Groups Ask Rep. DeLauro to Withdraw Aid for Police Brutality in Colombia

by Megan Fountain, Unidad Latina en Acción 

On May 10, the Colombian community and organizations Unidad Latina en Acción (ULA), Colombian Action CT, and Black and Brown United in Action visited the offices of Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro to deliver a letter asking her to stop military aid in the wake of 39 killings of civilians by Colombian forces.

Since April 28, Colombians have been on strike after the government announced tax reform that would raise the cost of living of the middle class and poorest sectors who were already devastated by the COVID crisis. Four days into the protests, the government withdrew the reform. However, the protests continued since the demands were much more: mass vaccination, economic aid to the poorest, demilitarization of the country, and dismantling of riot police forces.

In ten days of protest, human rights organizations have documented 49 protesters killed, 37 of them by state forces; 548 disappeared; 963 people arbitrarily detained; 12 victims of sexual violence by state forces; and 278 wounded, including 28 shot in the eyes, by Colombian forces.

The weapons, tanks, and training come from the United States, paid for by U.S. taxpayers. Colombia is one of the top 10 recipients of U.S. military aid, following countries including Afghanistan, Israel, and Iraq.

Connecticut residents asked Rosa DeLauro to raise her voice and join with her colleague, James P. McGovern (MA-02), who said, “I am deeply disturbed by the brutal Colombian National Police (PNC) response to peaceful protests over the weekend. This is part of a disturbing pattern of excessive use of force, killings and human rights violations against protestors in Nov. 2019, Sept. 2020 and April-May 2021… Peaceful protest and freedom of expression must be respected everywhere. U.S. aid to the PNC needs strong human rights protections and conditions. We should apply Leahy Law. No U.S. aid to Colombian riot control police that engage in gross human rights violations.”

“We hope that our congresswoman will use her influence and help us recruit more colleagues here in the state of Connecticut,” said John Lugo of ULA Connecticut. “We also asked her for an urgent meeting with the recently formed Committee of Solidarity with the Strike in Colombia, so that she can hear directly from the Colombian community and understand the gravity of the moment. In the past we applauded her when she voted against military aid in the 2000s.”

Unidad Latina en Acción, 37 Howe St, New Haven, CT 06511, (203) 606-3484 or (203) 479-2959
https://ulanewhaven.org.

Vigil Honors Lives Lost to COVID in New Haven

by Megan Fountain, Unidad Latina en Accíon

In a vigil to commemorate one year of the COVID crisis, on March 22 the immigrant organization Unidad Latina en Acción (ULA), along with Black & Brown United in Action, and Hamden Action Now remembered 186 lives lost in New Haven, including two of their loved ones, Nora Garcia and Ignacia Teniza.

photo: Frank Panzarella

To the crowd of sixty people, ULA announced a Rental Relief Fund and called for an economic recovery for immigrants. ULA released a report documenting the needs of their community and the urgent demand for an economic recovery to include immigrants. Since the pandemic began, ULA has mobilized nearly a dozen car caravans to the state capitol and governor’s mansion calling for COVID relief for “essential” undocumented workers, who have been excluded from unemployment insurance and federal stimulus payments.

While US Congress has failed to provide any relief to undocumented workers, the state of Connecticut last week launched UniteCT, a $235 million rental assistance program that is open to all residents regardless of immigrant status. At the same time, the state legislature is considering Senate Bill 956, which would open Husky health insurance to immigrants. The rental assistance fund comes after ULA and partner organizations negotiated for nearly one year with the Connecticut Department of Housing and distributed $2.5 million in a pilot program.

“Today as we remember Nora and Ignacia and the 186 lives lost in our city, we will call for a new day in Connecticut, when healthcare and economic security will be a right for all of us, not just for a few of us,” said John Jairo Lugo, Community Organizing Director of ULA.  “As we mourn the dead, we must denounce the deadly racial and economic inequities in this state, and we must fight for the living by creating a recovery for all that includes undocumented workers and families.”

For more information: Megan Fountain, (203) 479-2959, megan@ulanewhaven.org.

