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. Today [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).

Towards a New Paradigm of Creative Revolution — Part Two

by Owen Charles, environmental, peace and community activist

[Part One of this article appeared in the October issue of the PAR newsletter. The article in its entirety is available at our website par-newhaven.org]

The clear answer for a monumental transition lies before us… lies in our embracing this, and saying “YES.” Yes, to a new paradigm. Yes, to new ideas, ways of living, ways of helping each other, ways of creating anew.  Yes, to positive action. Yes, to communes–bonding together to create new economies, new healthcare and educational possibilities, new ways of moving forward from where we are now. And in this “new” paradigm there certainly may be echoes of the past… indigenous and ancient ways of basic, communitarian existence in a more balanced harmony with each other and with nature…
You can look at it as saying NO to the toxic culture and capitalism, and war and… BUT it is important not to look at it this way and to instead approach it as SAYING YES.

Yes, first off to each other. We need to unleash ourselves from the paradigm of individualism and that it is a dog-eat-dog world… and instead, embrace that we are all IN THIS TOGETHER. This is one of the first rules used to sublimate us, the rule of “divide and conquer.”

Thus fighting each other is abandoned as a mode of revolution, and in fact, is counter-revolutionary. Let’s continue to look around and find and support those who represent a new paradigm hidden in plain sight all around us!

We say YES to each other in the mode of improvisational group creation… “YES, And” … Your idea AND mine… “BOTH AND” (not Either / Or)… this way we do not tear ourselves apart and tear each other down, but we BUILD TOGETHER new ways, new organizations, new creative revolutions. YES to cooperatives, YES to collectives, YES to unplugging and working, YES to more DOING and less TALKING, YES to CREATING, YES to BIOREGIONAL-ISM, YES to MUNICIPALISM, YES to YES. YES to down-sizing, YES to living more ruggedly with less, YES to helping others to do so (not shaming them), YES to creating ways to communicate independently YES to BEING the CHANGE we want to see. YES to worrying less about fear, division, disagreement, and looming destruction, and YES to focusing more on creative revolution to create the new ways of living that sustain us, save us, inspire us, give us some hope, some unity, and rebuild our interior and human goodness from the first step of the first individual, in a chain that has the potential to be unending, and free us from the chains of our dystopia.

Please reach out to us by joining our Facebook group @shorelinegreenparty or contacting me! Owen Charles at owencharles2003@yahoo.com.

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.

Remembering Lula White

by Joan Cavanagh, former Archivist/Director, Greater New Haven Labor History Association (2001-2017)

Lula White poses with the Thurgood Marshall Award she received in 2016 (file photo)

Lula White poses with the Thurgood Marshall Award she received in 2016 (file)

I was with Lula White at many gatherings in 35 or so years: peace actions to oppose the endless U.S. wars; Sunday night potluck discussions; Labor History Association meetings and events; union protests at Yale; even the occasional holiday party. With Mary Johnson, she often spoke of teaching, organizing and being jailed during the teachers’ strikes in the 1970s. Her story as a youthful freedom rider in the South unfolded more slowly.

When we decided to document the history of workers at New Haven’s Winchester Repeating Arms Company, Lula and her sister, Dorothy White Johnson, both long time members of the Labor History Association Executive Board, contacted former Winchester employees, conducted interviews and borrowed artifacts for the exhibit, “Our Community at Winchester: An Elm City Story.”

After the plant closed in 2006, we transferred the files, artifacts and photographs of the workers’ union, IAM Local 609, to the office I shared with the late Nicholas Aiello, then LHA president. The plan was to inventory and preserve them. As Nick witnessed 65 boxes slowly taking over our space, he became, not unreasonably, upset. We had a heated exchange. Lula arrived just as I left to take a breath. When I returned, Lula was smiling—and so was Nick, who congratulated us for having secured custody of these important historical records. Whatever she said or did, she had, typically, transformed the situation.

