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

Kings Bay Plowshares 7 – Update on Sentencing Dates Sept. 3 and 4

Seven Catholic plowshares activists entered Kings Bay Naval [nuclear] Submarine Base in St. Mary’s, Georgia on April 4, 2018. They went to make real the prophet Isaiah’s command to “beat swords into plowshares.”

The seven chose to act on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who devoted his life to addressing what he called the “triple evils of militarism, racism, and materialism.” Carrying hammers and baby bottles of their own blood, the seven attempted to convert weapons of mass destruction.  They hoped to call attention to the ways in which nuclear weapons kill every day, by their mere existence and maintenance.

Liz McAlister was sentenced by video conferencing with the court on June 8, 2020. She was sentenced to time served, 3 years of supervised probation and a portion of the $33,000 restitution.

On September 3, Carmen Trotta is scheduled for sentencing at 9 a.m., Steve Kelly at 1 p.m., and Clare Grady at 4 p.m. On September 4, Mark Colville at 9 a.m., Patrick O’Neill at 1 p.m. and Martha Hennessy at 4 p.m. These dates may yet again be pushed back depending on the course of the virus. The defendants prefer to be sentenced in person in open court with family and supporters present as is their right. It is not sure when it will be safe for all parties to be present.

For more information on this and other actions against nuclear weapons, visit https://kingsbayplowshares7.org.

New Haven Peace Vigil Continues Every Sunday, Noon-1 p.m.

by Joan Cavanagh, New Haven Sunday Vigil

The New Haven Sunday Vigil, ongoing since 1999, began again on July 5 after a four-month hiatus due to the COVID-19 shutdown. We’ll keep going every Sunday for as long as possible under the current circumstances and invite you to join us. The war continues on every front. So must the resistance! Below are excerpts from our August flyer:
WHY WE’RE STILL STANDING OUT HERE IN 2020– IN THE MIDDLE OF A PANDEMIC

The amount the [current National Defense Authorization Act] would allocate to the military is more than half the total federal spending budget for FY 2021. $22.3 billion alone is provided for nine new navy ships–the Columbia class submarines to be built at Electric Boat in Groton to replace the current Tridents. (1) At a time when the state of Connecticut faces a $2.3 billion budget deficit and contemplates drastic cuts to social services in 2021, the entire Connecticut congressional delegation voted for this funding.

Overall, a huge proportion of the military budget goes to the “modernization” of the U.S. nuclear arsenal–that is, the replacement of its every component with something “brand new.” This 30-year “upgrade” is projected to cost $1.7 trillion in total.(2)

A terrible legacy: weapons of mass destruction

75 years ago, on Aug. 6 and Aug. 9, 1945, the United States ushered in the nuclear age with its use of the atomic bomb against civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, destroying those cities and killing approximately 120,000 (by a conservative estimate) of their inhabitants, with repercussions from the results of radiation sickness that persist even to this day. The nuclear arms race that followed and threatened all life in the second half of the 20th century has caused ongoing destruction and deprivation and did not end with the end of the Cold War.

The U.S. and Russia today possess an estimated 12,600 nuclear weapons combined, other nuclear nations a much smaller arsenal. U.S. policy embraces first-use of nuclear weapons if the government deems it necessary in order to advance its strategic global interests. Pentagon planners have long pursued the ability to fight a “limited nuclear war,” a contradiction in terms. Our government has never signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It appears likely that the Trump administration, if re-elected, will not even renew S.T.A.R.T. II (the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) signed by the United States and Russia.

Trump has openly threatened the use of nuclear weapons against other countries. In January of this year, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists set its Doomsday Clock at 100 seconds to midnight–closer than it has been since the height of the Cold War.

In addition to the existential threat posed by their very nature, the continued mining, testing, production and deployment of nuclear weapons over the last 75 years has caused environmental destruction, the desecration of native lands, and the theft of our tax dollars from health care, disease prevention, housing, education, and infrastructure, all the things we need to live in a just, functional society. We cannot accept or tolerate this any longer.

