Memorial Event Set For George Edwards

Read the full story here in the New Haven Independent

New Haveners will have a chance to share their memories of the late Black Panther and social justice advocate George Edwards at an event set for Saturday, Oct. 29.

Edwards, possibly the most spied-on and messed-with activist in town and an omnipresence at public events, died Sept. 16 at the age of 85. (Read a full story about his life here.)

The memorial event in his honor will take place at the Dixwell Q House on Dixwell Avenue. It is scheduled to run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

His daughter Elizabeth Dickerson asks anyone wishing to speak at the event to contact her in advance at liz_dickerson@sbcglobal.net.

Attendees are also encouraged to bring gently used clothing to the event to be distributed to the needy.

This GoFundMe drive has been established to help pay for funeral costs. Some money will also go toward placing Edwards’ name on a brick at the Q House

Groups March and Rally for Palestine

by Stanley Heller, Middle East Crisis Committee

On Sept. 19, the groups that organized the protest for Palestine last month were joined by students from Wesleyan’s Students for Justice in Palestine.

Again we stood on a corner in the center of Middletown with signs and banners, chanting led by activists with bull horns. We featured signs about the recent Israeli report whitewashing their killing of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and again talked about the massacre of people in early August in Gaza. We also had signs calling for the shaming of both Connecticut Senators and our five members of Congress for their blind support of Israeli apartheid. Two signs had photos of two children who died because Israel would not let them leave Gaza for medical treatment. Judging by the number of honks from passersby our reception was even more friendly than in August.

Photo: Stanley Heller

About 70 of us marched on the sidewalks down to the City Green, displaying the signs and banners and being urged on by chanting led by some very young members of the Omar Islamic Center.

On the Green we had 7 or 8 speakers including Marwan Hameed, a former Iraqi diplomat, and Laura Schliefer of Promoting Enduring Peace. We opened up two banners created ten years ago to commemorate the mass murder of at least 1300 Palestinians and Lebanese in the Sabra and Shatila camps in Lebanon in September 1982. They had been ordered into the camps by Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon, supposedly to look for “terrorists.”

Ms. Schliefer was later interviewed on WPKN’s “Mic Check” for a half-hour. The interviewer was Mike Merli. We need more protests for Palestine like this all around Connecticut.

To see video and photos of the protest, go to thestrugglevideo.org. For more info on how to be involved, email mail@thestruggle.org or call 203-444-3578.

NO New Tridents: The Campaign Against the Columbia Ballistic Missile Submarine

by Stephen Kobasa, NO New Tridents Campaign

Seventy-seven 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 without 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.

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 that 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.

Contacts: Jackie Allen-Doucot, purplehousecw@gmail.com, Stephen Kobasa, stephen.kobasa@gmail.com.

Cuban UN Ambassadors Visit to Connecticut

by Henry Lowendorf, Greater NH Peace Council and Millie Grenough, City of NH Peace Commission

Perhaps the highest level Cuban diplomatic delegation just visited Connecticut since Fidel Castro stopped at New Haven’s Union Station on his way to Boston in 1959. On September 9 and 10, Cuban United Nations Ambassadors Pedro Luis Pedroso and Yuri A. Gala made the extraordinary trip to Connecticut to celebrate the passage of two resolutions by two major city councils that call on the United States to end its illegal 62-year blockade of Cuba.

Photo: Paul Bloom

Their appearance was also the occasion to encourage further such resolutions and various collaborations between Connecticut and Cuba.

“Extraordinary” because the US blockade extends its economic and political war on Cuba to limiting the movement of Cuban diplomats at the UN to a small radius of Manhattan, violating the agreement by the US to honor the right of UN representatives to travel freely. Permission to travel to CT was based on a formal invitation by the CT state legislature, led by Representative Edwin Vargas of Hartford.

The two anti-blockade resolutions were passed respectively by the Court of Common Council of Hartford in 2021 and the New Haven Board of Alders in 2022.

Overall, the Cuban delegation to Connecticut was organized by Wallingford resident, Cuban-American José Oro, a leader of No Embargo Cuba, along with a large coalition of Cuba solidarity and peace activists from around the state. Oro described one glaring effect of the blockade as preventing Cuba from obtaining ventilators from Switzerland to provide life-giving oxygen to seriously ill Covid-19 patients because a small percentage of ventilator parts are manufactured in the US. Despite the blockade, Cuba was able to develop three successful vaccines. The global solidarity movement was called on to provide syringes, another item blocked from Cuba.