At Fairfield University, where the exhibit was displayed in 2017, I introduced Lula after a short history of the project, and began asking questions. The audience, mostly students, soon took over. Lula spoke quietly and without drama about her life as the daughter of a Winchester worker, growing up in the Newhallville section of New Haven, then becoming a teacher of history and union activist. She also shared the terrifying, brave experience of being jailed in Mississippi as a young Black woman, one of hundreds of freedom riders trying to integrate the buses in 1961. In an evaluation of the session, a student wrote that she was “cool.” She had shared her hope for a future based on engaged citizenship at a moment when it was desperately needed, just following the 2017 presidential inauguration.

During my only visit to the Intensive Care Unit where Lula was confined in June, not expected to survive, I whispered to her to “Keep fighting.” It wasn’t necessary. Fight she did. Over the summer, she slowly got better. She almost made it.

Despite Lula White’s inner calm, peace and strength, it cannot have been easy being fully “woke.” May she find the joy and rest she has earned.

Excerpt from the obituary notice of the New Haven Register, Sept. 16, 2019

Ms. White was frequently jailed as a freedom rider trying to desegregate public transportation. In addition, she was arrested for striking to raise salaries for teachers, and jeered for marching to protest injustice. She was recognized by the Quinnipiac University School of Law in 2016, was awarded the Thurgood Marshall Award for her activism and commu-nity service, and was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degree from Albertus Magnus College in 2010. Lula fought the good fight.

Towards a New Paradigm of Creative Revolution — Part One

by Owen Charles, environmental, peace and community activist

We are in a time of great innovation, some say, mostly speaking of computer technology, “AI,” microparticle physics, genetic science, and other man-made detritus.

We are in a time of great crisis, meanwhile, as we soak in a toxic environment and begin to experience looming climate destruction borne of man-made garbage–hydrocarbons, plastics, pesticides, and other technologies.

It is time to recognize that we are in a downward spiral. As a species, we are clearly incapable. That is why it is up to SOME of us to recognize we are in a downward spiral… and do something about it.

No, not come up with some technological solution or grand design that will “save the world” but independent, creative, revolutionary ways of disconnecting from and unplugging from the destructive dystopia around us, so that we may build a new future. Tapping into our own creative revolutions, inviting and engaging, and welcoming those around us.

Is this a revolutionary idea? – YES and NO. YES, in that it is the answer towards upending the Existing Order (Capitalism, carnism, consumerism, etc.) that will likely implode as destructive forces it has unleashed grows in Tsunami fashion and drowns (most of) us all.

NO, in that it is already late to be getting to the party. Revolutionary work has started all around. Not cults of 150-year-old revolutionists or other political goings-on…. But, in the almost anonymous goings-on of growing autonomous movements — Bioregionalism groups, independent local movements of people living off the grid, tiny houses, living in vans & other vehicles, autonomous agricultural innovations, “gig economy” pursuits, bartering and new economies, and in the rise of cooperatives, collectives, and back-to-earth communalism–it is no longer enough to say “No”! In fact, it is counter-productive to spend much time doing this–opposing the facets and faults that in aggregate comprise the Existing Order.

While Bob Marley was right that “Total destruction is the only solution (no one can stop them now),” there will not be a turning point among humans to turn around the destruction of the planet (and each other) through our out-of-control hydrocarbonism, consumerism, and Capitalism… not until after climate destruction has so disrupted our lives that the great majority live in constant struggle to survive amidst the new environment of the planet. We ARE beyond… beyond the point of no return. Thus, we don’t say NO… We don’t say INCREMENTALISM. Thus, we say YES!

The clear answer for a monumental transition lies before us… lies in our embracing this, and saying “YES”.

Yes, to new paradigm.

Yes, to new ideas, ways of living, ways of helping each other, ways of creating anew.

Yes, to positive action.

Yes, to communes- bounding together to create new economies, new healthcare and educational possibilities, new ways of moving forward from where we are now.

And in this “new” paradigm there certainly may be echoes of the past… indigenous and ancient ways of basic, communitarian existence in a more balanced harmony with each other and with nature…

You can look at it as saying NO to the toxic culture and capitalism, and war, and… BUT it is important not to look at it this way and to instead approach it as SAYING YES.

Yes, first off to each other.

