Don’t Move to South Dakota!

by Joseph A. Luciano Sr., Rapid City SD

[Joe Luciano, currently of Rapid City, lived in Seymour and was a fierce advocate for disability access and disability rights. He would often contribute articles to PAR. We are glad he sent us his musings about disability access (and non-access) in his new home town.]

Last year I moved west from downtown Seymour after realizing it would never become a Livable Community in my lifetime. (By “livable community” I mean ADA compliant, ready to support independent living and Aging in Place.)

The New Haven Register’s senior editor, James Walker, did a story about me going westward: “A senior with disabilities heads west.” (www.nhregister.com/news/article/James-Walker-Bound-A-senior-with-disabilities-13772366.php)

While the town demolished pot-holed downtown streets and broken sidewalks and replaced them with crosswalks and curb ramps, the work was botched. Some crosswalks led to sidewalks not provided with ADA-required curb ramps; some curb ramps did not lead to ADA-required level landings. In winters, law enforcement continued its policy of not enforcing the snow-removal ordinance. Because of that, disabled residents using wheelchairs (myself included) encountered barriers of snow, denying us accessible routes to groceries, pharmacy, banking, and other common needs. Most appalling, the police department held a “Coffee with Cops” good-will event . . . at an inaccessible downtown restaurant. They just didn’t get it.

Quality of life in downtown Seymour became so intolerable I decided to move. I chose the “Fifth-Best Place in America to Successfully Age in Place.” Rapid City, South Dakota.

Actually there were other reasons that were the deciding factor: both my sons lived there—also my grandchildren. And my home church was there too. And a world-class cancer care institute. I needed all of those.

To anyone thinking of following in my wheel tracks: Don’t! South Dakota has the worst reputation in social and human services. (Teacher salaries are the lowest in South Dakota.) Elders with disabilities who chose to live independently (like me) are struggling to make ends meet. That’s because the bar to qualify for support services, personal care aides, companion/homemaker aides, and South Dakota’s version of Medicaid is set so high it’s beyond reach of most who need it. And if you need healthcare you will drown in co-pays. What’s more, accessible housing costs are unreasonably high; I’m paying more for less space. As for the para-transit system (Dial-A-Ride), it’s the worst. (I suffered in-juries on my very first ride; I tipped over backwards be-cause drivers do not practice safe standards for boarding wheelchair passengers like in Connecticut. As for pizza, no place here in “prairie land” makes pizza like Pepe’s Pizza or Modern Apizza. (But I get equal or better pizza; my sons built a backyard brick, wood-fired pizza oven.)

Nevertheless, I’m staying here. The reason is simple: I’m living near family. My sons are just a few minutes away by car. They are my rides to church and Sunday dining out, some medical treatments, road trips, and family gatherings at their homes. Views of the Black Hills from my apartment are spectacular.

Stay where you are!

Breonna Taylor March Shuts Down Whalley Ave | Thomas Breen New Haven Independent

Thomas Breen photos Protest dance party breaks out at Whalley and Sherman.

Read the whole story and see all the photos here:

https://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/breonna_taylor_march/

Two dozen young, Black women jumped and danced and sang in the middle of the intersection of Whalley Avenue and Sherman Avenue as several hundred fellow protesters sat in the street and blocked traffic on all sides.

“Black women matter!” the group cheered, a portrait of Breonna Taylor held aloft nearby. “Black women matter!”

That spontaneous, cathartic 10-minute dance party came more than two hours into a Thursday evening rally organized by Black Lives Matter New Haven in honor of Taylor.

Taking place well after the sun had set, with cars honking—some in frustration, some in support—all around the island of protesters, the moment represented the emotional climax of four-hour action filled with grief, outrage, joy, indignation, and an intensely political thirst for justice.

The catalyst for Thursday’s march was a Kentucky grand jury’s decision the day before to not charge the officers who shot and killed Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical technician, in her Louisville home in March during a botched drug raid. The only indictment the grand jury did hand down was a charge of wanton endangerment against a now-former detective who shot into Taylor’s neighboring apartments. The grand jury decision has sparked demonstrations throughout the country.

Thursday’s demonstration in New Haven brought together roughly 300 people to the Green—and then into the streets, for three-and-a-half hours of marching and mourning and chanting and blocking of traffic.

Read the full article at https://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/breonna_taylor_march/

Anti-Police Violence March Shuts Down Grand Avenue | New Haven Independent

New Haven anti-police-brutality activists marched in support of survivors of police violence — they heard a call for action from Emma Jones at the Fair Haven spot where an East Haven police officer shot and killed her son 23 years ago.

“You must continue this struggle,” she implored the crowd, including newer activists in a cause she has championed for decades.

Roughly 70 demonstrators gathered on the Green at 2 p.m. Saturday and shut down Grand Avenue as they marched to the spot where Malik Jones was killed in 1997 after a high-speed cross-border chase.

Police accountability activist Jewu Richardson organized Saturday’s unity walk in collaboration with Building It Together, CT Bail Fund, The Malik Organization, People Against Police Brutality and Black Lives Matter New Haven.

On the Green, Richardson (pictured), who was shot by New Haven police in 2010, said police violence isn’t only the brutality that people see on TV, but is deeper and more systemic: “People are in jail decades because of false charges. A lot of people don’t see that trauma that people are going through and the stuff behind those walls, but it’s real.”

He stated that police and prosecutors work together with “legal tactics” to convict innocent people in Connecticut and nationwide. “When the system we’re supposed to trust and believe ends up abusing and murdering us, we’re left with communities that are suffering from decades of trauma,” Richardson said.