The first stop for the delegation was a working breakfast at Quinnipiac University where President Judy Olian welcomed the Ambassadors, who spoke on the priority that Cuba has given to education, the cost of which is fully covered from elementary school through college.

Quinnipiac Professors Mohammad Elahee, Matthew O’Connor and Osman Kilic explored the possibilities for faculty and student exchanges, micro-lending, small-business and sustainable development, and medicine and health.

Following Quinnipiac University the delegation met state and Hartford city legislative leaders and Cuba solidarity activists in the State Capitol, City Hall and the union office of Local 1199.

On Sept. 10 the delegation arrived in Willimantic to meet with state Rep. Susan Johnson, City Council member Emmanuel Pérez, Professor Ricardo Pérez of Eastern CT State University, Black Lives Matter leader James Flores, and leaders of the Willimantic Rainbow Connection, Power UP-Coventry and Veterans for Peace. Subsequent actions are planned to develop a sister city relationship and to pass a no-blockade resolution by the Willimantic City Council. Middletown and Hamden are exploring similar resolutions.

On Saturday afternoon the New Haven Free Public Library welcomed the Ambassadors who spoke and answered questions from a large audience. José Oro [aforementioned organizer and Wallingford resident] announced a new effort to reverse the cruel and false US listing of Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism.

At a farewell gathering, Joelle Fishman, Acting Chair of the City of New Haven Peace Commission, presented gifts from New Haven to the Ambassadors. Al Marder and Henry Lowendorf from the Peace Council, and John Lugo from Unidad Latina en Acción expressed gratitude to the Ambassadors for strengthening the human connection with New Haven and Connecticut. Jesus Puerto, owner of Soul de Cuba Café provided delicious Cuban dishes to nurture the relationship.

 

George Edwards, Black Panther and Lifelong Revolutionary July 31, 1937-Sept. 16, 2022

Our deepest condolences to the family and friends of George Edwards, an extraordinary and compassionate activist. Many, if not most, of PAR’s readers, worked with him on justice and community issues in New Haven. In almost six decades, we have no doubt he touched the lives of tens of thousands of New Haven residents, activists and Yale students. “The students are here for only four years and then they go all over the world. I’m going to train them to be activists while I have this chance.” He was a mentor to many and held steadfast to the principles of the original Black Panthers. In addition to his work in the Black Panther Party, he played a core role in New Haven’s struggle against apartheid in South Africa, organized many annual May Day celebrations on the New Haven Green, spoke out and organized against police brutality, was a supporter of Palestinian rights, demonstrated against the various wars, bombings and invasions the U.S. carried out — Panama, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Afghanistan, etc., demanded the release of Leonard Peltier, Mumia Abu-Jamal and all other U.S. political prisoners, had a weekly show on CTV where he introduced viewers to activism, history and the current events of the day and taught them how to analyze, protested against nuclear power, was an AIDS-prevention activist and worked at the New Haven Needle Exchange Project, and when the pandemic began, he gave out masks, condoms, water bottles and gloves to people from his front porch. This is a brief description of the work he did and the causes he took on.

A Panther Passes On

by Paul Bass, New Haven Independent, Sept. 21, 2022

The state tried to frame George Edwards and lock him up for life. His fellow revolutionaries tortured him and tried to kill him. They didn’t know whom they were messing with.

He survived — and kept at his Black Panther mission for another half century long after generations of fellow fighters left the theater.

George Edwards at a 2016 Hip-Hop Conference. Photo David Yaffe-Bellany

It was kidney cancer that finally claimed the life of George Edwards. He died late last Friday in Connecticut Hospice at the age of 85. Until his final months, he remained one of New Haven’s most visible and engaging voices, challenging power and supporting grassroots social justice crusades.

Perhaps the most spied-on and messed-with political activist in New Haven history, he combined theatrical training with an unshatterable suspicion of government power to speak out wherever people gathered: on city buses, at library gatherings, at outdoor protests. You may or may not have agreed with his assertions about imperial power, CIA connections to Yale, black helicopters or the moon landing. It was impossible not to listen. Or to appreciate the man speaking.

