January, 2021: The War Comes to the Capitol

by New Haven Sunday Vigil, Jan. 10, 2021

As terrifying as it was, the attempted coup d’etat that occurred in our Capitol on Jan. 6 (possibly a dress rehearsal for a more organized repeat performance) shouldn’t have surprised us. Led by the recently unelected President of the United States himself, members of the current administration and many of its Congressional allies have been fomenting this for months, if not the past four years. They (and those who follow them) will continue to organize for an alt-right, white supremacist-based government takeover unless and until they are removed from office and, hopefully, tried and convicted as traitors.

But how likely is such an outcome? What we have seen since 2016, writ large last Wednesday, are dramatic representations of evils that have been entangled in our nation’s history from its inception: racism, militarism, empire-building, and permanent conditions of economic injustice and war-making.

A Formidable History (AND Present) That Must Be Overcome

In the process of forming this nation, non-white people already living here were displaced, murdered, and, finally, driven into concentration camps in the name of “manifest destiny.” Another group of non-white people was kidnapped, enslaved, and stripped of all human rights to serve as unpaid laborers. After slavery ended, laws were enacted that kept them separate, disenfranchised, and impoverished. They also faced lynch mobs of their fellow citizens that reinforced this system.

Meanwhile, deliberately unequal distribution of resources — land, education, jobs, and income — gave an ever-shrinking number of the population wildly disproportionate access to power and money, a status quo they have maintained and increased over the centuries by pitting the rest of us against each other based on skin color and other characteristics. Simply put, racism and white supremacy have continued to serve the interests of empire-building and wealth consolidation so efficiently that, last Wednesday, an angry white mob was once again led to act on the belief that they have more in common with a corrupt billionaire than with their fellow citizens.

1814 (when British troops set fire to the Capitol building) was the last time such large-scale violence has been visited upon the halls of the U.S. Congress. But throughout the 20th century and during the first two decades of the 21st, our government has organized similar insurrections (some successful, some not) in nations throughout the world whose leaders, for whatever motives, refuse to dance to America’s tune. To quote U.S. Labor Against Racism and War: “With bipartisan Congressional backing, the U.S. has supported violent coup attempts in Bolivia, Venezuela, China, Ukraine, Libya, Nicaragua, Brazil, Syria, and other countries where U.S. oil companies and weapons contractors salivate for profits and regime change.” (https://www.laboragainstracismandwar.org/post/attack-on-congress-shows-we-need-a-strong-labor-movement?)

In the service of these same interests, our nation has been in a permanent state of war since the middle of the 20th century, with “Congressional Authorizations for the Use of Military Force” from Korea and Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan. Along with U.S. serial bombings and military occupations throughout the world, these undeclared but very real wars continue with no end in sight.

War fuels the U.S. economy and helps make the billionaire class ever wealthier and more powerful. In 2020, while the pandemic killed over 360,000 people in the United States alone, weapons contractors took in record profits. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 provided for a military budget of $740 billion and was unchallenged by either party. Meanwhile, we are dealing with massive unemployment, evictions, and an overwhelmed medical system threatening to withhold treatment for the most vulnerable among us.

All of this is what we mean by “endless war” — singular not plural — the war that came to the U.S. Capitol last week.

Reclaiming Our Power As Historical Actors

This war that we face on all fronts transcends partisan politics, and the work to resist it continues with more urgency than ever. We must reclaim our power. For all the injustices woven into its founding, our nation was also constructed around the principle of deeply engaged citizens, able and willing to think and act rationally for the common good. Recently, we have seen the examples of Black Lives Matter, the Climate Change Movement, and the successful effort to unseat two wealthy incumbent Senators in Georgia. We have witnessed labor, human rights and anti-war movements bring about change throughout our history. It is time for us to reclaim that legacy of positive action to finally build a just and equitable society.

