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.

‘PAR’ to be interviewed live on WPKN’s Counterpoint with Scott Harris tonight

Paula Panzarella, who has been a leader of the Progressive Action Roundtable in New Haven since its beginnings in 1993 (25 years ago) will be interviewed live by WPKN’s Scott Harris, of WPKN’s Counterpoint program, at 9:30 p.m. tonight on WPKN 89.5 FM, and on www.wpkn.org.

If you are unable to listen either on the radio or online, then visit the WPKN’s archives to listen another time.

To listen to the program online visit this page and choose a player. (Try Flash first. It’s probably the easiest, though it is not considered by everyone to be the most secure. But you’ll probably be okay. Or if you are using a Mac and have iTunes, then that is probably easiest.)

From the Counterpoint page on WPKN’s website: 9:30 p.m. — Paula Panzarella, coordinator of the Progressive Action Roundtable of New Haven, CT, talks about the project, a forum for progressive groups in the Greater New Haven area, where actions and ideas are publicized so that others are aware of peace, health, justice, energy, environmental, and other issues for the common good.

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.

Use Your Creativity to Change the World (and this Newsletter)!

PAR Planning Committee

The Progressive Action Roundtable Planning Committee is happy to announce our first-ever contest for a bumpersticker and/or logo for our newsletter. What phrase or design would you want to see on the cars in front of you? What logo for our newsletter would really speak to your sentiments of a better world?

Depending on the number of entries, we estimate we will be able to announce a winner by June. We are offering a $100 prize for the winning entry. All entries must be in black and white, and be mailed to PAR, P.O. Box 995, New Haven, CT 06504.

Please include your name, address, phone number and e-mail address with your design. You do not need to be a subscriber to participate.

Thank you!

Barbados Peace Conference

by Henry Lowendorf, Greater New Haven Peace Council

In early October political, trade union and peace leaders and members of Parliament from the Caribbean organized the First Caribbean Peace Conference in Bridgetown, the capital of Barbados. The US Peace Council was invited to speak and I was pleased to be its representative.

It was refreshing to hear the strong convergence of opinion from the experience of many small, diverse nations and instructive as some of the colonial history was linked to today’s patterns of exploitation and violence.

Speakers denounced the presence of foreign military bases in the Caribbean – including Guantánamo in Cuba and the foreign military presence of MINUSTAH in Haiti – their significant contribution to environmental degradation and actual erosion of security and stability in the region. They demanded that the Caribbean be considered a Zone of Peace as proclaimed by the 2014 Havana Declaration by the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).

A fundamental paradox of naming the Caribbean as a zone of peace is that its island states were founded in the most extreme violence – slavery, warfare, genocide, criminality and terrorism, according to Barbadian Pan-Africanist and founder of the Clement Payne Movement, David Comissiong. He pointed out that European nations fought wars against each other in the Caribbean but in 1559, when they signed a peace treaty among themselves, they agreed that further war was OK as long as it was fought in the Caribbean and not in Europe.

Hope McNish, head of the Jamaica Peace Council, called for an end to US attacks on Brazil and Venezuela and warned of an imminent outbreak of nuclear war between the US and North Korea. She connected wars, refugees and the toxification of the environment, raised the demand for reparations and linked the struggles for justice in the Caribbean with that of Black Lives Matter in the US.

Other speakers reminded us that the 1967 Tlatelolco Treaty, signed by the US, established the Caribbean as a nuclear-free zone.

Read the Final Declaration of the First Caribbean Peace Conference http://www.wpc-in.org/statements/bridgetown-declaration.

Mary Johnson, March 29, 1922-Aug. 13, 2017

It is with great sadness that the Progressive Action Roundtable Planning Committee informs our readers that Mary Johnson, a founding member of PAR and leader, strategist and active participant in most of PAR’s committees, has passed on.

We dedicate this issue of our newsletter to Mary. Without her guidance, ideas for informing the public and each other of rallies and events, optimism in the struggle for justice and her persistence in fighting for people’s rights throughout the years, there may not have even been a Progressive Action Roundtable. We all owe so much to her.

Frank Panzarella, “Mary was the den mother for most of the New Haven activist community.”