Edwards also possessed a gentleness and kindness that endeared him to people whether or not they shared his intense convictions.

“He lived a full life,” said his daughter, Elizabeth Dickerson, who had a Sunday pancake breakfast date with her dad at the Hamden IHOP in his later years. …

Edwards grew up in Goldsboro, N.C., where he engaged in his first protests with fellow high school students demanding that officials comply with the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board desegregation ruling.

He worked on B52 bombers as an engineer for the U.S Air Force from 1955 through 1961, when he was ceremoniously removed for his role in antimilitarism protests. He later said a recording of a speech by Malcolm X had made him question his service to the United States: ​“I had a serious confrontation with history, politics, racism. I was becoming conscious of the world. This man had shown a light to the darkness of my brain.”

Yale School of Drama brought Edwards to New Haven, where he became a stalwart performer in the local Black Arts Movement. When the national Black Panthers opened a chapter here in 1968, Edwards was one of its first members. Local cops and the FBI under its deadly COINTEL-PRO spying-and-disruption initiative were already keeping tabs on him. He appeared on the FBI ​“Agitator Index’ and ​“Rabble Rouser Index.” His FBI file #124 – 310G would expand to 1,000 pages. It revealed how, if Edwards went to the store for a quart of milk, an agent made sure to follow.

[Article can be read in its entirety, with videos at www.newhavenindependent.org/article/panther_passes_on.

See also 1992 NYT interview at https://www.nytimes.com/1992/11/22/nyregion/once-a-black-panther-always-a-cause.htm]

In Memoriam: Hazel Williams, Newhallville Organizer. Oct. 18, 1944-Aug. 27, 2022

Hazel Williams, a native of Brunswick, Georgia, moved to New Haven in 1968. She was a top-notch organizer in the Newhallville community, and deeply concerned about helping the well-being of all. Our sympathy to her family, her friends, and to everyone whose lives she touched.

The following excerpts are from the New Haven Register article of Sept. 3, written by Mark Zaretsky. Read the entire article at https://www.nhregister.com/news/article/New-Haven-s-Hazel-Williams-recalled-as-17416113.php.

Hazel V. Williams

Hazel V. Williams, founder of Newhallville’s Pond Street Block Watch, was a passionate advocate for neighbors taking responsibility for their neighborhoods, a gardener extraordinaire and — not to be minimized — master of all things baking and dessert-like.

“She was a fierce advocate for people in the community standing up and taking ownership of their block,” and was adamant “that people should participate” in the political process, said Barbara Vereen, the city’s 20th Ward Democratic Committee co-chairwoman.

“We have a lot of people who stand up and talk about it,” Vereen said. But Williams “actually did the work. She told you like it is. She did not hold back,” but she always gave advice “in a caring, loving way.”

“‘Fierce’ is the first word that comes to mind when I think of my dear friend Hazel,” who could be a “mom, aunt, sister all rolled up in one,” said friend Letitia Charles. “To me, Hazel embodied a Sister Warrior and Mother Earth!”

Williams and the block watch also collaborated with the Yale School of Forestry and the Black Student Alliance at Yale to plant daffodils throughout the neighborhood.

The work they did together helped reduce crime in the Pond Street neighborhood, located on the Newhallville-Hamden line, to zero for 26 straight years. The success of the Pond Street Block Watch was one of the cornerstones of the city’s presentation when New Haven won the national All-America City designation in a competition in Mobile, Ala., in June 1998.

Read the entire article at https://www.nhregister.com/news/article/New-Haven-s-Hazel-Williams-recalled-as-17416113.php.

 

In Memoriam: Semi Semi-Dikoko, ‘The Mayor of Westville,’ July 27, 1953-Sept. 8, 2022

by Lucy Gellman, Arts Council of Greater New Haven, Arts Paper

Semi Semi-Dikoko was born in Congo, worked in many countries and moved to New Haven in 1991. Our condolences to his family and to his large community of friends. He was an artist, a computer analyst with IBM, played flute and trombone, lived in Brussels, Belgium, and Bremen, Germany. In addition to English, he spoke German, French, Japanese, Bantu, and Swahili. He was president of the Friends of Edgewood Park, and he had a pilot’s license. He was friendly, warm and engaging, and had a wide and deep presence in New Haven, especially in Westville.