RESIST THIS ENDLESS WAR (Vigil every Sunday, 12-1 p.m., Broadway, Park and Elm streets, New Haven, CT) http://newhavensundayvigil.wordpress.com

The Friends of Kensington Playground – Update

by Jane Comins, Friends of Kensington Playground

Our efforts to save Kensington Playground from development continue. As you will recall, the City has voted to sell the parkland to The Community Builders for $1 so that a 15-unit apartment building and parking lot can be built on the greenspace. We have posted citizen’s guides to the National Environment Policy Act (NEPA) and Section 106 review (National Historic Preservation Act) on our website, along with our legal complaint and the alternative building sites that we have proposed. Dwight needs our largest park and only public playground. Take a look and join us in our fight.

Thanks to those who donated. We are up against a national corporation.

Please donate. To learn more, get involved, and donate, visit: KensingtonPlayground.org

Community Sustainability/ Free Organic Vegetable Gardening Virtual Workshops

by Tebben Lopez, Neighborhood Housing Services

Considering the circumstances we are in and the exacerbated concerns around food security, we are offering this year’s classes free of charge for everyone. The series will be virtual to ensure everyone’s safety.

Are you or a loved one a gardener who can’t wait for the ground to thaw? Prepare for Spring with our 6-class organic vegetable gardening series taught by Advanced Certified Master Gardener Rachel Ziesk! All classes are virtual and take place on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

February 6: Soils and Composting – The most important component for a successful garden is soil health. Learn how to make your own compost and everything else you need to keep your soil healthy for the most productive garden.

February 13: Garden Planning & Season Extenders – Ensure a long and productive growing year with row covers, organic mulch, cold frames and more! Get the most out of even a small garden space.

February 20: Cool Weather Crops – Start your garden as soon as the soil thaws, even in mid-March! This class covers how and when to plant cool weather crops and manage their pests and diseases.

February 27: Warm Weather Crops – Learn how to make the best of our growing season including which warm-weather crops are best started indoors, which can be direct-seeded, what conditions and fertilizers each crop prefers, and how to fight their pests and diseases organically.

March 6: Seed Starting – Start your own seedlings! Learn about when to start indoor seedlings, watering, using lights, and dealing with common problems. We will also review which crops can be planted directly outdoors and when.

March 13: Weeds: the Good, the Bad, and the Tasty – Some “weeds” are actually native wildflowers benefitting your vegetable garden’s pollinators. Some are invasive horrors with plans to take over your garden. And some are edible, delicious little morsels that can be harvested and enjoyed.
For more information, please contact Kathy Fay, (203) 562-0598 ext. 225, kfay@nhsofnewhaven.org.

Willard Uphaus Exonerated Posthumously

This notice appeared in the Fall/Winter 2020/2021 World Fellowship newsletter: “New Hampshire House of Representatives passed a bill to posthumously exonerate past director [and notable New Haven resident] Willard Uphaus of his McCarthy Era contempt of court conviction. Thanks to Rep. Renny Cushing’s love and leadership!”

More info in Concord (NH) Monitor: https://www.concordmonitor.com/Willard-Uphaus-and-the-Red-Scare-31177116.

Why Are Worker Co-operatives Rising in the United States?

by Robin Latta and Lindsay Mathews, PAR readers

One person, one vote.

How would you like to vote for who your next work supervisor will be? Do you think you should have a say in how much you and your co-workers make? And, do you believe you have a right to vote on what you need to stay safe in your workplace?

These democratic rights are yours if you are part owner of a worker co-operative.

Visualize yourself as a partner in a worker-owned co-operative. As a partner, you get to vote on your own and your co-partners wages, working conditions, and where the profits of the enterprise go. Not only that, but people who are partners in a worker co-operative have a different, more personal, motivating approach to their work because they are working for themselves!

The basic structure of worker co-operatives makes the workers feel as though they have their shoes on straight instead of backward. This may sound like a worker’s paradise, but democracy is hard. It’s difficult.

The alternative, however, is corporate power acting like Santa Claus. Here the bosses and corporate thieves gift to the workers what they will receive from the fruits of their labors. Although a union in a corporate workplace advances workers’ rights, for those of us who want a truly democratic workplace, co-operatives can be the better choice.

