Tag Archives: North America

Memphis’ MLK50 commemoration marks ‘time for a political revolution’

. . . EDUCATION FOR PEACE . . .

An article by Kevin McKenzie for High Ground News (reprinted as non-commercial use)

As thousands of union members and supporters prepared to march in Memphis on the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s slaying while supporting the city’s sanitation workers, the point of the outpouring became clear.

Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union still representing those workers today, tied the past to the present.

“Fifty years ago those brave 1,300 sanitation workers, the faith-based community, our community partners, walked together hand-in-hand, singing together, praying together, walking and demanding justice and dignity for those sanitation workers,” Saunders told the marchers. “We will do the same today, sisters and brothers. That same coalition, coming together, fighting the good fight. Are you ready?” he asked.


Teddy McNeal (center) raises his fist during Common’s performance outside the AFSCME Hall. McNeal traveled from Kinston, NC with his Machinists union. (Andrea Morales/MLK50)

Fusing together broad coalitions and movements to harness the power of voting, nonviolent civil disobedience and union organizing were a clear message repeated during three days of conferences, speeches and workshops culminating with Wednesday’s march.

Martin Luther King III echoed those themes during a closing rally in a South Memphis field adjacent to Mason Temple, where King spoke the night before he was slain at the Lorraine Motel, now part of the National Civil Rights Museum.

“We’ve got to find ways to register people like never before,” King said. “And we’ve got to vote in November like never before. Black Lives Matter, Me Too movement and finally the student high school movement to address guns in this country, we should be excited about that,” King said.

Before the march started from AFSCME Local 1733 headquarters, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said called King a nonviolent revolutionary. Honoring his legacy means following his footsteps and transforming the country.

“Dr. King was many, many things,” Sanders said. “What he was mostly about was understanding that we are all of a common humanity — black and white and Latino and Asian American and Native American. We have common dreams and today we tell the president of the United States and anyone else, you are not going to divide us up.”


AFSCME and the Memphis-based Church of God In Christ, headquartered at Mason Temple, partnered to support an I Am 2018 conference and the march.

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Question related to this article:
 
What’s the message to us today from Martin Luther King, Jr.?

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Rev. William Barber, co-founder of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for a Moral Revival, which rekindles King’s Poor People’s Campaign by harnessing civil disobedience to target government policies, shuttled between appearances, including the rally, to urge fusion and action.

“You dishonor the movement and dishonor the prophet if you just remember the prophet without having a revival of the movement the prophet stood for,” Barber told the marchers. “I’ve come today to tell you this is not time for a party, it is time for a political revolution.”

AFSCME and other public-sector unions also are preparing for what they fear may be a damaging U.S. Supreme Court case to be decided in coming months, Janus vs. AFSCME, that could cripple their ability to collect fees in some states.

The unions, as well as Democratic candidates they tend to support, would suffer the blow.

Entertainers including Common and Sheila E, who also delivered a speech at the closing rally, performed for the marchers.

CNN cable news political commentator Van Jones introduced speakers at the closing rally. Jones said his father was born in Memphis, went to Melrose High School, and was in Memphis the day King was slain.

“My father said that was the worst day of his life and the worst day in the life of Memphis. I wish he were here today to see the beauty, to see the strength to see the resilience, to see the power,” he said.

Another CNN political commentator, Angela Rye, also spoke, continuing a war of words with Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland.

“Tell him that my facts are straight and here are the facts, Mayor Strickland, because I asked you if this was a Memphis that you are proud of, if you and the way that you are dealing with your workers in 2018, which is far too similar to the way that Mayor Loeb dealt with workers in 1968,” Rye said.

The city paid Rye to be keynote speaker Feb. 24 at an MLK50 event. Rye, who had met with Memphis activists beforehand, spoke critically of issues ranging from progress to policing in Memphis with Strickland sitting nearby.

The mayor told The Commercial Appeal that he didn’t know who Rye was, that she was wrong and out of touch at times, but that it was good to be challenged. He later followed up with a more detailed rebuttal.

