a result.Polan, a crusading criminal defense and civil rights lawyer, died Friday morning from an inoperable brain tumor at the age of 65.Her nickname was “Cookie.” She was sweet, but she didn’t crumble easily. If at all.

Source: Civil Rights Champion Diane Polan Dies | New Haven Independent

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From the CT Law Tribune

by KAREN ALI, The Connecticut Law

Tribuneongtime criminal defense lawyer Diane “Cookie” Polan of New Haven, known by her colleagues and the rest of the bar as fierce yet kind, passed away Friday morning.

Polan, who turned 65 in March, was diagnosed in April with an inoperable brain tumor.

Last week, at the very bittersweet annual meeting of the Connecticut Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Association, Polan was given a special award: The Champion of Liberty Award. It is so special that it’s not handed out every year, only when a recipient is deemed worthy enough.

Source: Recent ‘Champion of Liberty Award’ Winner Diane Polan Passes Away | Connecticut Law Tribune

People’s World Amistad Awards 2016, Dec. 4: “If There Is No Struggle, There Can Be No Progress”

by Joelle Fishman, People’s World

This year’s People’s World Amistad Awards are dedicated to carrying on the torch of Arthur L. Perry, a great friend, union leader, and warrior for justice who received the People’s World Amistad Award in 2009.

The event is Sunday, December 4, 2016 at 4 p.m. at Wexler Grant Community School, 55 Foote St., New Haven, on the theme “If there is no struggle, there can be no progress — We march united for Racial Justice, Jobs & Peace.”

Awardees Alder Jeanette Morrison, Dan Livingston and Juan Brito are outstanding leaders who have devoted their lives to the fight for economic and social justice for all.

A cultural program will highlight the event.

Alder Jeanette Morrison was elected to represent Ward 22 in New Haven as part of a labor-community coalition. She led the successful movement to rebuild the Dixwell Q House, a youth center in the heart of the African-American community next to Wexler Grant school.  As a social worker she fights to bring families together and for opportunities for children. She is a member of AFSCME.

Dan Livingston is a groundbreaking labor attorney and life-long union and progressive activist. As a member of a firm of “trouble making lawyers” (Livingston, Adler, Pulda, Meiklejohn and Kelly), he represents many public and private sector unions. He represents, works with, and serves on the boards of many coalitions, community and progressive organizations fighting for social justice in our state.

Juan Brito is a School Social Worker at Burns Latino Academy in Hartford and a member of the Hartford Feder-ation of Teachers. He is a writer for La Voz Hispana de Connecticut and a musician who has been performing with his wife Rebecca Delgado since 1977. He has published two books of poetry about his country and his experiences before, during and after the coup d’etat that affected Chile in 1973.

The awards are presented to allies by the People’s World on the occasion of the 97th anniversary of the Communist Party USA.

Tickets are $10. Adbook deadline is Nov. 18, 2016.  Information: ct-pww@pobox.com.

New Haven stands with Standing Rock outside Wells Fargo Bank

Thirty-five people protested outside of Wells Fargo Bank across from the New Haven Green on Oct. 20 because of the bank’s support of the Dakota Access pipeline.

Melinda Tuhus, organizer of New Haven Stands with Standing Rock, reports: ” …we shut down the bank for the last 10 minutes of the day… We got 25 more names for future work and handed out 100 flyers. We sang and chanted for quite awhile and local activist Norman Clement (Penobscot) spoke about his visit last month to Standing Rock. Afterward some of us discussed potential future actions, most likely around Thanksgiving.”

From the flyer at the protest:

Wells Fargo is a major investor in the Dakota Access pipeline, being built by Energy Transfer Partners at the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation and on their historic territory in North Dakota. The tribe is leading a global campaign to stop the pipeline, which threatens their water source – the Missouri River – and that of millions of people downstream.

Wells Fargo is contributing $467 million to the $3.8 billion globally funded project; the bank needs to cut off its financial support for this pipeline. If you are a Wells Fargo customer, please ask the bank to pull its funding for the pipeline. You can back up your request by moving your money to a local bank or a credit union.

Thousands of indigenous “protectors” are putting their bodies on the line to stop the destructive fracked oil pipeline. Its 1,100-mile path would move 500,000 barrels a day of heavy oil across four states from North Dakota to Illinois, not only threatening the water but also – through its massive carbon emissions – contributing to the over-heating of the planet beyond its capacity to maintain life as we know it.

While the issue is tied up in court, construction continues, and the protectors are facing increasing arrests and more repressive police action in response to their militant but non-violent stance. They say this pipeline cannot and will not go forward, and we stand with them.

For more information go to http://www.nodaplsolidarity.org, or contact New Haven Stands with Standing Rock nhswsr@gmail.com.