Since 1999, the New Haven Sunday Vigil has been held here every week from 12-1 p.m. at Broadway, Park and Elm Streets in New Haven, CT, to emphatically say NO to the state of permanent, ongoing war against the world being waged by our government and its allies, a war which is terrorizing the planet and destroying lives in order to consolidate enormous power and wealth in the hands of a very few people.

1 and 2 https://atthebrink.org/podcast/modernizing-doomsday-the-true-cost-of-our-nuclear-arsenal/

Alternative News Site for West Haven Forms

Stanley Heller, activist, West Haven resident

Faced with stony-hearted politicians and police in West Haven and virtually no coverage in the local free paper of the killing of Mubarak Soulemane in January or the July 5 use of police dogs on protesters, I decided to start a West Haven news site, The West Haven Call. Right now the modest sections are Justice, Climate, Schools, UNH, Health, Photos, Feeds, Instagram, Riseup, Jigsaws, and Memes. The site is found at https://westhavencall.com. We tweet @WestHavenC.

I’m looking for volunteers to help out with the site.  Reach me at westhavencall@gmail.com.  We’re a news site that salutes the Black Lives Matter Uprising and calls for an end to white supremacy and a world ruled by greed and climate destruction.

NO New Tridents: Announcing a Campaign Against the Columbia Ballistic Missile Submarine

by Stephen Kobasa, NO New Tridents

Seventy-five years after the horrors visited upon Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the first use of nuclear weapons, the United States continues to construct new threats to all creation.

Machines age, and grow useless. The Trident ballistic missile submarines are no exception. First put into service in 1981, they are approaching the end of their expected operational life. But instead of allowing them to simply pass into obsolescence and remove the threat which they pose to all creation, our government is undertaking to replace them with a new weapon to assure that the threat continues with-out intermission. The Columbia class of submarines has been described as the Navy’s top priority program, which will be funded even if that comes at the expense of other Navy programs. Each sub will carry sixteen missile tubes, eight fewer than the current Ohio-class Tridents, but will also have updated propulsion and stealth capabilities which will magnify their threat. They will initially carry the existing Trident II D-5 missile, but designs for both a new missile and warhead are now underway.

Plans are for the production of twelve boats at a projected cost that is presently estimated at $103 to $109 billion. Initial construction has already begun at Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia, with final assembly to take place at Electric Boat in Groton, CT, beginning this year, ahead of schedule. A new facility for that exclusive purpose is now being built in the Groton shipyard.

Why Russia and China Should Fear America's New Columbia ...At a time when the consequences of global warming and pandemic are being experienced in the lives of all humanity on a daily basis, we condemn the reckless and immoral commitment of human creativity and treasure to these weapons which threaten to erase all creation, and by their mere existence deny fundamental rights to human freedom and community. It is obviously clear that they would constitute a crime against both humanity and the environment.

The NO New Tridents campaign proposes to undertake programs of public education, lobbying and nonviolent civil disobedience calling for the immediate abandonment of the Columbia submarine, and the diversion of funds set aside for its construction to policies which will realize the rights of all the world’s people to healthcare, housing, education, income equity and racial justice.

The Norfolk Catholic Worker will be the primary organizer around the Newport News Shipyard, while the Hartford Catholic Worker will coordinate the witness at Electric Boat. For further information, contact: stephen.kobasa@gmail.com.

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

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!

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

Plowshares 7 Need Your Help As They Face Sentencing

Urgent: Please Write Letters To These Judges Now.

As the coronavirus kills and terrifies prisoners around the world, the Kings Bay 7 anti-nuclear protesters and two drone war whistleblowers – Brandon Bryant and Daniel Everett Hale – are facing prison time.

These pending court actions can be seen as marking a moment in history when anti-drone war protesters join anti-nuclear war protesters in the group of Americans who remain inspired to actively oppose the creation and use of, particularly heinous weapons in the face of the wide acceptance of these weapons by the American public. Here is a summary of the status of the cases, and we urge you to write immediately to the judges on behalf of the Kings Bay 7 and Brandon Bryant.