In the US, corporate Santas/CEOs are paid over 300 times as much as the typical worker. In New Haven, corporate-owned Subway and Ann Taylor recently closed. Had they been worker co-operatives, the workers would have been able to make the decisions needed to keep everyone employed proving, again, that worker co-operatives are more resilient even during tough times.

Visualize a worker cooperative at the North Pole!

Suggested resources:

Valley Alliance of Worker Co-operatives, (413) 268-5800 or info@valleyworker.coop
United States Federation of Worker Co-ops, (415) 292-7277
or info@usworker.coop

Assisted Suicide? It Depends Where You Stand

by Lisa Blumberg, Second Thoughts Connecticut

It’s déjà vu as the legislature again considers an assisted suicide bill.  How you feel about assisted suicide seems to depend on whether you have always had full access to quality health care or are part of a group that has been subject to health care disparities and devaluation.

Let’s be clear. This is not a patients’ rights bill. People al-ready have the right to refuse any treatment they don’t want.

It does not expand access to palliative care. It does not assure that everyone has the same opportunities for life-saving treatment or in-home care. It certainly does NOT eliminate medical prejudices.

This is a bill that gives doctors immunity for prescribing lethal drugs to certain patients who ask for them, if minimal criteria are met.

The supposed safeguards only apply to the prescribing of drugs rather than their use. We don’t know if a patient is competent when he takes them. We don’t know if he is having “a bad day.” We don’t know anything. We cannot afford to just have faith.

We are living in grim times. The difficulties created by the pandemic have caused domestic abuse to skyrocket. (1) There are bound to be at least some cases where a person is steered or coerced into taking the pills by someone whose life might be emotionally, practically, or financially easier if he died sooner rather than later.

A Boston University study has found that COVID-19 related stressors have caused one out of three adults to be depressed. The lead author wrote. “We would hope that these findings promote creating a society where a robust safety net exists.” (2)

Legalizing assisted suicide would increase the shredding of the social fabric. Now is not the time for the state to enact this type of law.

Lisa Blumberg is a lawyer, writer and disability rights activist. She is a member of Second Thoughts Connecticut.

Footnotes
1. https://www.webmd.com/lung/news/20200818/radiology-study-suggests-horrifying-rise-in-domestic-violence-during-pandemic#1
2. https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2020/09/ depression-triples-us-adults-amid-covid-19-stressors

Here is a link to an Op-Ed piece by Ms. Blumberg, published in the CT Mirror on Jan. 19, 2021.
https://ctmirror.org/category/ct-viewpoints/separating-myth-and-reality-in-aid-in-dying.

The Bridge & Tunnel Crowd Newsletter: Monthly Shmata of the Metropolitan Area’s Huddled Masses

by Win Vitkowsky, Publisher, B&TC

The Bridge & Tunnel Crowd Newsletter is seeking to publish (or re-publish) oral histories for “Seditious Aliens: Histories of Class Struggle in the Tri-State.”

Areas of interest include (but are not limited to) anecdotes and stories about:

  • Actions around public transit
  • Public housing and tenant organizing
  • The Workers Circle [aka Workmen’s Circle] on Legion Avenue (or any ethnic and social circles)
  • Town-Gown conflict
  • Interesting sub-cultural happenings from the past
  • Instances of multicultural or cross-ethnic cooperation and collaboration

Any and all pitches are welcomed. Photos, recorded stories, written memoirs, or brief memories all welcomed.

Previously in The Crowd’s “Seditious Aliens” Series:

#1 Anarchistic Italians, Hanged: an interview with Jean P. Moore, the great-niece of two Italian immigrant anarchists from New Britain, CT who were hanged right before the first Red Raids of 1919. [vol.1 no 6]

#2 A timeline of class warfare in the USA 1900-1919, illustrated by Jersey City’s DISTORT with  Jean P. Moore’s research for a family memoir. [vol. 1 no. 7]

#3 The Labor Spy Racket: snapshots of union busting tactics from 1937. [vol.1, no. 9]

