Absentee Voting in Connecticut

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Ned Lamont has signed an executive order allowing all registered voters in Connecticut to vote absentee in the Aug. 11 primary elections. Secretary of the State Denise Merrill has announced that she intends to mail every registered voter in the state an application that they will need to fill out and return in order to obtain an absentee ballot. That application, which will be sent via U.S. Postal Service, will include a postage-paid return envelope.

Update from Nicaragua as the Pandemic Arrives

by Susan Bramhall, New Haven/ León Sister City Project

In March and April, as the world began to face the historic public health crisis caused by COVID-19, the Nicaraguan government flagrantly ignored recommendations of health and human rights organizations by encouraging mass gatherings and requiring school attendance. During the April holidays, people were encouraged to celebrate semana santa as usual with trips to the beach and large gatherings. As of this writing, there are still no recommended social distancing measures and professional sports events continue to draw fans.

In the last few weeks, reports of the coronavirus illness have begun to emerge in the larger cities and there is now an outbreak in Chinandega – not far from our Sister City, León. There is still no acknowledgment that the pandemic is the cause but hospitals are reporting many cases of atypical pneumonia and a rise in sudden deaths from heart attack and stroke. Nicaraguans are reporting that when patients die, the bodies are buried immediately, often before families are notified. Testing, treatment and results are kept secret leading to more fear and suspicion.

The staff of the New Haven/León Sister City Project are currently healthy and trying to work from home but it is difficult to do social distancing or self-isolation. It is common for homes to contain large extended families and multiple generations and often a small store open to the public. During March and April, our staff was able to continue visiting the rural communities bringing some protective gear (masks) and, most important, information about the facts of the situation. As the community has begun to hear of the cases in nearby areas they are becoming more fearful of people from the city and our staff are now doing as much as they can from their homes.
Our León Director, Erendira Vanegas, reminds us that this is a new crisis within the existing crisis created by the 2018 crackdown against protest and the devastating effect that was already having on the Nicaraguan economy. The crisis created by the pandemic on top of the economic challenges already in play have been overwhelming and has created increased food insecurity. Our Nicaraguan team advises that an urgent need is enhanced access to food for the rural population. The Sister City Project has long been supplementing the meal that children get at school – a meal they may miss if they are not in school. We are currently researching organizations we can partner with to ensure food security for Goyena and Troilo.

If you would like to make a special donation to bolster our programs please visit our website at newhavenleon.org/get-involved/give.

As always, muchisimas gracias to all our supporters in the area.

U.S Military Threat Against Iranian Tankers: An Act of International Piracy That Can Escalate into a War

by Al Marder, for the Executive Committee of the U.S. Peace Council

Iran’s daring decision to dispatch five oil tankers carrying the much-needed fuel for the struggling people of Venezuela is a definitive challenge to U.S. government’s illegal policy of unilateral economic sanctions and its naval blockade of Venezuela. Iran’s action has created a decisive test of the Trump administration’s willingness to continue its violations of international law and the UN Charter by taking military action against Iranian tankers.

The U.S. Peace Council strongly condemns any military actions against the Iranian tankers and calls upon the Trump administration and the U.S. government to put an end to its violations of the UN Charter immediately.

As Iranian tankers approach Venezuelan waters — the first tanker is expected to enter Venezuelan territorial waters on Sunday [May 24] — the Trump administration is scrambling to decide how to respond to a challenge that can determine the future of its policy of unilateral coercive measures against one-quarter of humanity. “We’ve got it [Venezuela] surrounded, it’s surrounded at a level that nobody even knows but they know. We are watching to see what happens,” he commented on the situation on May 20th.

Indeed, this has created a serious dilemma for the U.S. government. A military action against these tankers would be a clear case of international piracy that could lead to military confrontations, not only with the Venezuelan armed forces who are planning to escort these tankers in Venezuelan waters, but also in the Middle East as Iran would be expected to respond to such an act. It would also lead to increasing tensions with Russia. The Russian Foreign Ministry has already warned against any U.S. actions to block the Iranian tankers.