To Our Readers

In the past three months, thousands of people in the New Haven area have been out in the streets. Black Lives Matter New Haven, People Against Police Brutality, Unidad Latina en Acción, CT Bail Fund, Ice the Beef, Social Justice Collaborative and the Semilla Collective are some of the organizations that have led protests, spoken out against police brutality, and demanded an effective civilian review board, removal of the Christopher Columbus statue, a moratorium on rent, as well as taken on many other issues of racial, social and economic justice. High school students, New Haven alders and other politicians, peace activists, elders and representatives of various places of worship have been supportive and/or part of this upsurge. Meetings and conferences have continued to take place through Zoom. Not even a pandemic can hold people back from the struggle for justice!

Much of this current organizing and networking is with a few days’ notice through e-mail and social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. As our newsletter is a month-ly, we suggest our readers go to the websites and Facebook pages of various groups to be notified directly of their quickly-planned events.

May Day 2020: International Worker Solidarity: COVID-19 and Beyond, Sunday, May 3, 3 p.m.

This year May Day, International Workers Day, comes in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. Come together in solidarity and unity for a special one-hour May Day 2020 Rally hosted by CT People’s World:

INTERNATIONAL WORKER SOLIDARITY: COVID-19 AND BEYOND

Sunday, May 3 from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. via Zoom and phone.

Register here: us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_uEEDPXkeS4ybRusFhWFR9g

See on Facebook at May Day 2020: International Worker Solidarity: COVID and Beyond
Rally Program:
* Special Guest: Steve Noffke, UAW Local 600, Dearborn, Michigan
* Panel of Connecticut workers on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19 and for workers rights
* Special slide show presentation of working-class struggles around the world
* Solidarity actions and demands
* Staying physically distant, but socially organized to put

People and Planet before Profits!
Register in advance:
us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_uEEDPXkeS4ybRusFhWFR9g
After registering, you will get a confirmation email with information about joining the rally.

Building the Power of Immigrants to Defend Labor, Civil, and Human Rights Since 2002

by Megan Fountain, Unidad Latina en Acción

When we fight… we win!  2019 highlights:

  • 20+ immigrants met with 26 New Haven alders… and we won a new sanctuary city executive order.
  • 9 immigrants produced 81 radio shows… and we activated hundreds of listeners to defend their rights.
  • 50+ immigrants produced an art exhibit and an original theater performance.
  • 100+ allies were trained by ULA in nonviolent direct action… and ULA mobilized 100s to keep ICE out of our neighborhoods and courts.
  • 60+ community meetings united 80+ families fighting deportations and workers’ rights cases.

ULA, 37 Howe Street, New Haven, CT 06511. (203) 606-3484, admin@ulanewhaven.org.

Visit our website at ulanewhaven.org for information on making a tax-deductible donation for our work.

Sanctuary Order Issued; New Law Sought

A month after immigration activists heckled her at a rally, Mayor Toni Harp surprised them Wednesday night by announcing a new sanctuary-style executive order to protect the legal rights of the undocumented.

Activists praised the move — and called on the Board of Alders to take the next step by passing a law to make official New Haven’s status as a “sanctuary city.”

Harp announced the executive order on City Hall’s steps Wednesday evening, in front of nearly 150 sign-carrying protestors who’d turned out for a rally organized by Unidad Latina en Acción (ULA) and New Haven Rising to call on the Board of Alders to pass the proposal to formally define New Haven as a “sanctuary city.”

Under the proposed legislation that alders are expected to take up soon, New Haven’s approach would be “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Arrest.”

Policies already require cops and teachers to follow most of those rules. Harp’s new executive order extends them to the rest of city government.

(Click here to download a copy of Harp’s executive order.)

Source: Sanctuary Order Issued; New Law Sought | New Haven Independent

Join the statewide Rapid Response Network in Connecticut

With the government threatening deportation raids, Unidad Latina en Acción is operating a 24-hour hotline and coordinating with groups across Connecticut to mobilize in the event of raids and deportations. Please indicate your town or city so that we can connect you to the Rapid Response Network in your region. Rapid Response means that you are ready to rally immediately during and after immigration raids and possibly take on volunteer roles. We also seek volunteers now to accompany immigrants during their court hearings. For accompaniment, you must be available some weekdays between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. Training will be provided. Go to www.ulanewhaven.org/volunteer.

People’s World Amistad Awards: Resisting Together

by Joelle Fishman, CT People’s World

This year’s People’s World Amistad Awards are dedicated to “Resisting Together So We Can Move Forward.” The event will take place on Saturday, December 9, 2017 at 4:00 p.m. at the First and Summerfield United Methodist Church, 425 College St, New Haven.