Mary was directly active in many of the organizations that are PAR-affiliated. She was also active in most of New Haven’s progressive organizations. She most likely was a founding member of many.
She was a great political and personal influence on many. PAR encourages our readers to send in their reminiscences of her. In the words of Frank Panzarella, “Mary was the den mother for most of the New Haven activist community.”

A memorial is being planned for her with details upcoming.

Barghouti and Nader Accept Gandhi Peace Award

by Stanley Heller, Promoting Enduring Peace

Hundreds gathered at Yale’s SSS building on April 23 to celebrate the Gandhi Peace Award being jointly given to Omar Barghouti and Ralph Nader. The award has been presented since 1960 by Promoting Enduring Peace (PEP).

Omar Barghouti

Omar Barghouti was introduced by Rebecca Vilkomerson, the Executive Director of Jewish Voice for Peace. She decried his Israeli arrest on March 19 as “politically motivated.” She called him a “charismatic speaker, a brilliant writer, savvy campaign strategist, and a principled thinker.”

Barghouti began his talk by noting Palestine “lingers on in colonial chains.” He dedicated his award to Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israel. He asked that his $2,500 prize money be given in equal shares to Black Lives Matter, Students for Justice in Palestine, Jewish Voice for Peace, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, and Friends of Sabeel North America. He talked about the “striking similarities” between Israeli treatment of Palestinians and that of blacks in the days of apartheid South Africa. He noted the recent decision of Barcelona, Spain, which ended its complicity with Israeli settlements and explicitly defended boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS). He also listed many other BDS victories.

Ralph Nader was introduced by activist and mediator Charles Pillsbury, who said he was inspired to be a lawyer by Nader and wanted to be one of the activists dubbed “Nader’s Raiders.”

Ralph Nader said he was a student of Gandhi’s thinking that “open non-violent disobedience be active and not passive.” He said, “Peace is desirable not just on philosophical, religious or argumentative grounds, but a survival mechanism which transcends cultures.”

He talked about terrorism, and said the worst terrorism was “state terrorism” which “is always legitimized as in the ser-vice of national defense.”

At the end of his talk, he mentioned Palestinians and Israelis.

He denounced settlements as “illegal colonies.” He talked about breaking the grip of the lobby AIPAC on Congress and categorized some of the resolutions it advances as “bloody beyond belief.” He asked “Who has killed more than 400 times the number of innocent men, women, and children than the other side? The answer is the Israeli government.”

The talks were warmly received with standing ovations.

For more on this year’s awards, visit http://www.pepeace.org/gpa-2017-video-and-photos.

Celebrate May Day May 1 with International Workers’ Day Rally and General Strike

Call for General Strike on May 1!

For full video coverage of the May Day festivities, visit http://www.thestruggle.org/Mayday%202017%20in%20New%20Haven.htm.

The rally begins with speakers and performers on the New Haven Green from noon to 5 p.m. on Monday, May 1, and will be followed by a Solidarity March starting at 5 p.m.

New Haven joins a call for a nationwide strike to demonstrate our economic power by not going to work, not going to school and stopping business as usual. We aim to highlight the economic power of workers: immigrants, women, Muslims, LGBTQ folks, Native Americans and African Americans and every other marginalized group that is currently under attack by the Trump administration.

We are asking you to join us and show solidarity: close your business on May 1; don’t go to work; don’t go to school.

Join the rally on the New Haven Green from 12 to 5 p.m. Speakers, live music, children’s activities, and a May pole! Join local justice, peace, equality, and labor groups as well as social service organizations, educators, students, healthcare workers, artists and ALL people on the Green.

Join the international workers’ march from the Green through Fair Haven at 5 p.m.

Funded in part by a grant from RESIST, Somerville, MA; web: http://resist.org; phone: (617) 623-5110.