Please click to read more about who to write to: Plowshares 7 Need Your Help As They Face Sentencing – PopularResistance.Org

21-year New Haven Sunday Vigil Paused Until Further Notice Due to Covid-19

Ponder this: in a crisis of this magnitude, there aren’t close to enough ventilators and
other medical supplies including personal protective equipment to go around. The federal
government and the hospitals are talking about rationing health care. As always, the
elderly, poor, disabled and otherwise vulnerable are the ones whose lives will be
sacrificed first.

Yet the military manufacturers remain open, grinding away at the production of weapons
of mass destruction.

If this disturbs you, do something about it. Among other things, let your senators and
representatives know that they will not be re-elected unless they act now to ensure
production and distribution of all necessary equipment to save everyone’s life that
can be saved.

The government must act immediately:

  1. USE THE DEFENSE PRODUCTION ACT TO MOBILIZE AMERICAN
    MANUFACTURERS TO SWITCH TO MAKING MEDICAL EQUIPMENT.
    2. USE THE DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY TO HELP COORDINATE
    EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION OF THESE SUPPLIES AND A MASS ROLL-OUT
    OF COVID-19 TESTING.

PLEASE, SPEAK OUT NOW. Call: U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy: (860) 549-8463;
Sen. Richard Blumenthal: (800) 334-5341; U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro: (203) 562-3718
TWO WAYS TO CONTACT THE PRESIDENT Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
White House Switchboard: (202) 456-1414; For email: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact
Always leave your name, address and phone number.
ALL OUR LIVES DEPEND ON THIS.
CONTINUE TO PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCING. THINK AND ACT FOR
THE COMMUNITY.
Stay strong. We hope to see you soon.
RESIST THIS ENDLESS WAR
The New Haven Sunday Vigilers
March 2020
https://newhavensundayvigil.wordpress.com

Resources and Information from SURJ

Stand Up for Racial Justice put together the following. If you want to receive the SURJ newsletters on a regular basis, please e-mail surjnewhaven@gmail.com.

This is a special issue with links to community response and mutual aid resources, webpages and groups.

Hope you’re doing well – stay safe!

We want to share regional resources for mutual aid, support for those who are the most affected on the basis of health but also by the economic impacts of the spreading disease.

Donate to a food bank! Don’t stockpile groceries! When everyone only takes what they need, there’s enough for everyone!

Think of supporting your local businesses by buying a gift-card or a voucher that you can use in the future. Put a dollar in a jar if you’re having a drink at home and send the money to your favorite bartenders or donate to an emergency fund!

Regional Groups and Support Networks:
Mutual Aid/Support Waterbury, Bridgeport, New Haven and Surrounding Areas
https://www.facebook.com/groups/501197987165893/?fref=nf
document for sharing resources:
http://bit.ly/2Wg2pvc

New Haven Area Mutual Aid
https://www.facebook.com/groups/639466263512268

CoronaVirus CT Community Support / Apoyo Comunitario – link

Handbooks:
Internet Book of Critical Care (IBCC)
https://emcrit.org/ibcc/covid19/

Corornavirus Tech Handbook
https://coronavirustechhandbook.com/

Coronavirus Community Care Resource Guide
https://www.ctznwell.org/coronavirus-care-guide

Mutual Aid Disaster Relief – When Every Community is Ground Zero: Pulling Each Other Through a Pandemic

Things To Do (at home for free!)
Collection of free resources – link
Time magazine and National Geographic for kids
Museums offering virtual tours
Free films from Indigenous film makers
Storytime for children

Fundraisers and Solidarity Campaigns:

Solidarity with Incarcerated People:

SURVIVING INSIDE: commissary payments for incarcerated people

http://www.ctbailfund.org/surviving-inside
https://www.facebook.com/donate/1003206333413384/639728416819386/

Urgent Action Needed to Protect Individuals in Connecticut’s Prisons and Jails from Coronavirus-19 Pandemic