We are excited to announce this year’s awardees Peggy Buchanan, Rep. Robyn Porter, and Camila and Carolina Bortolleto. All are on the front lines of resisting the policies of white supremacy, hate, division and fear that threaten democracy and our future. All are fierce warriors in the forefront of demanding priorities for workers’ rights, peace and equality that put people and planet before profits.

The Awards will take place on Saturday, December 9 at 4 p.m. at the First and Summerfield United Methodist Church at 425 College Street, New Haven. Marco Reyes took sanctuary there in July to resist deportation and separation from his family. The event will pay tribute to the Reyes family and Unidad Latina en Acción. The unions at Yale have their offices at the church. The event will pay tribute to the ongoing struggle of Unite Here Local 33 for union recognition and a contract.

  • Peggy Buchanan is Connecticut AFL-CIO campaign manager and former president, Greater Hartford Labor Council who has dedicated her life to solidarity and organizing workers on the job, in the community and to run for public office.
  • Rep. Robyn Porter represents the 94th District and co-chairs the Labor Committee in the Connecticut General Assembly where she leads for social justice, equality and workers’ rights as an elected official and at the grass roots level.
  • Camila and Carolina Bortolleto are courageous twins who co-founded CT Students For a Dream which has become a statewide voice and organization of youth “undocumented and unafraid” and organizes for the rights of all immigrants.

The annual Awards are presented to allies by the Connecticut People’s World Committee on the occasion of the 98th anniversary of the Communist Party USA. We come together in hope and unity as increased economic and racial inequalities, climate change and war give rise to new organizing by youth, low-wage workers and the 99% toward a society that puts people and planet before corporate profits.

In Solidarity, People’s World Amistad Awards Committee

We invite you to place an ad in the greeting book and take a bloc of tickets to honor the awardees and the occasion. The ad deadline is Nov. 17, 2017. Ads range in price, starting at $15. Tickets are $10. For details, contact People’s World Amistad Awards, (203) 624-4254. E-mail formatted ad copy or text: ct-pww@pobox.com or mail to: 37 Howe St, New Haven, CT 06511.

Discussion Series Talks Immigrant Rights

by Rocel Beatriz Balmes & Sara Tabin, Yale Daily News Staff

Over 50 New Haven residents and Yale affiliates gathered in the Yale Law School on Monday night to discuss immigrant and worker rights as part of the final installment of the Yale and New Haven Discussion Series.

The event, titled “Local Activism in the Trump Age: Protect Immigrant and Worker Rights,” began with a panel and then opened into a group discussion. Panelists included Fatima Rojas of Unidad Latina en Acción, Ana Maria Rivera-Forastieri of JUNTA for Progressive Action, Rev. James Manship of St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church and Michael Wishnie ’87 LAW ’93 of the Law School. Monday’s discussion, the fourth and final one in the series for this academic year, centered on current activism in New Haven and the role allies can play in the efforts to resist President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant policy.

“[Trump] has really created this heightened anxiety and depression in our community,” Rivera-Forastieri said. “[This] is something I have never seen before.”

During the panel, Rivera-Forastieri said many allies have come forward since November’s election to help, but that at times the outpouring of support can be overwhelming. Some have ended up creating more work for immigrant advocacy groups, who have to reply to emails and keep track of the new volunteers, she added.

Read the whole story here at Yale Daily News: Discussions series talks immigrant rights

On the Events of the Peaceful No Ban No Wall Rally on Saturday, Feb. 4

by Unidad Latina en Acción, ulaccion@yahoo.com

We are deeply disappointed by the way the media has reported on the events of the peaceful No Ban No Wall rally on Saturday. We depend on the press to ensure that the entire story is made known, to hold accountable all authorities involved, to fact check statements, and to be unbiased in their reporting. This has not happened.

Our account of the events is as follows: After a gathering of around 300 people at City Hall, a peaceful march began walking through downtown New Haven. Prior to arrival to Route 34, protesters were reminded that ambulances and other emergency vehicles must be allowed through.

Nonviolent protestors held the highway for approximately 30 minutes during which time state police arrived with several canine units. At one point, at least one citizen was observed leaving their car and joining the protest. A legal observer was reminding at least three different state police officers that protestors would move off the roadway for any emergency, at which point she was jumped on by a police canine.