#4  The Dynamite Express or how I learned to stop working and love the bomb: poet Dave Morse’s hot relative halted a train full of scabs to break a miner strike.  [vol. 2 no. 2]

No More Jail Time for Nuclear Resister Mark Colville

by Stanley Heller, Administrator, Promoting Enduring Peace

The last of the Kings Bay Plowshare 7, New Haven’s Mark Colville, is slated to be sentenced Feb. 19. One of the other 7 has received 33 months in prison. Promoting Enduring Peace has started an online petition asking that Colville get no more jail time. The link is below, and the text of the petition is below that. It will be featured on the home page of PEPeace.org. https://www.change.org/p/judge-lisa-godbey-wood-no-more-jail-time-for-nuclear-resister-mark-colville

Petition Text

In view of the treaty that bans nuclear weapons possession, we call on Judge Lisa Godbey Wood to sentence Mark Colville to “time served” for his act of conscience.

Mark Colville and plaque with Kings Bay Plowshares 7 blood

On April 4, 2018, Mark Colville and 6 others entered the Kings Bay nuclear sub base in Georgia and purposely damaged a plaque on a wall and a model of a Trident nuclear-armed submarine. They felt they had to do something to alert the world about the paths being taken towards nuclear war. Indeed the U.S. has undertaken a $10 trillion modernization program of those weapons and has renounced arms control treaties. On Jan. 22, 2021, a treaty went into effect banning possession of nuclear weapons. 50 nations have signed it though the U.S. government has not done so. In view of the rising chance of nuclear war and the wave of worldwide revulsion against nuclear weapons we call for Colville’s sentence to be the 15 months of imprisonment that already has been “time served”.

The nuclear sword hangs over us all as the Doomsday Clock is only 100 seconds from midnight. We learned from Nancy Pelosi’s call to the head of the Joint Chiefs that any U.S. president (no matter how unbalanced) can order a nuclear strike at any time. We hope this petition will help spur more anti-nuclear weapon work and a new look at the idea of “No First Strike.”

Legislation for Lawyers for People Facing Eviction

Stephen Poland, Central CT DSA

In late December, a petition was launched by Central CT DSA that calls on Connecticut legislators to propose and pass Right to Counsel legislation guaranteeing the right to no-cost legal counsel to all residential tenants facing eviction proceedings.

Right To Counsel has dramatically reduced evictions in every municipality where it has passed the last several years, and Connecticut could be the first to pass it statewide.

In its first 10 days, the petition received over 500 signatures, with the campaign now including endorsements from over 30 progressive, community, and legal organizations from around the state. Central CT DSA, and the growing coalition of organizations supporting the petition, are now organizing to push for a Right To Counsel bill to be introduced and passed this legislative session.

Watch the launch event at:
https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=1029312514213805&ref=watch_permalink

Read, sign and share the petition at:
https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/right-to-counsel-for-evictions-in-connecticut

Justice for Mubarak Soulemane – One Year Later

Mike Merli, PAR reader

On Dec. 27, 2019, I took shahada at the Friday Jummah prayer at the Bridgeport Islamic Community Center, and officially converted to Islam, in public, in front of so many people. It was a beautiful moment, filled with love, and lots of hugging and happiness as I entered a new chapter in my life. Or, in many ways, began life anew.

Mubarak is a word, a name, a greeting we say, and a blessing we offer to each other, on joyous occasions, and holidays and on every Friday, which marks the most important day and prayer of the week, the Jummah prayer, or Friday afternoon prayer.

Eid Mubarak. Ramadan Mubarak. Jummah Mubarak.

I’ll never forget learning the name Mubarak Soulemane, shot and killed by Connecticut State Trooper Brian North on January 15, 2020. Less than a month after I converted to Islam.

Last Friday night, one week ago today, marked one year. To mark the anniversary, there was a vigil, a beautiful, and heartbreaking gathering at the site of Mubarak’s murder, on Campbell Avenue in West Haven. Mubarak’s family and friends were joined by community and neighbors who showed up in solidarity and support.