The Coronavirus Could Spark a Humanitarian Disaster in Jails and Prisons

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Response & Resources from The Justice Collaborative

Homelessness:
‘Stay home?’ 500,000 homeless Americans can’t follow coronavirus advice

Perspective from disabled folks

National Fund for bartenders
https://usbgfoundation.networkforgood.com/projects/95524-covid-19-relief-campaign

Fund for musicians impacted by Covid-19 shutdowns:
https://www.sweetrelief.org/covid-19-fund.html

Online Meetings:

ACTIVIST SONGBOOK audition process is now entirely online. (March 14th & 28th library auditions are canceled) You can submit video or audio of you performing a song or rap here
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeNspw3HnYruXaOi7fFcIlvlsYedwHoV4U69WyhZw9_5g-ceg/viewform

Sat Mar 28th 1pm The Annual Meeting of Promoting Enduring Peace (PEP)
More Details coming at www.PEPeace.org
Including Exclusive Video of Naomi Klein’s Lecture at Harvard AND we will announce the winner or winners of the 2020 Gandhi Peace Award

Opportunities to Get More Involved

To hear about more opportunities, join the SURJ New Haven General Body Google Group. We use this group to let members know about last-minute events and actions, as well as to coordinate SURJ’s presence at actions. Go to groups.google.com, search for our google group, and click “join.”

Another way that SURJ members can get more involved is by volunteering with our committees and working groups to organize and facilitate events. These groups often meet outside of general body meetings. If you see a project you might be interested in, email surjnewhaven@gmail.com to get connected with the co-chairs.

Recommended Media of the Week:
Tiny Pricks Project
the material record of Trump’s presidency
LINK
by Diana Weymar


SURJ is a national network of groups and individuals organizing White people for racial justice. Through community organizing, mobilizing, and education, SURJ moves White people to act as part of a multi-racial majority for justice with passion and accountability. We work to connect people across the country while supporting and collaborating with local and national racial justice organizing efforts. SURJ provides a space to build relationships, skills and political analysis to act for change. Join us!

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.

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.

Why We’re Still Standing Out Here in 2019 (and Will Be Again in 2020)

Sunday Vigil flyer, Dec. 22, 2019

This vigil for peace and justice has been observed every Sunday from noon until 1 p.m. since May of 1999. Twenty years and four U.S. presidential administrations later, we are still here.

Often people ask us what we mean when we say, “RESIST THIS ENDLESS WAR.” What we mean is that the serial wars fought by the U.S. and its allies are one war being waged on many fronts. Men, women, and children are being slaughtered, maimed, traumatized and driven from their homes all over the world so that immense wealth and power can be concentrated in the hands of a very few people.
The weapons of this war are many. Here are just some examples: continued development and production of an ever more deadly nuclear arsenal; drone attacks against human beings many thousands of miles away (targets whose bodies the bombardiers, operating their weapons by remote control, will never have to see); mass incarcerations and deportations of immigrants and refugees (condemning them, in many cases, to a future of torture or death); the systematic dismantling of infrastructure and social programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security that most of us not only depend upon but have funded with our hard-earned tax dollars all our lives; the destruction of our environment; and the undermining of workers’ rights and the refusal to pass a national minimum wage that is a living wage.

In 2016, we had a presidential election in which the issues of war, peace and economic justice were never seriously addressed. The state of endless war was accepted as the norm. Now we are dealing with an administration that, during its nearly three years in power, has exponentially escalated on all fronts this war that we have been describing and resisting for two decades and more. The 2018 “mid-term” elections largely ignored these issues.

With its bloated military budget, its blatantly racist and xenophobic rhetoric and policies, its utter disregard for the U.S. Constitution and international law, its attempt to roll back even the modest attempts at addressing the climate crisis that are embraced by the Paris Agreement, its utter disregard for human rights at the borders, and its unapologetic war against poor, working-class and non-white people on behalf of the billionaire class it represents, the Trump ad-ministration has made transparent the existential threat of the 1% to all our lives and to the future of our planet.

