Groups Ask Rep. DeLauro to Withdraw Aid for Police Brutality in Colombia

by Megan Fountain, Unidad Latina en Acción 

On May 10, the Colombian community and organizations Unidad Latina en Acción (ULA), Colombian Action CT, and Black and Brown United in Action visited the offices of Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro to deliver a letter asking her to stop military aid in the wake of 39 killings of civilians by Colombian forces.

Since April 28, Colombians have been on strike after the government announced tax reform that would raise the cost of living of the middle class and poorest sectors who were already devastated by the COVID crisis. Four days into the protests, the government withdrew the reform. However, the protests continued since the demands were much more: mass vaccination, economic aid to the poorest, demilitarization of the country, and dismantling of riot police forces.

In ten days of protest, human rights organizations have documented 49 protesters killed, 37 of them by state forces; 548 disappeared; 963 people arbitrarily detained; 12 victims of sexual violence by state forces; and 278 wounded, including 28 shot in the eyes, by Colombian forces.

The weapons, tanks, and training come from the United States, paid for by U.S. taxpayers. Colombia is one of the top 10 recipients of U.S. military aid, following countries including Afghanistan, Israel, and Iraq.

Connecticut residents asked Rosa DeLauro to raise her voice and join with her colleague, James P. McGovern (MA-02), who said, “I am deeply disturbed by the brutal Colombian National Police (PNC) response to peaceful protests over the weekend. This is part of a disturbing pattern of excessive use of force, killings and human rights violations against protestors in Nov. 2019, Sept. 2020 and April-May 2021… Peaceful protest and freedom of expression must be respected everywhere. U.S. aid to the PNC needs strong human rights protections and conditions. We should apply Leahy Law. No U.S. aid to Colombian riot control police that engage in gross human rights violations.”

“We hope that our congresswoman will use her influence and help us recruit more colleagues here in the state of Connecticut,” said John Lugo of ULA Connecticut. “We also asked her for an urgent meeting with the recently formed Committee of Solidarity with the Strike in Colombia, so that she can hear directly from the Colombian community and understand the gravity of the moment. In the past we applauded her when she voted against military aid in the 2000s.”

Unidad Latina en Acción, 37 Howe St, New Haven, CT 06511, (203) 606-3484 or (203) 479-2959

Israel’s Actions Long Past Self-Defense

by Shelly Altman, Chairperson of Jewish Voice for Peace New Haven

The threatened eviction of Palestinian families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem. The invasion of the Al Aqsa mosque by Israeli troops, firing rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas and stun grenades. The bombing of the building in Gaza which housed the Associated Press and Al Jazeera press organization. All during the pandemic raging in Gaza. It’s all a pattern of erasure that is part and parcel of Israel circa 2021. Erasure of any trace of Palestinian presence between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. Erasure of Jerusalem’s status as a holy city for three faiths. Erasure of news reporting of what’s going on in Gaza.

At the same time, Israel attempts to use its self-description as a Jewish state to erase any criticism of its crimes by labeling such criticism as anti-Semitic. But it is this state that is corrupting the meaning of Judaism and is dangerously fanning the flames of anti-Semitism worldwide.

President Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, nearly silent for so long on war crimes visited upon the civilian Palestinian population in the Occupied Territories, suddenly become vocal when Hamas fires rockets into Israel. Israel “has a right to defend itself,” they say. Dozens of American politicians deceitfully follow suit. But courageous voices in the Congress are now exposing this “right to defend” messaging for its utter failure to acknowledge reality. Reps. Rashida Tlaib, Cori Bush, Mark Pocan, Betty McCollum, Sen. Bernie Sanders and others have pulled open the blinds to expose to the American public the brutality of Israel’s rule. They speak to empty chambers, but their voices echo loud and clear.

Israel is not “defending itself.” It is a heavily militarized occupying force that is using that military strength to oppress and kill those whom it is occupying. That is not defense.

In January, the B’Tselem report “This is Apartheid” documented in detail that “the entire area is organized under one principle: advancing and perpetuating the supremacy of one group — Jews — over another — Palestinians.” In April, the Human Rights Watch report “A Threshold Crossed” added further documentation: separate legal systems, separate road systems, illegal transfer of populations, no freedom of movement, residency rights, or building rights, and an intent by the state of Israel to maintain this in perpetuity. In Sheikh Jarrah and throughout East Jerusalem, we are witnessing 1948 Naqba in real-time 2021: people driven from their homes, the very essence of the Zionist project.

The highly respected Jewish journalist Peter Beinart recently wrote: “The crimes of the past, when left unaddressed, do not remain in the past.” It is well past time to address those crimes.