At no point were any lights or sirens observed from an ambulance. However, when protestors were informed of a potential medical situation in a civilian vehicle, protestors immediately cleared the lane of their own accord and did not reoccupy it. Simultaneously, state police pointed pepper spray and used canines to intimidate protestors who were already in the process of clearing the roadway.

Marchers left Route 34 after being given one verbal warning about leaving the state highway. Shortly thereafter, marchers were kettled on North Frontage Road between Orange and State Streets, an illegal tactic in which police attempt to surround protestors with the intent of limiting their mobility in order to arrest them en masse. The march was able to take an alternate route through a parking lot towards City Hall, its intended end.

The march was cut short on Church Street approaching Chapel Street. Local police, at the direction of state police and without verbal warning, started using force to push marchers towards the sidewalk. As marchers complied by making their way to the sidewalk, police aggression escalated rapidly. At this point the crowd was only around 50. Marchers were hurried to get on an already packed sidewalk by the threat of pepper spray, batons, and three aggressive canines. As marchers were trying to make room on the side-walk, one person got a concussion from being thrown on the pavement by police, an elderly woman was knocked down by police, and pepper spray was deployed into the crowded sidewalk without warning.
The police mishandled the situation from start to finish. State police recklessly escalated the situation. As a sanctuary city, local police should be protecting their residents rather than violating their rights. The coalition of organizations involved in this event invites local police to work with us on training in nonviolent de-escalation tactics.

Our message must be highlighted: at a time when individuals’ and families’ very existence is being threatened by the Muslim Ban and the threat of a wall along our border, we are standing together to oppose state sanctioned violence and xenophobia. Together we are working towards a world without oppression. Unidad Latina en Acción, ANSWER Coalition, PSL, New Haven Space of Encounter.

100+ Attend May 1 International Worker’s Day March in New Haven

by Melinda Tuhus

may-day-2016-iiMore than a hundred people marched through downtown New Haven Sunday May 1, in the annual immigrants’ rights action. An enthusiastic crowd led by Unidad Latina en Acción (ULA) braved cold May showers on May Day this year.

The march included mostly young activists, children and college students. There were many signs and banners and robust chanting. No more deportations!

The marchers were accompanied by a lively group of very humorous and energetic “Radical Cheerleaders.” As the group walked down Chapel Street, the chants called for free education and free health care for all, as well as immigrants’ labor rights. Yale senior Sebi Medina-Tayac, a member of the Piscataway Nation as well as ULA, said the group wanted to bring attention especially to immigrant labor in New Haven, which is concentrated in construction and food service.

ULA works to create a vision for workers’ rights and freedom for all people based not only on lefty labor movements, but also to show the labor movement as something that’s diverse, changing, global and inclusive of people from all backgrounds regardless of citizen status or the color of their skin.

may-day-2016-iMarchers stopped to chant in front of restaurants that they say have mistreated their workers. They said Atticus restaurant fired a long-time worker who spoke out against a pay cut and hired a union-busting firm to thwart the mostly immigrant workers’ attempt to unionize. The owner was not available and a manager said their policy was not to comment on the charges.

The march also stopped at Calhoun College to protest the college named after an avowed racist.

Thank you to New Haven Workers Association – Unidad Latina en Acción for continuing to fight for the dignity of all our communities! Together they seek to build unity for racial, gender and economic justice, including defending the freedom and dignity of and respect for all people and the planet.

Unidad Latina en Acción and Rosa DeLauro Push to Stop Wage Theft

Brothers Axel and Henry Tubac worked for a company installing kitchens. For the first two years they were paid without fail. Then, for six and seven weeks, respectively, their employer stopped paying them.

When they met with U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro at New Haven Legal Assistance headquarters Tuesday afternoon, the brothers still hadn’t been paid.  They have filed suit against their former employer for wage theft.

“It was just a nightmare what happened to me,” Axel Tubac recalled. “I did not have food. I talked to my boss many, many times. He just seemed like he don’t care. He owes me about $4,000; $500 in overtime that he did not pay.”

….

Lugo was arrested on Nov. 22 for disturbing the peace during a protest outside of Goodfellas. He argued that the police are more interested in harassing him for protesting rather than going after restaurant owners that are allegedly committing the far more serious crime of stealing from their employees and thumbing their noses at the law.

To read the entire article with all the photos, visit: DeLauro Targets Wage Theft | New Haven Independent

 

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