Allowing Iranian tankers to port, on the other hand, would be the first sign of inability of the United States government to enforce its sanctions policy even near its own shores, and would trigger numerous additional acts of defiance by other sanctioned states. This could mean the beginning of the unraveling of U.S. unilateral sanctions policy, something that would have significant negative repercussions for U.S. imperialism’s policy of “full-spectrum dominance” of the world.
The outcome of the current challenge posed by Iran and the resistance of Venezuela — if the U.S government does not act irrationally — will have determining effects on the future of international relations and world peace. It will pave the way for a new phase of peoples’ struggle against illegally-imposed unilateral coercive measures and for restoring peoples’ rights to national sovereignty and self-determination throughout the world.

We call upon all supporters of peace and international law around the world to contact the U.S. White House at (202) 456-1111, and demand that the U.S. Government respect international law and not interfere with the porting of the Iranian oil tankers.

U.S. Peace Council
PO Box 3105
New Haven, CT 06515
(203) 387-0370
USPC@USPeaceCouncil.org
www.uspeacecouncil.org

Excerpts from Looking Back: Justice for Stephanie and Paul, One Year Later

by Mackenzie Hawkins, Yale Daily News, April 16, 2020

In the early hours of the morning on April 16, 2019, Hamden police officer Devon Eaton and Yale Police officer Terrance Pollock fired 13 and three shots, respectively, at Stephanie Washington and Paul Witherspoon, an unarmed black couple in their car.

The day of the shooting, life on Yale’s campus continued as normal, spare a morning email from YPD Chief Ronnell Higgins and an evening one from Vice President for Human Resources and Administration Janet Lindner. … But beyond campus borders, a movement was growing. Activist groups, including People Against Police Brutality and Black Lives Matter New Haven, organized an evening rally outside the Hamden Police Department, drawing a crowd of about 200. Later that night, organizers protested at the site of the shooting on Dixwell Avenue and Argyle Street.

“I think we all built, during this time, the foundation for a relationship rooted in solidarity,” People Against Police Brutality organizer Kerry Ellington told the News in an April 14 interview. “I think all the different communities that were involved wanted to — and still want to — see an end goal where both officers are held accountable for their reckless actions on April 16 of last year.”…

Over the past year, student and community activists have collaborated to organize around last April’s shooting and a broader set of issues — building relationships that have transcended the incident that spurred them.

“There have always been iterations of students who have come through to this city who have really understood the significance of connecting with the community,” Ellington told the News. “So I don’t want to disregard students that I’ve worked with and organized with in the past. … But [the shooting was] definitely, I would say, a significant moment for both black and brown Yale students on campus and black and brown residents in New Haven — a moment that was clear to come together, clear to make a united call.”…

“To see a group of young black Yale students sit down and learn from [local activists] was amazing,” Elm City Vineyard Lead Pastor Joshua Williams ’08 DIV ’11 said in an April 13 interview. He was involved in race-related student activism during his time at Yale and said that New Haven’s black community had played a pivotal role in movements like the one to change the name of Calhoun College.

Yale students showing up for New Haven in the wake of the shooting, he said, was a “twin moment” paired with dining hall worker Corey Menafee smashing a window in protest of Grace Hopper College’s former namesake. New Haven residents have consistently fought for Yale students of color, he said, and students followed and reciprocated in the Founders’ Room that Thursday.

“In terms of an urgent response, it was the first time I had seen black students have this incredible deference to black New Haven — [asking] black New Haven to lead [so that Yale students] could follow,” Williams told the News.