RESIST THIS ENDLESS WAR

As this year draws to a close and a new one begins, and as we enter another election cycle, we ask you to think about the issues this vigil has been trying to address in a very modest way over the past 20 years. The war we now face on all fronts transcends partisan politics, and we didn’t get here merely as the result of one terrible election. Simply voting, while important, will not resolve this existential crisis or lead us to a just, peaceful and healthy world. Only a truly engaged citizenry, able and willing to think critically and to use every nonviolent tactic we can muster, will be able to make the serious, deep, systemic changes that are so very long overdue, changes upon which our very survival depends.
We invite you to join the conversation any Sunday, here at Broadway, Park and Elm Streets in New Haven, noon to 1 p.m. http://newhavensundayvigil.wordpress.com.

Nuclear Weapons and Democracy — Do they co-exist?

by Marge Van Cleef, former New Haven resident and member of CT Peace Coalition. In Philadelphia, she organizes a monthly Death Walk Against Drones, participates in the Brandywine Peace Community and WILPF. This article first appeared in the monthly Catholic Peace Fellowship newsletter.

We continue to call ourselves a democracy, “rule by the people.” A monarchy means “rule by one,” a state or nation in which the supreme power is actually or nominally lodged in a monarch. Monarchy has existed since the earliest history of humankind and was often established during periods of external threat or internal crisis because it provided a more efficient focus of power than a democracy, which tended to diffuse power. Apparently, the U.S. considers its possession of nuclear weapons justification for one-person rule, that of the President.

Elaine Scarry, Harvard Univ., has written a book entitled “Thermonuclear Monarchy” (2014) based on her extensive research into U.S. nuclear weapons and who decides when and how they are used. The facts are alarming. She has undertaken a serious study of the U.S. Constitution and what it says about who can declare war. She provides many examples of the situations in which U.S. Presidents, since WW 2, have been the sole decision-makers regarding going to war and possibly using nuclear weapons.

In August 1945 Pres. Truman himself made the decision to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the first time nuclear bombs were dropped on a population, without any warning. This first use of nuclear weapons caused the death and permanent radiation illnesses for hundreds of thousands of civilians. That decision changed our country and the world. It was mass extermination, and there’s been no apology from any U.S. President in office since 1945.

On July 25, after receiving Stalin’s pledge to join the U.S. in the war against Japan in the Pacific, Truman casually informed the Soviet leader that the United States had a new weapon of unusual destructive force. Although Stalin did not appear to be impressed by the news, Truman hoped the information would increase the pressure on Stalin to concede to the Allies’ demands regarding the post-war agreements. But Stalin asked Truman to turn the bomb over to the UN and put it under international control. Truman refused to surrender US control so Stalin went and got his own bomb. And the arms race was on.

But there is useful background information to this story –

The United States had successfully tested the world’s first atomic weapon near Alamogordo, New Mexico, on July 16, 1945. Truman received the news while in Potsdam, Germany, conferring with Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin on post-World War II policy in Europe. On July 17, Truman told Churchill of the test’s success and the two agreed to put off telling Stalin about what Truman called the dynamite news until later–Truman first wanted to get Stalin to agree to enter the Pacific war on the Allies’ side with no strings on it. To that end, the Soviet Union maintained an active espionage program to follow the military activity of the country’s rivals. Through these channels, Stalin became aware of the Manhattan Project’s existence before future President Harry Truman. The first Soviet bomb was completed in 1949.

While U.S. Presidents have clearly pondered their decisions to declare war, including the use of nuclear weapons, some of their personal statements are alarming and indicative of their cynicism and distance from the outcomes, even if nuclear weapons were used. Pres. George H. Bush, “I’m the commander—see, I don’t need to explain why I say things. That’s the interesting thing about being president.” (Bob Woodward 2002)

This is not how the Constitution was intended to be interpreted, but how it has been ignored or “misinterpreted” in the case of declaration of war. In fact, every war since WW2 has been declared by a U.S. President acting alone. Yet the Constitution states that Congress alone has that right.