Rev. Al Sharpton was among speakers who pointed to the continuing issue of police shootings of unarmed black men, as well as poverty and income inequality.

“We’re shot too much, incarcerated too long, that’s why we march,” Sharpton said.

Tilman Hardy, 41, is with Step Up Louisiana, which pushed for a statewide economic platform that was shot down by a House committee in the state legislature on party lines, with nine white Republicans voting no and three black Democrats voting yes, he said.

“That still shows that our nation is divided and all of these years later it seems like we still haven’t moved the needle as much as we could have. So days like today mean a great deal to America and New Orleans,” said Hardy, helping to hold a banner as he marched.

USA: The Missing Link in the Gun Debate

. .DISARMAMENT & SECURITY. .

An article by Greta Zarro for Common Dreams (reprinted according to a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License)

America is up in arms about guns. If last month’s “March for Our Lives,” which attracted over one million marchers nationwide, is any indication, we’ve got a serious problem with gun violence, and people are fired up about it.  
But what’s not being talked about in the mainstream media, or even by the organizers and participants in the March for Our Lives movement, is the link between the culture of gun violence and the culture of war, or militarism, in this nation. Nik Cruz, the now infamous Parkland, FL shooter, was taught how to shoot a lethal weapon in the very school that he later targeted in the heart-breaking Valentine’s Day Massacre. Yes, that’s right; our children are trained as shooters in their school cafeterias, as part of the U.S. military’s Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) marksmanship program.  



Members of the Patch High School drill team compete in the team exhibition portion of the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps drill meet at Heidelberg High School April 25. (Photo: Kristen Marquez, Herald Post/flickr/cc)

Nearly 2,000 U.S. high schools have such JROTC marksmanship programs, which are taxpayer-funded and rubber-stamped by Congress. Cafeterias are transformed into firing ranges, where children, as young as 13 years old, learn how to kill. The day that Nik Cruz opened fire on his classmates, he proudly wore a t-shirt emblazoned with the letters “JROTC.” JROTC’s motto? “Motivating Young People to Be Better Citizens.” By training them to wield a gun?  

I want to know why America isn’t marching against the military’s marksmanship programs. I want to know why millions aren’t knocking on their representatives’ doors and refusing to pay their taxes, until congressionally-approved firing ranges are removed from schools. Meanwhile, military recruiters hobnob with students during lunch break, then train them how to shoot in that same cafeteria and lure them to enlist. No doubt, the military’s pitch is slick, and economically enticing. That is, until the trainees turn on their classmates and teachers.

Perhaps what’s key above all, however, is that JROTC, and U.S. militarism as a whole, is embedded in our sociocultural framework as Americans, so much so that to question it is to cast doubt on one’s patriotic allegiance to this nation. To me, this explains why the Nik Cruz JROTC connection is not even an option on the table in the dialogue about gun violence. Why, at last month’s March for Our Lives in D.C., when my colleagues held up signs about the JROTC marksmanship program, marchers nodded in approval and bragged that they were JROTC trained.  

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Question related to this article:

Do you think handguns should be banned?, Why or why not?

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The culture of war is pervasive in our society, through military-funded Hollywood films and video games, the militarization of the police, and JROTC and ROTC programs in our schools. The Pentagon receives the names, addresses, and phone numbers of all of our children, unless parents tell their children’s schools to opt them out. Nearly all of us are culpable, wittingly or unwittingly, in supporting the spread of U.S. militarism through our silent complicity and our tax dollars.  

The average mass shooter in this country is, by and large, an American male with a history of mental illness, criminal charges, or illicit substance abuse, according to a recently released March 2018 report by the U.S. Secret Services. He is not an ISIS terrorist or Al-Qaeda plotter. In fact, findings show that, above any ideology, mass attackers are most often motivated by a personal vendetta. What the Secret Services report does not talk about, however, is the disproportionate number of mass attackers who have been trained by the U.S. military. While veterans account for 13% of the the adult population, the data shows that more than 1/3 of adult perpetrators of the 43 worst mass killings between 1984 and 2006 had been in the U.S. military. Further, a 2015 study in the Annals of Epidemiology found that veterans kill themselves at a rate 50% higher than their civilian counterparts. This speaks volumes about the damaging psychological impact of war, and, I would argue, the deleterious potential of the warlike “us vs. them” mentality that JROTC and ROTC programs instill in the minds of developing youth, not to mention the very real marksmanship skills that they teach.  