To read the full article which includes much information about the follow-up to the present, go to: http://features.yaledailynews.com/blog/2020/04/16/looking-back-justice-for-stephanie-and-paul-one-year-later

Volunteer Readers Needed for Commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King April 3

by James Pandaru, GNH Peace Council

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

The above quote is from Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence,” which he gave on April 4, 1967, at Riverside Church, NYC. The following year, on April 4, 1968, while supporting striking sanitation workers, he was assassinated in Memphis, TN.

We will honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Friday, April 3, at noon in front of New Haven City Hall (165 Church St.). Dr. King’s words continue to be as relevant today as they were in 1967.

Volunteers are needed to read excerpts from Dr. King’s speech. Please join us in this event to commemorate Dr. King. To take part contact James Pandaru, (203) 933-4043, jpandaru@gmail.com. Thank you.

Hundreds Rally To Oppose War With Iran

by Paul Bass, New Haven Independent, Jan 5, 2020

“Trump says more war! We say no war!”

That chant filled the air on the southeastern corner of the New Haven Green Sunday afternoon as hundreds rallied to criticize President Donald Trump’s decision to assassinate top Iranian General Qassim Suleimani through a drone strike in Baghdad.

The local chapter of the ANSWER Coalition organized the rally, one of many around the country this weekend (over 80 on Saturday alone) and around the world calling for peace as the fears of war mount in the wake of the assassination.

Local activist Norm Clement called the assassination “an act of war and a war crime.” He said it follows in a line of four centuries of land theft and occupation and death forged by the U.S. “This country is the biggest thief ever in the history of mankind,” Clement told the crowd. “They steal everything.”

“Nobody wants war. Nobody wants to be slaughtered,” Fahd Syed of The Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) of CT said in another speech at the rally.

Read the complete article at: www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/rally_to_opposes_war_with_iran.

In Memoriam, Anne Hall Higgins, 1921-2019

by Lesley Higgins-Biddle

Anne Higgins died on October 21, 2019, at her home in North Haven, Connecticut. Known for her commitment to social justice and racial equity, Anne was active in greater New Haven as a founding leader of People Against Injustice (PAI), with a special concern for prison reform and changes to Connecticut’s drug policy. She was active in New Haven/León Sister City Project after traveling to Nicaragua in her 60s and in the United Church of Christ state conference Peace and Social Concerns committee, which led her to be arrested for protests against nuclear weapons in Groton at the submarine base and in Washington, D.C. As an ordained minister, Anne believed unequivocally in “talking the talk and walking the walk.”

Anne was born in Bridgeport where her grandfather had been a progressive minister at Park Street Congregational Church on the city’s East Side. She attended a new, John Dewey-based elementary school that encouraged young girls to play sports, explore their intellectual gifts, and challenge social norms. She graduated from Smith College (1943) with a major in art and then became one of the first women to graduate from Yale Divinity School with a Master of Divinity, subsequently becoming an ordained Congregational minister. At Yale Anne met the love of her life, Arthur Higgins, with whom she co-pastored small rural churches in upstate New York, Colorado and Maine, at a time when the profession was almost entirely dominated by men.

Anne and Arthur moved back to Connecticut to serve parishes in Chester and Wilton, and raise their four children. While in Wilton they became very active in civil rights, with Arthur attending the March on Washington and Anne becoming active in SNCC and CORE chapters in nearby Norwalk. Anne’s critique of the American power structure was a major inspiration for her art and she created many paintings that expressed both oppression and hope, often at the same time.

Throughout her life, Anne remained indomitably committed, both aesthetically and ethically, to a life well lived and that ‘spoke truth to power.’ From her friend Paula Diehl: “Her last years of ministry took the form of programming for elders in affordable housing. She always tried to increase residents’ world-view and help them to better tolerate and understand those who were not like them.”

Anne is sorely missed by her sons, Bart and Gerry, and her daughters, Lesley and Ethel, who are pictured here with her at an exhibition of her paintings at the New Haven Friends Meeting in 2018. Anne’s friends from PAI, the Nicaraguan Prayer Group, and the Friends Meeting, are grateful for having known her. The sparkle in her eyes will be missed by everyone who knew her.