Read the whole story here: Anti-Police Violence March Shuts Down Grand Avenue | New Haven Independent

Statue Readied to Honor ‘Black Governor’

Thomas Breen, New Haven Independent, July 10, 2020

A seven-foot-tall bronze statue of William “King” Lanson will soon stand along the Farmington Canal — giving a permanent, public, and highly visible form to a Black New Havener who helped build the modern city. The Lanson statue represents the culmination of a decade’s worth of advocacy by the Amistad Committee, working in recent years with the City Plan Department to make the memorial a reality.

The public artwork will honor the early 19th-century local engineer, entrepreneur, and Black political leader who freed himself from slavery, built a section of the Farmington Canal, and constructed an extension of Long Wharf that allowed for the local port to rival New York’s.

He was also elected “Black governor” in 1825, helped found what is now Dixwell Congregational Church, owned land and ran businesses on what is now Wooster Square — and, after encountering opposition from white authorities and the business establishment, died in the poorhouse.

The plan is for the statue to be unveiled Sept. 26 at 11 a.m. on a grassy, city-owned plot near the Farmington Canal and Lock Street, in between the Yale Health Center and Yale’s Benjamin Franklin and Pauli Murray Colleges.

According to a presentation by City Plan Director Aïcha Woods during Monday’s Cultural Affairs Commission meeting, the city-commissioned statue will be one part of an “interpretative landscape” and larger memorial along the Farmington Canal that will be “dedicated to the history of William Lanson.”

Read more at the NHIndependent: www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/william_lanson_sculpture

It’s Time to Demand Gender Parity in Our Governance! Demand Equality Now!!

by Frank Rohrig, Octogenarian/Feminist and PAR subscriber

[Frank Rohrig is in the process of forming a 501(c)(3) organization to ensure that in all levels of government, women and men will be represented equally: “complete unequivocal gender equality/parity in the decision-making process in the governance of your community-state-federal government.” He has asked PAR to print his article so that our readers can become familiar with his work and help him with his organizing.]

The time has come to recognize that the evolution of humanity, nations and nation-states require the immediate transformative transition towards Egalitarian virtues and the full and equal participation of women in the governance of all civilized societies for their very future salvation. Our Democracy has been hijacked and pillaged to satisfy the insatiable need for power and greed by a segment of our society that has maliciously disregarded the circle of virtuosity that helped create this nation’s “middle class.”

The mutually-beneficial collaborative efforts by our financial sector and Corporatocracies have ruthlessly over a period of several decades converted a once-proud, growing society into an unequivocal corrupt Plutocracy.

The denial of women by males in every sector and facet of societal involvement shall no longer be a consideration of our forbearance because it has proven to be somewhat chauvinistic and wrong-headed, along with twenty-seven other amendments to the Constitution that required change to comport to more Egalitarian virtues.

In light of the extreme ideological and theocratic movements to reverse the rights long ago fought for and won, including Civil Rights and Women’s Rights, the zealots amongst us continue with their underhanded, discriminatory and unjustified quests to deny others that Egalitarian Society promised within our Constitution at its inception.

The justified essential movement for Gender Parity has never been as important as it is today given the intentions and actions of a growing segment of the male population that won’t be content until the return of a Patriarchal Society that enables them to dictate to others because of their perceived superiority. This kind of thinking isn’t confined to just other distant cultures but remains within the Puritanical thinking of religious zealots amongst us. Nothing less than GENDER PARITY (50% male and 50% female) in the makeup of all taxpayer-funded areas of governance and oversight within the smallest of communities, state houses and U.S. Senate and Congress shall suffice. It shall be through the equally-weighted voices of our females where we can attain a society with greater shared interests beneficial to all our citizenry.

For more information, please call Frank Rohrig at (203) 877-2492. Mail can be sent to 541 Naugatuck Ave., Milford, CT 06460.

Film Archive

17-minute 1945 Hiroshima Nagasaki film footage. From Japanese photographers, hidden at the beginning of the Cold War to avoid criticism of US w crimes. Forewarning: Disturbing.

Progressive Action Roundtable statement on the latest happenings of 2020

Dear PAR Subscribers:

The world has changed quite a bit since our June newsletter. The brutal murder of George Floyd exposed the ugliness of power in the hands of the police and the entrenched racism against people of color. As Black Lives Matter rallies against police brutality were joined with demands for removal of racist and oppressive historic symbols, the Columbus statue in Wooster Square was removed, and the City formed a committee to rename Columbus Academy. Black Lives Matter marches of over a thousand people blocked highways and rallied at police stations. A thousand people marched in West Haven to demand justice for Mubarak Soulemane, who was killed by a state trooper. Many hundreds demanded Yale pay millions of dollars more to New Haven to make up for so much property being tax-exempt because of Yale University and Yale New Haven Hospital. Two “elder rallies” in support of Black Lives Matter were held on the Green for people wanting to make their voices heard while wearing masks and maintaining appropriate distance from others because of coronavirus. Mayor Elicker reiterated that New Haven is a sanctuary for undocumented immigrants. City and town councils of New Haven, Hamden, Hartford, Windsor, West Hartford and Bloomfield declared racism a public health crisis. In addition, our work for peace and justice around the world has not stopped. Plus we are still in the midst of the pandemic! Quite a busy time!

The Progressive Action Roundtable welcomes articles from organizations around these and other issues of concern to our readers, who not only want to know what’s going on, but read about “report backs” and analyses of their various actions.

Please send in articles and calendar events for our next newsletter before Wednesday, Aug. 19 to parnewhaven@hotmail.com.

The struggle continues!

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.

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