The following excerpts are from the article Lucy Gellman wrote for the Sept. 14, 2022 Arts Paper. You can read it in its entirety at www.newhavenarts.org/arts-paper/articles/the-mayor-of-westville-new-haven-mourns-remembers-semi-semi-dikoko.

Semi Semi-Dikoko, a tireless advocate for the arts who blessed New Haven with three decades of a gentle and gen-erous spirit, died at Smilow Cancer Hospital. The cause was prostate cancer, which Semi-Dikoko had been fighting bravely and often quietly for four years. In the past decade, he also battled lymphoma, which was until recently in remission. He was 69 years old.

Semi Semi-Dikoko with David Sepulveda and Aleta Staton at the Arts Awards in December 2012. Photo: Judy Sirota Rosenthal. Photo used with permission from the photographer.

“Semi just touched so many lives,” said his friend and studio mate David Sepulveda. The two, who shared a studio at West River Arts, were so close they often seemed like two halves of the same, vibrantly beating heart.

He was trained as a systems architect and consultant, who worked for IBM, Fujitsu Americas, Deutsche Bank, NASA, and Southern New England Telecommunications (SNET) among others. He was a dedicated public servant, whose thousands of volunteer hours spanned Friends of Edgewood Park to Artspace New Haven to the Westville Village Renaissance Alliance. For most of his friends, he was Semi, a warm and constant presence who always had time for the people in his life.

“His art was human connectivity,” said Aaron Goode, who met him over a decade ago when the two enrolled in the city’s first Democracy School class. “That was his medium. He was a painter of civic canvases. Westville, that was one of his canvases, but so was New Haven and so was New York.”

Connecticut Green Energy News

Number 288, Sept. 16, 2022

News and events for advocates of clean energy, energy efficiency, and climate action at the state and local levels, focusing on Connecticut. Brought to you by People’s Action for Clean Energy (PACE) and Eastern CT Green Action (ECGA). To subscribe, email peter.millman7@gmail.com.

Connecticut wins $52 million in federal backing for electric vehicle build-out along state’s highways
Hartford Courant: ​Connecticut has won federal approval, and $52 million over five years, to build out electric vehicle chargers across the state.​ ​Funding is part of $900 million authorized by the sprawling federal Infrastructure Law signed last year by President Joe Biden to install 500,000 chargers at regular intervals across 53,000 miles of U.S. highways. In Connecticut, 10 locations are planned for at least four public fast chargers with a minimum power level of 150 kilowatts per port along the interstate system.​ The state Department of Transportation expects…to partner with the private sector that owns or operates electric vehicle charging network sites.

Why electricity prices are rising unevenly across New England
Connecticut Public: You may have noticed that your most recent electric bill is higher than usual — and if that change hasn’t happened yet, it’s probably coming this fall. These price spikes are occurring across New England, but bills are rising more in some places than others. Some ratepayers in New Hampshire saw the price of electricity double this summer, resulting in bills up to $70 higher, while many in Massachusetts are only paying an extra $11 per month. If it seems unfair, blame the energy markets. And if it’s confusing because everyone in New England shares an electricity grid, well, read on…The primary reason for the spike is our reliance on fossil fuels. Specifically, natural gas…This year’s price fluctuations have exposed the volatility of fossil fuels, but many experts say things could be different in the future as we “electrify everything” and source more of our power from renewables.

Boston moves to ban fossil fuels in new construction
GBH: The Boston City Council Wednesday voted to sign up for the state’s new pilot program banning fossil fuels from most new construction except labs and hospitals.​ ​The move is the first step in a process that could ultimately make New England’s largest city part of an innovative experiment — that is controversial in some quarters — designed to help mitigate climate change.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day Wednesday, Oct. 12, 5-7 p.m.

Unidad Latina en Acción is organizing a ceremony and protest for Indigenous Peoples’ Day of Resistance on Wednesday, Oct. 12, from 5-7 p.m. on the New Haven Green. For more information, please go to the website ulanewhaven.org or facebook.com/ULANewHaven.

In previous years there were also events the second Monday in October. Please check the internet for local Indigenous Peoples’ Day events for Monday, Oct. 10.

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