Advocates Applaud AG Tong’s Action to Halt Courthouse Immigration Arrests

by Unidad Latina en Acción

Advocates applauded William Tong after he filed an amicus brief with 14 other state attorneys general supporting the Washington State lawsuit against ICE enforcement in and around the state courthouses.
“In recent months, ICE has interrupted justice in our Connecticut courts, jeopardizing public safety and the rule of law in the entire state,” said Catherine John, a member of Unidad Latina en Acción (ULA). “The state of Connecticut must continue to fight to halt ICE arrests in and around our courthouses.”
An estimated 120,000 undocumented immigrants live in Connecticut. Many of them have been unable to appear at court appointments for fear of hostile encounters with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). When called to courthouses for housing, family, civil, or criminal court, plain-clothes ICE agents have arrested and detained immigrants for civil immigration violation.

One recent example is that of Mario Aguilar, an 18-year-old Wilbur Cross junior who was arrested last September while entering the Milford courthouse to answer to misdemeanor charges stemming from a car accident in August. He spent over 100 days in ICE detention in Bristol, MA, before getting a positive ruling on his asylum case and coming home to New Haven on New Year’s Eve. In October, Domar Shearer went to Derby Superior Court to face charges and was alerted by the Public Defender’s Office that plain-clothes ICE officers were looking for him. After a 7-hour stand-off, in which Shearer stayed in the Public Defender’s Office, while ICE agents and immigrant rights’ advocates waited in the court hallways, ICE left the building and Shearer was able to return to his community.

National immigrant rights advocate Kica Matos added, “Our courthouses are meant to be places where due process and justice are delivered to our community. Using our judicial buildings to hunt down undocumented residents is shocking to the conscience and a gross miscarriage of justice. Our communities are less safe when immigrants who witness crimes are afraid to speak out for fear of going into a state building. No one is served when courthouses become places where people are terrorized and prevented from accessing justice. We are pleased that AG Tong has joined in this amicus brief to prevent ICE from using our courthouses to hunt down immigrants.”

Contact: Catherine John, (203) 887-3788 or John Lugo, (203) 606-3484.

Fundraiser for Venezuela Embassy Protectors Jan. 28, New Haven

by Henry Lowendorf, GNH Peace Council

On (new date, place and time) Monday Jan. 27, 2020, the people of Connecticut will welcome the “Embassy Protectors.” We will be able to hear their story and will be raising funds for their defense.

UPDATE: Friends, Embassy Protectors Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers have to appear in court in DC on Wednesday morning the 29th. They would have had to face an overnight 7 hour trip back to DC if they spoke on the 28th.

Thus, we had to move the date for their fundraiser. Sorry for the abrupt change.

The fundraiser will be held and Zeese and Flowers will speak at the Performing Arts space in the New Haven Free Public Library on Monday, Jan. 27, 5:30 to 7:30 (the library closes at 8).

The forum is free and open to the public, although we will be fundraising. The host, the US Peace Council, is building a list of co-sponsors. For more information, please contact Henry Lowendorf, uspeacecouncil@gmail.com, (203) 389-9547.

On May 16, 2019, four US citizens were arrested in the Washington, D.C., Embassy of Venezuela after having occupied that Embassy with as many as 100 other activists over the course of 37 days.

Those final four “Embassy Protectors,” Kevin Zeese, Margaret Flowers, David Paul and Adrienne Pine, and the scores of others had been asked by the legitimate government of Venezuela to protect its embassy against being stolen by President Donald Trump in an intensification of the US political and economic war on Venezuela, started decades earlier.

“The Four are now facing misdemeanor charges of ‘Interfering with certain protective functions’ of the Federal government that carries a maximum of one-year imprisonment and $100,000 fine for each of them. The United States Government is intent on making examples of these citizens and is using its unlimited resources to make sure that they are penalized and incarcerated.”