Shelly Altman is chairperson of Jewish Voice for Peace New Haven.

This opinion piece was published in the New Haven Register on May 19, 2021.

Israel Must Immediately End Its Assault on Gaza: The Imperative for a Human Rights Based Policy Toward Israel/Palestine

Excerpts from Statement by Jewish Voice for Peace Health Advisory Council, May 19, 2021

As U.S.-based health professionals and members of the Jewish Voice for Peace Health Advisory Committee (JVP-HAC), we demand an immediate end to Israel’s offensive war against the Palestinian population of Gaza, and an end to U.S. support for Israeli military aggression. We add our voices in solidarity with our besieged colleagues, the health workers in Gaza and in all of Palestine; with the anguished cries of those who have lost loved ones and suffered terrible injuries and trauma throughout Palestine, and their families in the global Palestinian diaspora; and with the outraged members of Congress who have taken a moral stand to end our government’s complicity in the willful killing of Palestinians.

As Israel reiterates its intention to continue the bombing siege, multiple sources report a death toll of over 200 Palestinian civilians, including 60 children; over 1200 injuries to Palestinians in the last few days, with nearly 500 (primarily women and children) severely wounded; and more than 30,000 made homeless. In a demonstration of the disproportionality of force, the death toll for Israelis stands at 11. An Israeli military operation to clear a network of tunnels in Gaza utilized 160 warplanes to drop 80 tons of explosives over a period of 40 minutes.

Gaza’s health facilities, already near collapse under the Israeli blockade, immense destruction from three wars in recent years, and the COVID-19 pandemic, are now over-flowing with bombing victims. Among those killed in Gaza are a number of doctors and health workers, including Dr. Moeen Al-Aloul, a neurologist with the Ministry of Health who died with his wife and five children. Dr. Ayman Abu al-Auf, an internist who directed Shifa hospital’s coronavirus response, was also killed at home with seven family members in the same incident. Tank and bomb attacks on May 16 not only destroyed many homes and their inhabitants on al-Wihda Street near Shifa hospital, but also blocked access to emergency services and obliterated two private clinics.

[The full text of this statement can be read:]


Notes to PAR Readers

We urge you to check the internet for the many demonstrations protesting the bombing of Gaza. As of this printing, there were rallies and marches in Hartford, New London, New Haven, and Manchester, as well as in cities throughout the US and around the world. The New Haven rally and march on May 22 was in solidarity with the people of Palestine and Colombia, fighting for their right to life and self-determination. Video footage is available at

A reminder that PAR does not publish in the summer. The next issue you receive will be the September issue. If your subscription has expired with this issue, you will have a renewal form inserted in this issue. Please look for it and renew your subscription. We ask for $13, or whatever you can afford.

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Seed Exchange, Sunflowers Sprout from Wilson Library

by Lucy Gellman, Arts Paper, May 20, 2021

Mark Relaford sifted through packets of seeds, studying each label. In one drawer, images of blooming collards shimmered beside bright green peppers and vines heavy with squash. Envelopes for zinnias and deep-veined lettuce sat atop each other. There were large orange carrots and small green peas, striped cucumbers and frizzy heads of fennel. He selected seeds for tomatoes, basil, cucumbers and corn. Just a few feet away, a fleet of baby sunflower plants peeked out hopefully.

Relaford is starting a garden thanks to the seed exchange at the Wilson Library, located just off Howard Avenue in the city’s Hill neighborhood. This spring and summer, the library is piloting the program in an effort to bring awareness to the neighborhood’s network of community gardens and help Hill residents grow their own food. While the initiative is housed at the library, it has gained support from Gather New Haven, which operates farms on Liberty and Ward Streets, and Common Ground High School.

It is the brainchild of Wilson librarian Bill Armstrong, who served as the literacy librarian at the main branch downtown for 24 years before coming to Wilson in 2020. He is also launching a program to cover the neighborhood with sunflowers by the end of the summer.

“It looks like an agricultural project, but it’s actually an art project,” he said. “We wanted to do something that would get the community involved. It’s there to draw attention to the neighborhood, and to urban agriculture … it’s another form of literacy.”

Armstrong was inspired to start the seed exchange after hearing about other libraries piloting it around the country (among them is the Hamden Public Library). He has dubbed it a seed exchange—rather than a seed library—because home and community gardeners are also invited to donate their extra seeds before they expire. Since it started earlier this spring, patrons have picked up seeds for basil, tomatoes, cilantro, peas, green beans, lemon balm, chives, asters, scallions, squash, radishes, and kale among other plants and flowers.