We need to unleash ourselves from the paradigm of individualism and that it is a dog-eat-dog world… and instead embrace that we are all IN THIS TOGETHER. This is one of the first rules used to sublimate us, is the rule of “divide and conquer”.

Thus fighting each other is abandoned as a mode of revolution, and in fact is Counter-revolutionary. Let’s continue to look around and find and support those who represent a new paradigm hidden in plain sight all around us!

We say YES to each other in the mode of improvisational group creation… “YES, And” … Your idea AND mine… “BOTH AND” (not Either / Or)… this way we do not tear ourselves apart and tear each other down, but we BUILD TOGETHER new ways, new organizations, new creative revolutions.

YES to cooperatives, YES to collectives, YES to unplugging and working, YES to more DOING and less TALKING, YES to CREATING, YES TO BIOREGIONALISM, YES to MUNICIPALISM, YES to YES to YES to YES to YES.

YES to down-sizing, YES to living more ruggedly with less, YES to helping others to do so (not shaming them), YES to creating ways to communicate independently YES to BEING the CHANGE we want to see. YES to worrying less about fear, division, disagreement, and looming destruction, and YES to focusing more on creative revolution to create the new ways of living that sustain us, save us, inspire us, give us some hope, some unity, and rebuild our interior and human goodness from the first step of the first individual, in a chain that has the potential to be unending, and free us from the chains of our dystopia.

Please reach out to us by joining our Facebook group @shorelinegreenparty or contacting me! Owen Charles at owencharles2003@yahoo.com

Coalition for People Update

We continue to work on healthcare for all, affordable housing, the environment, concerns of unfair energy prices, care for the homeless and residents of sober houses. Our next board meeting is on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2-4 p.m. on the lower level of the Fair Haven Library, 182 Grand Ave. All are welcome to attend.

Annual membership dues for Coalition for People is $5. We would like more people to become members, as well as to consider joining our board. For more information, please call (203) 468-2541 or e-mail coalitionforpeople@hotmail.com.

In the last issue of PAR we notified readers of the passing of our board member Geraldine Poole. At the time of printing we were not able to include a photo. For all who remember Geraldine, we thought you would like to see her once more.

Interfaith Peace Waged in New Haven

Volunteers from multiple interfaith organizations painted a new billboard Thursday that will tower over I-95 right northbound before Exit 45 .

The 50-foot billboard was one of numerous projects completed by over 100 volunteers from across the world who gathered for New Haven Interfaith Service Day.

The effort was led by Rev. Nicholas Porter from Jerusalem Peacebuilders and Bruce Barrett from IWagePeace.org with local clergy members Rabbi Brian Immerman (Congregation Mishkan Israel), Imam Omer Bajwa (Yale Chaplin), Father Stephen Holton (Christ Episcopal Church), and Rev. Bonita Grubbs (Christian Community Action).

Source: Interfaith Peace Waged | New Haven Independent

Coalition for People Updates and Plans for a Medicare for All Workshop

Many PAR readers who were at Coalition for People events through the years have come to know Geraldine Poole. She always greeted everyone and made them feel at home within the group. Geraldine was on the Board of Directors of Coalition for People for many years and passed away on June 19. We miss her smile, encouragement, and enthusiasm for working with as many people as possible for a world of justice and peace. CFP made two donations in Geraldine’s memory: one to the building fund of the new Stetson Library on Dixwell Avenue and the other to the African-American Historical and Cultural Society of the Ethnic Heritage Center. She was a gentle, loving, determined woman who was a true inspiration to all who knew her and worked with her.

At our August board meeting, we discussed having workshops on universal, single-payer, comprehensive healthcare followed by a conference. We recently learned of the group Medicare for All CT and some CFP members attended its conference the previous week. We are looking forward to continuing our networking with them to organize for an effective healthcare policy for everybody: universal, single-payer, comprehensive healthcare. Our next board meeting is on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 3-5 p.m. on the lower level of the Fair Haven Library, 182 Grand Ave. All are welcome to attend.

Annual membership dues for Coalition for People are $5. We not only would like more people to become members but would like members to consider joining our board. For more information, please call (203) 468-2541 or e-mail coalitionforpeople@hotmail.com.

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