Trump, in full regime-change mode, last winter decided who should govern Venezuela. He picked a rightwing parliamentarian, Juan Guaidó, relatively unknown to Venezuelans, to be president trying to force out the elected president Nicolás Maduro. Disagreeing with Trump, the people of Venezuela and their military stood behind the man they elected. In decimating the human rights of Venezuelans, Trump took the whole population hostage by illegally imposing deadly sanctions, threatening a military invasion and backing right-wing violence in the streets. By denying Venezuelans the ability to buy food and medicines the sanctions are intended to coerce that country’s citizenry to submit to the demands of the US.

In parallel to the oppressive measures taken by Washington toward Venezuela, Trump blockaded food, water, medicine and electricity from being delivered to the Venezuelan Embassy Protection Collective, to force them out.

 

Call for Proposals for SCSU Women’s & Gender Studies Conference Due Dec. 16

PAR readers are invited to send in proposals for panels, workshops or lectures for the Southern Connecticut State University 2020 Women’s & Gender Studies Conference. The theme is “Gender, Race, Community, & Conflict: Pursuing Peace and Justice.” The conference will take place ​Friday and Saturday,​ ​April 24 ​and 25​, 2020. Submission deadline is Dec. 16​, 2019.

The world is right now witnessing the unprecedented destruction of communities—mostly Indigenous—and their habitats, including the ongoing fires raging across the Amazon rainforest, the Dakota Pipeline construction, and the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea. Major conflicts have been exacerbated among genders, races and cultural groups, resulting in unspeakable suffering and violence in communities, from the desecration of Indigenous lands and sacred spaces to climate strikes and the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, two-spirit people, and trans women of color.

How do feminists and their communities, Indigenous and settler-colonial, address these problems and heal the breaches that have divided and torn communities apart? How have feminists and activists creatively used the existing power structures to reverse the fragmentation of peoples and break down hierarchies? In the pursuit of peace and justice, what are feminist activists doing within their families and communities to stop the divisions and violence and counter the hatred and demonization against “the other”? How are peace and justice achieved through the intersectional and transnational coalitions across gender, race, class, sexuality, religion, nationality?

Please submit proposals and supporting materials to womensstudies@southernct.edu, with attention to “Conference Committee.” If you have any questions, please call the Women’s & Gender Studies Office at (203) 392-6133. Include name, affiliation, e-mail, and phone number. Proposals should be no longer than one page (250-400 words). Panel proposals are encouraged.

The Women’s & Gender Studies Conference at SCSU is self-supporting; all presenters can pre-register at the dis-counted presenters’ rate. The registration includes all costs for supporting materials and all meals and beverage breaks. For more information, visit the SCSU Women’s & Gender Studies page, or contact Women’s & Gender Studies Program: womensstudies@southernct.edu or (203) 392-6133.

Retooling the Connecticut War Economy Nov. 9

by Henry Lowendorf, Greater New Haven Peace Council

We are totally accustomed to Connecticut’s two Senators and five Congressmembers crowing every time the Penta-gon doles billions of dollars to Connecticut’s merchants of death to build new killing machines.

It’s all about jobs, jobs, jobs. At one time CT had a hugely diverse manufacturing base. CT manufacturing now depends on subsidies from the Pentagon.

Similarly, they rationalize huge military spending, now 69% of the annual budget they vote on and the President signs. That leaves 31% to be split among transportation, labor, health, education, housing, environment and so on. CT’s governor and most state legislators regularly applaud every “gun” that is made here.

These electeds argue “national security.” They never admit that “national security” really refers to the security of giant corporate profits. The U.S. corporate media continually cheerlead war-making and weapons spending. They rarely ask what the downsides are in pouring so much of our national treasure into war.

Connecticut’s cities are running on empty. State government is desperate for funds. CT, one of the richest states in the richest country in human history, maintains the greatest wealth gap in the nation.