It’s also intended to double as an exchange for information. In addition to the seeds, packets of which are housed in an old card catalog, there are books on gardening in English and Spanish. Flyers list the neighborhood’s community gardens by street and announce the sunflower project. Small planter kits in fiber cups sit nearby. For patrons who aren’t yet ready to grow their own vegetables, the library has assembled take-and-make kits with a brilliant sunflower design.

[Wilson Library is at 303 Washington Ave. and is open Monday-Thursday and Saturday. For hours call (203) 946-2228 or check Above are excerpts from the article which can be found at]

Sign New Haven Bike Vision Petition

by Chris Schweitzer, New Haven Climate Movement

The Mayor and Board of Alders must act rapidly over the next three years (2021-2024) to create an interconnected, protected bike network in New Haven. As the New Haven Bike Vision report shows, there are successful models of street reconfiguration for limited costs, and converting just 6% of City street space to protected bike infrastructure would create an effective citywide bike network. Created in consultation with community members, this bike network would be an important part of a comprehensive redesign of multimodal transit in New Haven that would give residents and visitors safe, healthy, sustainable options to move around New Haven.

For more equitable use of public space, for environmental justice, and because of the climate emergency, we must act now. Sign and more info at:

10,000 Hawks launches to address quality of life issues

by Rachel Heerema

The name 10,000 Hawks honors the numbers of raptors in the annual hawk migration that takes place over Tweed airspace & our East Haven, East Shore, and Fair Haven neighborhoods. 10,000 Hawks addresses quality of life issues, including air quality, noise pollution, traffic calming, walkability, habitat, long-term thinking, and planning for our neighborhood, children, and grandchildren.

The immediate threat is the proposed expansion of Tweed-New Haven Airport with additional runway paving and siting a new terminal in East Haven wetlands. These environmental degradations will have generational impacts.

Our first action is to call for a public meeting to learn the details of this profit-making giveaway of our public lands. Sign the petition and get involved:

Contact Rachel Heerema for more information, 203-747-8606,

The Potential of Solar Canopies in Connecticut

by People’s Action for Clean Energy

Learn about solar canopies at an on-line workshop Friday, June 4, 9:30-11:30 a.m. As Connecticut looks for new places to site solar, our forests and farmlands are under increasing threat.​ ​One way to avoid these conflicts is to take advantage of land already “degraded,” including​ ​parking lots. People’s Action for Clean Energy (PACE) has conducted groundbreaking research into the potential for solar on parking lots​ ​and Kieren Rudge will present the results of this research. We will also hear the practical​ ​experiences of Tim White, a member of the Cheshire BOE, in siting a solar canopy in​​ h​is​ ​town​. ​Stephan Hartmann and Eric Virkler of Ear​thlight Technologies​ will also share insights​ ​from their extensive experience building solar canopies across the state. For registration information, go to You can also e-mail PACE at or phone (917) 843-7214.

Editorial: A Fair Share

by Yale Daily News Editorial Board, May 5, 2021

On March 1, Mayor Justin Elicker unveiled two possible budgets for the upcoming fiscal year, representing two vastly different visions for the future of New Haven and its relationship with Yale. One of Elicker’s proposals is a “Crisis Budget” that would raise taxes on the city’s residents and gut critical city services. The other — a “For-ward Together” budget — would leave in place baseline funding for schools, libraries and public safety. Maintaining these crucial city social services is possible, but only if Yale finally steps up and respects New Haven.

Enabling Elicker’s “Forward Together” budget will require a combined increased contribution of $53 million to the city before the Board of Alders’ June 1st budget deadline.
Thankfully, there is some hope on the horizon. New Haven has been in talks with the Connecticut General Assembly to fund and rework the state’s Payment in Lieu of Taxes program — also known as PILOT, the system that reim-burses Connecticut cities home to tax-exempt entities like Yale with a portion of the lost revenue. If the talks are successful, New Haven could see an estimated $49 million windfall, allowing the city to avoid the worst of the “Crisis Budget” cuts.

But if this is a partial solution to the budget crisis, it is one in spite of any corrective action on Yale’s part. Yale and the Yale New Haven Hospital own over half of the city’s tax-exempt property. Increased PILOT payments would be, in essence, a state of Connecticut solution to a Yale-caused problem. This is unacceptable. As New Haven residents have long pointed out, New Haven cannot afford to continue subsidizing Yale’s existence. Yale is able to bunker down and weather financial storms — the size of the endowment certainly allows for that — but the same is not true for the city. If the University is serious about challenging systemic injustice and inequality, it can start at home: Yale must dramatically increase its contribution to New Haven.