Arrest of Omar Barghouti Complicates Gandhi Peace Award

by Stanley Heller, Administrator, PEP

At 4 p.m. on April 23, Promoting Enduring Peace is to hold its 46th Gandhi Peace Award ceremony, honoring consumer activist and Pentagon critic Ralph Nader and Palestinian BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) activist Omar Barghouti. On March 19, Israeli authorities arrested Barghouti supposedly for “tax evasion.” (Download the event flyer here)

A special meeting of the Board of Directors of Promoting Enduring Peace reaffirmed its choice of Omar Barghouti as co-winner of the Gandhi Peace Award despite the arrest. The Board has full confidence in Omar Barghouti and assumes that Israel is carrying through on its threats to harass and silence Palestinian activists. Barghouti is being honored for his leadership in the BDS movement, which uses the peaceful tactics of boycott, divestment and sanctions to pressure the Israeli government to respect Palestinian rights.

The Gandhi Peace Award has been awarded for over fifty years. It was first given to former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Other laureates include Dorothy Day, Cesar Chavez, Amy Goodman, Rabbis Arik Ascherman and Ehud Bandel, Bill McKibben, Medea Benjamin, Tom Goldtooth and Kathy Kelly.

Promoting Enduring Peace was originally founded in 1952 to foster world peace, in particular to help prevent a world war between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, and has since embraced efforts to avoid catastrophic climate change and species extinction. Its motto is: “Peace on Earth, Peace with Earth.”
The award ceremony this year will take place at 4 p.m. Sunday, April 23 in New Haven at the Strathcona Hall, 1 Prospect St.

In the past year the Israeli government has threatened BDS activists and Omar Barghouti in particular. At a conference in Jerusalem one Israeli minister called for Barghouti to be denied residence rights in Israel. Another called for the “civil targeted elimination” of BDS leaders. Last May Barghouti’s travel permit was revoked. Now he’s been arrested (though released on bail).

You can sign a petition urging the Israeli government to drop the gag order Omar Barghouti’s case, dismiss the charges, and restore his permission to travel abroad and to return to his home.

We could use your help in gaining Barghouti’s ability to come to the U.S. for the award and for the ceremony in general. Contact PEP at office@pepeace.org.

Stop Congressional approval of illegal and immoral wars. Support funding human needs.

Dear Peace Activist!

Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford asked the Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations to provide a LEGAL BASIS for the so called War against Terrorism. This would allow increased intervention in Yemen and Somalia. It would finally put a “legal” coating on, i.e., Congressional approval of, the illegal and immoral Bush/Obama/Trump wars.
We must organize an all-out campaign against this maneuver to “legalize” the aggression of US foreign policy!

We must couple this with our all-out unity approach against the Trump budget of pitting a shameless increased military budget against desperately needed funds for human needs!
The Peace movement must unite, mobilizing our members and allies.

Yours in peace, Alfred L. Marder, President
Greater New Haven Peace Council
Member of the World Peace Council

Resolution to Cut Military Budget Passes Board of Alders

by Henry Lowendorf, GNH Peace Council

The resolution to cut the military budget in order to fund New Haven human services and infrastructure passed the Board of Alders unanimously. The resolution submitted by the City of New Haven Peace Commission was presented at a hearing by the Human Services Committee of the Board and received input from various department heads of the city government.

The resolution called for a citywide hearing to “reveal what the extent of the city’s public and human services needs are, what the gaps are between the city’s needs and all funds provided by taxes, grants and debt, and how those gaps could be met by reducing the annual national military budget” which currently takes more than 55% of the federal discretionary budget and under the Trump administration is likely to dramatically increase.

Asked to imagine what they could do with greater funds, department heads and city workers enthusiastically spoke of providing more nurses and public health services to needy school children, encouraging business development for non-high-tech startups, provide high quality housing, end homelessness, fix potholes and sidewalks, replace outdated public works equipment, take care of the city’s coastline and harbor, replace laid-off park department workers, provide mechanics for the police fleet and build a green fleet garage – among other things.

New Haven Mayor Toni Harp approved of the resolution and offered to submit a similar one to the US Conference of Mayors calling on every medium to large city in the nation to hold such a hearing.
The resolution passed the evening of Feb. 21 calls on the Board of Alders to transmit a letter to federal elected representatives asking what they are going to do to reduce the military budget, i.e., cut spending on wars and move funds to human needs.

“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.

1 2 3 4 5