UMass studies show that every job funded for manufacturing weapons displaces two jobs creating civilian goods and services. Weapons spending is a job destroyer.

The Pentagon is the world’s biggest polluter and contributor to greenhouse gases. The climate-scorching crisis demands that we convert from fossil fuels to sustainable energy. The crisis demands that we move the money to civilian needs. To save ourselves and the planet from these two scourges we must retool the weapons and fossil-fuel industries into a green-peace economy.

Please join the conversation and design actions at the 4th Annual CT Peace Conference: Retooling the CT War Economy: How We Can Build Good, Green Jobs & Infrastructure for Human Needs & Peace.

Keynote: CodePink Co-Founder Medea Benjamin

Panelists: Miriam Pemberton, Dave Ionno, Mitch Linck, Jeremy Brecher, Denise Tillman, Henry Lowendorf, Bahman Azad.
Saturday, November 9, 12 – 4 p.m. Free and open to all, lunch provided. Middlesex Community College, Chapman Hall, 100 Training Hill Rd., Middletown, CT.

Conference Information: skrevisky@mxcc.edu, Steve: (860) 759-3699.

CT Peace & Solidarity Coalition, peacect.org.

After Week of Occupation of ICE Building, Activists Announce Next Steps

by Constanza Segovia, CT Immigrant Rights Alliance

For one week, under cold rain and wind, community members have been occupying the front of the ICE Office, demanding the release of a Hartford mother from ICE custody.

On Tuesday, Oct. 22, community members and leaders from across the state ended a week-long continuous occupation of the ICE building on a powerful note at a closing rally. The coalition of immigrant and racial justice groups have occupied space outside of the ICE offices in Hartford in support of Wayzaro “Tazz” Walton, a local Hartford mother, who has been in detention since March despite receiving an unconditional pardon by the State of Connecticut and having her US citizen wife petition for her. Each day, the team has spoken to people walking by about the unfair detainment of Tazz, and about the need for CT residents to learn about and protect the state pardon system. They have mobilized the public to contact their elected officials. They have received widespread support, sharing supplies with neighbors. Although the tents have come down, activists are stepping up their efforts to get Tazz released. On Oct. 22, a coalition of immigrant rights groups, led by Hartford Deportation Defense, announced an effort to ask our CT US Senators and Representatives to step in and take action.

“We will continue our fight to demand that our neighbor and friend is released. Tazz is a Queer Black Woman, a demographic that is not well represented in immigration justice. It is important for me as a Queer Black Woman to stand behind and support Tazz, Tamika and family. We will not stop screaming FREE TAZZ until she is out of detention and can live her life in peace,” said Ashley Blount from Hartford Deportation Defense.

Connecticut has one of the most progressive pardon systems in the country and we cannot let that be threatened by this rogue agency. We fight for Tazz but this is also about Richard Thompson who also has a CT pardon and has been detained for two years in Alabama. This is about every person who might be in this situation in the future. This kind of collective effort and joyful resistance that includes children, elders, folks with varying abilities, makes me feel like another world is possible like we can abolish ICE. We commit to continue to envision and PRACTICE ways to keep up the fight while living in joy and love and in relationship with each other.

The New Haven Debt Map: How can we reduce the burden now?

by Annie Harper, CMHC/PRCH Financial Health Project

The New Haven Debt Map is learning from New Haven residents about their debt burden and working to collectively develop local policy reforms to reduce that burden.

People are struggling with student loans, car loans and credit card debt. Many people are behind on rent and bills, or have unpaid taxes, fines, and tickets. Close to 50% of New Haven residents have delinquent debt; rates are much higher in neighborhoods of color than in white neighborhoods. People with debts in collections may have their wages, bank accounts or tax refunds attached. More than 3,000 New Haven households are behind on their UI bills. Many owe property taxes, parking tickets, or can’t afford registration. Their cars may be towed, with retrieval fees too high for some to recover their vehicles.