Justice for Mubarak organizer Kira Ortoleva spoke about meeting Mubarak as a student at Gateway Community College in New Haven. She talked about how they became best friends. She spoke of Mubarak’s heart, his generosity, the kindness with which he lived his life, and how much he cared about other people.

Mubarak’s mother Omo lifted her voice through so much pain, and in tears spoke about her son. Her family’s devastating and unimaginable loss was tangible and heartbreaking.

Other relatives of Mubarak’s spoke as well and illuminated his beautiful life for the world to see. His pursuit of business, his passion for sports.

West Haven-based organizer Farah Najjari emphasized the need for centering Black lives in this moment. As someone who is Muslim herself, she closed her powerful speech by addressing Mubarak’s family and saying, “Inna lillahi wa inna illahi rajioon” (“Verily we belong to Allah, and to Allah we return”).

There were chants of Black Lives Matter, and Justice for Mubarak that reverberated throughout that underpass that night, and inside each of us gathered there.

Middletown State’s Attorney Michael Gailor still hasn’t made a decision yet on whether or not he will charge Trooper Brian North for Mubarak’s murder.

We have to keep learning about Mubarak. We have to keep saying his name. We have to keep supporting his family, and fighting for justice.

To connect with the Justice for Mubarak movement and stay updated:
www.facebook.com/justiceformubarak
www.instagram.com/justiceformubarak

Mariyann Soulemane’s recent interview on Counterpoint with Scott Harris: btlonline.org/mariyann-soulemane-fights-for-justice-for-her-brother-slain-by-ct-state-police

My recent interview with Kira Ortoleva on WPKN’s Mic Check: soundcloud.com/wpkn895/mubarak-soulemanes-murder-by-ct-state-police-one-year-later

Department of Education Seeking Contact Tracing Support Staff

The Connecticut Department of Education is seeking to hire support staff for a K-12 contact tracing program, hoping to better control and monitor the potential spread of COVID-19 among students, staff, and faculty members. The contact tracing protocol involves finding individuals who came within close contact with infectious or potentially infectious individuals, isolating them, and voluntarily quarantining them. To apply, please fill out an application form at docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSclg9uTdIWRs51y7Z03uLPTP3VHsFkmlRyb6UntLJXX82J6mQ/viewform

Take Action for Safe Streets in CT

As part of the 2021 legislative session, H.B. No. 5429 has been introduced by the Transportation Committee and there was a public hearing Wednesday, January 27.

facebook.com/newhavenclimatechangemovement/photos.

What is H.B. No. 5429? This is an act concerning:

  • Pedestrian safety
  • Vision zero council
  • Speed limits in municipalities
  • Fines and charges for certain violations
  • The greenways commemorative account
  • Maintenance work zone and school zone safety enforcement

Go to http://cga.gov/asp/cgabillstatus for more information about this bill. Please share with your networks, call your reps and senators in support. Thank you for taking action!

COVID-19 Vaccine Information

By now, we hope PAR readers know that residents 75 years of age and older can get the COVID-19 vaccine. As of this printing, sometime in February, eligibility for the vaccine will be granted to people 65 years of age and older, front line workers, and people with underlying health conditions. Please call 2-1-1 for updated COVID-19 information. We want all of our readers to continue to wear masks and observe the recommended 6-feet anti-social distance guidelines. It won’t be for too much longer. Remember, it’s better to be patient than to be a patient.

The following notice was sent out by Sen. Martin Looney.

Those 75 and Older Can Now Register to Receive the COVID-19 Vaccine

The state’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts have now expanded to phase 1b, and as a result, Connecticut residents who are 75 years or older now qualify to receive vaccines. Due to limited supply of the vaccine, registering through an online or phone system will be necessary.

To register online, please visit the Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS). When accepted into the registration portal, you will receive emails detailing the next steps necessary in the scheduling process.

To register by phone, please call (877) 918-2224 during weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
For more information on Coronavirus and the vaccine, visit: https://portal.ct.gov/coronavirus. Or call the CT Virtual Assistant: (833) 250-7633. For those who are deaf or hard of hearing, please use 7-1-1 for relay services.

1 2