Scarry includes remarkable facts on the weapons and carriers in the U.S. arsenal, and frightening quotes by former Presidents Eisenhower, Bush, Kennedy, Nixon, et al regarding their power to make decisions to go to war, even deploying nuclear weapons.

In 2019-20, Pres. Trump could make the decision to use nuclear weapons without consulting Congress. Yes, in 2019 with Pres. Trump’s personality defects, his politics, and lack of interest in who might die, who he personally wants to kill, or what happens to the climate, we are facing a very dangerous period for any one person or President, to possibly make the decision to use nuclear weapons.

The last time Congress made the decision to declare war was against Japan on Dec. 8, 1941. Since then, the United States has only issued five other war declarations: against Germany and Italy (on December 11, 1941) and against Bulgaria, Hungary and Rumania (on June 4, 1942). Countries that have nuclear weapons include, China, India, Pakistan, UK, France, No. Korea, U.S., Russia, Israel (not declared). Whether they are called democracies or something else, it is likely that their leaders will make solo decisions on the use of nuclear weapons.

U.S. military drones are used at the will of the President in consultation with the CIA so that they are not included in a state of undeclared war. The people targeted by a drone commander receive no warning and thousands of civilians have been killed by U.S. drones. Those in the U.S. military who control the drones and decide on targets, sit at computers thousands of miles away. They suffer the psychological damage of being the deciders. Ralph Nader recently said, “… you [can’t] keep allowing presidents to run away with illegal presidential power, decide they can send drones, armed drones, special forces anywhere, killing anybody in the world, becoming in the White House their own prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner… ”(2019).

And yet the U.S. will continue to build new and more powerful weapons, i.e. 12 new Ohio-class Trident submarines, each armed with 16 nuclear-armed D5 missiles with the explosive power equivalent to 1,825 Hiroshimas. The total cost of building 12 new Tridents will be $100.2 billion dollars. Who decides to build them? The defense industry and the Pentagon. Again, not a specific decision of Congress, though they approve the defense budget, and they will not decide when and where Trident missiles will be fired. THE TRIDENT STORY today…..

In Brunswick, GA on October 24th, the King’s Bay Plowshares 7 were found guilty on four counts in a jury trial. They committed acts of civil disobedience in attempting to symbolically dismantle a Trident submarine, of which there are six stationed at Kings Bay Naval Station in GA. They could be sentenced to 20 years in prison. They sacrificed their freedom to bring to our attention the destructive power of a nuclear-armed Trident submarine, the most powerful weapon on the planet, and in the U.S. arsenal. The nuclear missiles from one Trident submarine could obliterate any nation on earth. Each missile can travel 1370 miles in 15 minutes.

What would a democratic decision look like for the U.S., militarily the most heavily armed country on the planet? What would a vote to say that for our survival, we must resist starting more wars, and not settle for “never-ending” wars. Whether or not we call our system a “monarchy” it functions like one, to our peril, particularly in regards to warmaking and the control of nuclear weapons.

The UN will be holding meetings in 2020 to reconsider the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which entails a major decision for nations holding weapons and those who might be targeted by them. Pres. Trump has threatened to withdraw from the Treaty. Presently, there is no official Supreme Court ruling on whether the President has the power to break a treaty without the approval of Congress. The courts declined to interfere when President George W. Bush unilaterally withdrew the United States from the ABM Treaty in 2002.

In summation, we must pay attention to decisions to go to war made by U.S. Presidents without the officially required approval of Congress, as stated in the Constitution. Otherwise we are living in a “monarchy”, one-person rule.

At the risk of being naive, I recall this song and I think of “the people” deciding on war including, nuclear attacks… “Last night I had the strangest dream….I dreamed the world had all agreed to put an end to war……And the people in the streets below were dancing round & round while swords and guns and uniforms were scattered on the ground.” ~ Ed McCurdy, 1950

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