People also owe mortgage arrears, medical debt, online/TV retail installment loans, tax refund advances, online payday loans, rent-to-own stores, pawnshops, bank overdrafts, child support, IRS taxes, library fines, Medicaid/DOC liens, bail bonds, loans from friends and family, credit from neighbor-hood stores, loans from loan sharks……the list goes on.

The consequences of debt go beyond a person’s finances. People with debt and arrears are more than twice as likely than others to have mental and physical health problems.

We need to know more about how debt affects New Haven families. Is debt a problem? What types of debt burden people most? What can we do in the city to reduce the burden? Can we help people save to avoid going into debt in the first place, and help them repair and build their credit? What policy reforms could help, such as municipal rules around property taxes and parking tickets, or utility bills and disconnections? Could employers help workers avoid and better manage debt?

We need to hear from experts by lived experience when it comes to debt so that we fully understand the situation, and to work together to push for policy reforms that will make a difference. If you are interested in knowing more, please contact Annie Harper, at annie.harper@yale.edu or (203) 295-4143.
Annie Harper is Project Director of the Financial Health Project of CMHC/PRCH (CT Mental Health Center and Yale Program for Recovery and Community Health).

From Turtle Island to Palestine: Indigenous Peoples’ Resistance

by Shelly Altman, Jewish Voice for Peace New Haven

Jewish Voice for Peace New Haven (JVPNH) and Southern Connecticut State University Women’s and Gender Studies (SCSU-WGS) invite you to join us in October at the Palestine Museum US and at SCSU, on the land of the Quinnipiac people, to honor and celebrate indigenous peoples.

Jennifer Kreisberg — Tuscarora, North Carolina — is mother, singer, composer, producer, teacher, and activist, and comes from four generations of Seven Singing Sisters through the maternal line. She is known for fierce vocals, soaring range, and lilting, breath-taking harmonies.

Ali El-Issa — Palestinian American — is the President of the Flying Eagle Woman Fund, named in honor of his wife, Ingrid Washinawatok El-Issa. Ali works on guaranteeing the rights of indigenous peoples across the globe. He is on the Board of the Rigoberta Menchu Túm Foundation and is a principal representative of Ms. Menchu Túm to the United Nations.

Through song and word, Jennifer and Ali will celebrate indigenous peoples on Sunday, Oct. 13, noon-1:30 p.m. at the Palestine Museum US, 1764 Litchfield Turnpike, Wood-bridge and on Monday, Oct. 14, 6-7:30 p.m. at SCSU, Engleman Hall A107, 501 Crescent St.

Indigenous peoples, Palestinian and Native American, have endured parallel attempts to destroy their cultures. Stereo-typed by European settler-colonists as savage, not worthy of occupying the land they occupy, easily relocated, dislocated, eliminated. Walls were built that divide their communities and lands, and surveillance technology has been tested against one people and then applied to the other.
One need only look at the surveillance towers built by the U.S. division of Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest military company, tested on the Apartheid Wall in Palestine and now used to surveil the border lands of Sonora and Arizona, home to the Tohono O’odham Nation. Elbit, in November 2016, offered a system of wide-area persistent surveillance sensors to police monitoring Dakota Access pipeline opponents.

Through all of this pain, but with resilience, sumud (Arabic – steadfastness), and celebration, these indigenous peoples come together to share their culture, their art, and their stories. Join us for this special occasion.

Contact: Susan Bramhall, newhaven@jvp.org, jvpnh.org, www.southernct.edu/academics/womens-studies-program/ programs

In Memory of Caroline Bridgman-Rees and Lula White

The PAR Planning Committee mourns the passing of Caroline Bridgman-Rees (Dec. 31, 1922-Aug. 28, 2019) and Lula White (died at the age of 80 on Sept. 10, 2019), two women with deep ties to the greater New Haven peace community and the world who dedicated their lives for peace, equality and justice for all humanity.