At the very least, this means ensuring that the Elm City can maintain its baseline level of services under the “For-ward Together” budget — an increase potentially as small as $4 million if the PILOT program is fully funded. But the University’s parasitic relationship with New Haven long predates the current year’s budget crisis, and remedying Yale’s centuries of harm requires substantial and long-term investment.

Elicker has previously called for a $50 million annual contribution. Local organizers with New Haven Rising demand $157 million — the amount Yale would pay if fully taxed. The mayor and President Peter Salovey have both expressed optimism about their private negotiations, which is a positive step forward.

For his part, Salovey recognized in a February interview with the News that New Haven’s budget problems are “structural and deep.” But he missed the central point: The structural problem is Yale. When the University deigns to respond to community demands, it does not engage with their ideas. Instead, Yale uses the same canned statements and circumlocutions to defend itself from the pleas of the city. For example, the University enjoys parading the statistic of spending “over $700 million annually directly on New Haven.” What it conveniently slides to the back end … is that “over $675 million” of this figure is direct compensation to New Haven residents for their labor. That is to say, Yale highly depends on local, essential labor — dining hall workers, custodians, office administrators, gardeners and more — but shows its gratitude by turning around and instrumentalizing this labor as a bargaining chip in debates with the city.

Take another example: Yale’s yearly “voluntary contribution” to New Haven is an important, smugly advertised part of the University’s public relations with the city. The amount paid itself, however, is not so unusual. While Yale likes to tout its payment as the largest of any university to its home city, Yale’s payment as a percentage of the home city’s budget … is much smaller than that of peer institutions like Dartmouth and Princeton. The more unusual part is the name — the phrase “voluntary contribution” brings to mind apparent generosity, charity and goodwill.

But New Haven does not need charity. The city is merely asking for their fair share. They’re asking for money for libraries, after-school programs, college counselors, parks and recreation, affordable housing. They ask for enough decency to recognize that Yale’s tax-exempt status is a legal shield, not an ethical one. And what does Yale give in return? Condescension. A lack of engagement. The “we do enough” response.

Yale cannot pack its bags, … and relocate to another city. The University, like it or not, is in New Haven to stay. But it is also clear that the current trajectory is not a sustainable one. How much longer can Yale continue running huge operating surpluses while the city hemorrhages more money … each year? How much longer can we bury our heads in the sand instead of listening to those voices right at home and closest to us?

The budget debate is an opportunity for real change in Yale-New Haven relations. By increasing its contribution to the city, Yale could signal that it sees New Haven as more than a partner by chance, entities glued together only by history and circumstance. New Haven is and can be so much more to us. Let us make our relationship willful and intentional. Let us march on, forward together.

Yale Daily News Editorial Board 

Hundreds March to Demand Citizenship for Essential Immigrant Workers on May Day

Megan Fountain, Unidad Latina en Acción

Banging pots and pans, three hundred marched to demand a path to citizenship for essential immigrant workers in the streets of downtown New Haven.  There were speeches and live music by salsa and mariachi groups on the New Haven Green till 7 p.m.

“People should have a living wage no matter where they come from, their race, their ethnicity, whether they have documents or not,” Mayor Justin Elicker told the crowd in Spanish. “People should have health insurance and paid sick days so that they can care for their families, so that they can support the community. Until we have that, we don’t have a full community that supports everyone.

“We may be essential in your words, but we are dispensable in your actions,” said Max Cisneros of the New Haven Pride Center. “We maintained your society in the worst days of the pandemic, and we deserve equal rights and citizenship. It’s only right. It’s only fair.”

“We want Biden to move forward with immigration reform,” said Kica Matos, former deputy mayor of New Haven and currently Vice President of Initiatives at Vera Institute for Justice. “We are tired of platitudes. I want the President of the United States to affirmatively move forward to fight for legalization, protection and justice for immigrants.”

Undocumented immigrants are disproportionately represented in the “essential” industries that have suffered the highest rates of COVID mortality.[1] These deaths are not accidental, but they have been produced by anti-worker and anti-immigrant policies that have been deliberately advanced at the federal, state, and local levels to ensure that immigrant labor is super-exploitable and to exclude immigrants from health protections and safety nets including the CARES Act stimulus payments.

As President Biden makes the case for a national economic recovery that will invest in life-saving public infrastructure, protesters on May 1 responded by demanding a recovery that includes citizenship and full equal rights for the immigrant workers who have sacrificed for this country.

[1] National Day Laborer Organizing Network. “Honoring The Fallen: An NDLON Report on the Impacts of the Global COVID-19 Pandemic on Immigrant Workers and People of Color in the United States.” April 28, 2021.

Contact:, (203) 479-2959.

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