Jeremy Scahill Keynote Speaker in New Haven Oct. 8

Between the Lines Press Release

Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker of “Dirty Wars,” Jeremy Scahill will be the keynote speaker at Between The Lines/Squeaky Wheel Productions’ 25th anniversary event on Saturday, Oct. 8 at United Church on the Green, 270 Temple St., New Haven, from 2-4 p.m. He’ll address ongoing U.S. wars, drone warfare and other foreign policy issues facing the U.S. during this presidential election campaign and long after.

scahill-democracynowAdvance tickets are $10/ $15 at the door. Ticket outlet for main event: Best Video Film and Cultural Center, 1842 Whitney Ave., Hamden. Online tickets available at BrownPaperTickets.com: BetweenTheLines25thAnniversary.brownpapertickets.com.

Democracy in Action Awards will also be presented to Barbara Fair, New Haven community activist, to The Dragonfly Climate Collective and to Unidad Latina en Acción.

Scahill is an award-winning investigative journalist with The Nation magazine, correspondent for Democracy Now! and author of the bestselling book, “Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army,” about America’s outsourcing of its military. He is a two-time winner of the George Polk Award and producer and writer of the Academy Award-nominated documentary film “Dirty Wars,” based on his book. His latest book is “The Assassination Complex.”

After the talk, a reception and silent auction will be held in New Haven, $50/ticket. Please RSVP by Saturday, Oct. 1 by calling (203) 268-8446. We’ll give directions when you reserve and/or send check made payable to Squeaky Wheel Productions, P.O. Box 110176, Trumbull, CT 06611. Please include email and/or phone.

For more information see: http://Squeakywheel.net or call (203) 268-8446.

Co-sponsors include Progressive Action Roundtable at PAR-NewHaven.org, The Greater New Haven Peace Council chapter of USPeaceCouncil.org, Promoting Enduring Peace at www.pepeace.org and Middle East Crisis Committee at thestruggle.org.

Speak Up for Your Community and Against Privatization

by Robin Latta, Community Supporter

Families, group home residents and the dedicated state workers that serve them are uniting to fight the Connecticut Legislature and Gov. Dannel Malloy’s plan to privatize the Department of Developmental Disability Services. They are looking for support from the community and ask you to join their fight.

Tell Malloy and the State Legislature that there are other ways to balance the budget than off the backs of our most vulnerable citizens who cannot speak for themselves…there are other ways to balance the budget than to attack well-trained union workers and lower the wages of workers to below that of a living wage.

Based on testimony from a career case manager of thirty years who has worked in private group homes, critical therapeutic relationships will be severed when the turnover of workers dramatically increases due to lower wages associated with privatization. It was also reported that some specialized medical services now delivered in state run group homes will no longer be available in private group homes and residents in need would likely be transferred to a nursing home to receive these services.
Malloy and the State Legislature want to say that the money saved through privatization of group homes will be used to help get individuals off the waiting lists that have lingered there for years. However when asked directly for specific plans to implement this goal, none appear to be available.

They have turned a deaf ear to a union proposal to provide intensive home care services provided by state workers to those individuals on the waiting list (over 2,000 all together) who could most benefit from these services.

We know that ‘austerity’ does not benefit the majority of the people. Instead, let’s stop the endless wars, lower the bloated military budget and tax the wealthy according to their fair share in the wealthiest state in the nation.

Contact: Our Families Can’t Wait movement. Colleen McGill cmcgill@seiu1199ne.org or call (571) 206-7793.

Come to a meeting/stand outside a group home with a sign… WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT!

SEPTEMBER 11, 2016: Flyer Distributed at New Haven Sunday Vigil to Resist This Endless War

Our grief was never a cry for war.

why-warIn the aftermath of the September 11th, 2001 attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, “September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows” and many, many other Americans proclaimed, “Our grief is not a cry for war.” People from all countries, knowing intimately and from long experience the unbearable price of war and terrorism, stood with us in word and deed. For a moment, our shared humanity and grief knew no boundaries.

But more wars were already planned.

The Bush administration used the tragedy as a pretext for the invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001 and to launch the second U.S. war on Iraq in 2003, thus beginning the 21st century by escalating and deepening the state of endless war initiated in the 20th. The lies and distortions used to justify these invasions were reported by the mainstream media, our so-called “Free Press,” as if they were unquestionable fact.

Only the rest of the world seems to have known that they were lies.

The new administration escalated the Endless War agenda it inherited. The Obama administration not only continued but escalated Endless War, making drone warfare—war by remote control—and targeted assassinations key instruments of U.S. “foreign policy.” The collateral damage—aka innocent lives lost—from these attacks is never discussed. Also not discussed is the true reason for this state of endless war: to make the world ever more abundant for the 1% of its population which already controls the vast majority of our planet’s wealth and resources.

In 2016 we have a presidential election in which the issues of war and peace are not even addressed.

The state of endless war is apparently accepted as the norm. The two leading candidates for the presidency of the United States (both members of the wealthiest 1%) simply vie to prove which one of them will be the most effective (or ruthless) in carrying it out.
Is continuing the bloodshed to enrich the 1% the way to honor all who have died as a result of the endless, senseless wars?
We think not.
Can we do better in their memory, and for our future?
We hope so.

Our grief is a cry for peace and for justice.

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