Caroline was an NGO representative of the United Nations and member of a multitude of peace organizations — international, national and local. She was involved with the Progressive Action Roundtable right from its beginning in 1993.

Caroline’s memorial service will be held on Saturday, Nov. 2, at 11:30 a.m., at the Unitarian Society of New Haven, 700 Hartford Turnpike, Hamden.

Excerpt from Lula’s obituary notice in the New Haven Register, Sept. 16, 2019

Most people knew Lula White as a retired New Haven school teacher, board member of the Greater New Haven Labor History Association and member of the PAR mailing committee. For many of us in New Haven, we didn’t realize the scope of her bravery and profound sense of justice until she told us her history of being a freedom rider.

Family members have set Lula’s memorial service for Saturday, Dec. 14. Inquiries should be directed to Lulamwhitememorialservice@gmail.com.

We cherish the friendship, wisdom and inspiration Caroline and Lula shared with us. Our condolences to the families of these two remarkable, brave women who gave so much of themselves for a better world.

We are Each A Precious Entity: The Activist Life of Caroline Bridgman-Rees

The following is an edited version from the tribute written by PJ Deak for the Unitarian Society of New Haven.

Caroline Bridgman-Rees

Caroline was born on New Year’s Eve, 1922 and grew up on Staten Island. Her father, a Yale graduate, was a history professor at NYU for 29 years. A decorated war veteran, he came home from WWI in 1918 traumatized by the horrors of war, its barbarism, death, and destruction.

As a result of her father’s experiences, Caroline became very aware of the toll and folly of war – and of the importance of working for peace. In 1945, Caroline, 22, a Phi Beta Kappa and recent graduate of Smith College, joined the Red Cross. She sailed on a ship to the Philippines where she worked with the Red Cross until 1946 when she went to Korea. Why did she do it? To see the world and “to see life with the soldiers.”

She remembered the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with horror and condemnation – a bombing that in her words “was totally against moral and international law and which began a frightful new era that threatened all life on earth.”

In the 1960s, Caroline began her teaching career at Bradford College in Massachusetts – teaching Asian History and Philosophy. Caroline became increasingly concerned about the conflict between the US and both the Vietnamese liberation forces and all of Indochina.

Caroline Bridgman-Rees, Nancy Eberg and Jim Pandaru (l-r)

She joined a number of prominent peace organizations: The American Friends Service Committee; Sane/Freeze – later known as Peace Action; The Women’s International League for Peace And Freedom; The War Resisters League; Mobilization for Survival; and because of her service in the Red Cross, Veterans Against The War.

“I felt then, as I do now, that non-violent direct action is a citizen’s responsibility when the government is committing major war crimes against humanity!”

In 1972 Caroline was one of 171 American peace leaders chosen to attend the Paris Peace Talks. Also in 1972, she was part of a team of women who traveled to India and conducted interviews with Indian women about the role of women in the world – Caroline even had the privilege to interview Ms. Ghandi. In 1973, Caroline, her husband and 10-year-old son traveled through India, Burma, Thailand, Hong Kong, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Caroline became involved with the United Nations as an NGO representative, and also was active with the Greater New Haven Peace Council. In 1991-1992 she spent a year in England giving 45 separate lectures on Nuclear Disarmament and attended an international peace conference in the Netherlands.

When the first Iraq War began, Caroline was active as the anti-war movement surged anew – seeking avenues for mediation and diplomacy rather than violence.

Caroline attended meetings to discuss and take action on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, spoke out about the size of the US military budget, the number of US military bases around the world (over 1,000) and the pollution they are allowed to create. She wrote letters to the editor that were published in the New Haven Register and participated in the New Haven Peace Council and the Unitarian Society of New Haven Peace Task Force.

“We need community, not guns. We must create a world with love, and caring and cooperation.”

Read Caroline Bridgman-Rees’ obituary on Legacy.com.

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