While military recruits with access to a gun pose a risk to Americans at home, meanwhile, our soldiers abroad are not much more effective at policing the world. As military spending has skyrocketed in recent decades, now accounting for over fifty percent of U.S. federal discretionary spending, according to the National Priorities Project, so has terrorism.

Despite our country’s endless state of military “interventions” in other nations, the Global Terrorism Index in fact records a steady increase in terrorist attacks from the beginning of our “war on terror” in 2001 to the present. Federal intelligence analysts and retired officers admit that U.S. occupations generate more hatred, resentment, and blowback than they prevent. According to a declassified intelligence report on the war on Iraq, “despite serious damage to the leadership of al-Qaida, the threat from Islamic extremists has spread both in numbers and in geographic reach.” With the U.S. government spending a combined $1 trillion annually on war and preparations for war, including the stationing of troops at over 800 bases worldwide, there is little left of the public purse to spend on domestic necessities.

The American Society of Civil Engineers ranks U.S. infrastructure as a D+. We rank 4th in the world for wealth inequality, according to the OECD. U.S. infant mortality rates are the highest in the developed world, according to UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston. Communities across the nation lack access to clean drinking water and proper sanitation, a UN human right that the U.S. fails to recognize.

Forty million Americans live in poverty. Given this lack of a basic social safety net, is it any wonder that people enlist in the armed forces for economic relief and a supposed sense of purpose, grounded in our nation’s history of associating military service with heroism?  
If we want to prevent the next mass shooting, we need to stop fueling the culture of violence and militarism, and that starts with ending JROTC marksmanship programs in our schools.

In pictures: ‘March for Our Lives’ Rallies Demand Stricter US Gun Controls

. .DISARMAMENT & SECURITY. .

A multimedia gallery from Telesur

Thousands demonstrated across the United States to demand gun controls in the wake of February’s school shooting in Florida, which killed 17 people. The nationwide March For Our Lives rallies, some led by student survivors, aim to break the legislative gridlock stymying efforts to restrict firearms in a nation where mass shootings like the one on Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have become frighteningly common.



Across the United States and outside U.S. embassies, hundreds of thousands of campaigners took part in the ‘March for Our Lives’ anti-gun protests. Photo:Reuters


With slogans such as ‘If they choose guns over our kids, vote them out,’ protesters in Washington jammed Pennsylvania Avenue as students from the Florida high school where 17 people were murdered called on lawmakers and President Donald Trump to confront the issue. Photo:Reuters


Celebrities sang and survivors spoke, rallying the crowds with chants of ‘Never Again’ and promising that the Florida Parkland students would challenge congressmen and ‘Vote Them Out.’ Photo:Reuters


Students listen as Emma Gonzalez, a survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting in Florida, addresses crowds at the ‘March for Our Lives’ event. Photo:Reuters


Protesters hold photos of school shooting victims during a demonstration demanding stricter gun controls in New York City. Photo:Reuters


Parkland shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez addresses the ‘March For Our Lives’ event before pausing for a full 6 minutes and 20 seconds silence – the time it took for the gunman to kill 17 of her Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School classmates. Photo:Reuters

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Question related to this article:

Do you think handguns should be banned?, Why or why not?

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On Friday, Trump signed a US$1.3 trillion bill that includes modest improvements to background checks for gun sales and grants to help schools prevent gun violence. Photo:Reuters


“I have learned to duck from bullets before I learned to read,” said Edna Chavez, 17, a student at the Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles, who lost a brother to gun violence. Photo:Reuters


“Politicians: either represent the people or get out. Stand with us or beware, the voters are coming,” Cameron Kasky, a 17-year-old high school junior, told the crowd. Photo:Reuters


Student marchers filled streets nationwide, including in Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, San Diego and St. Louis. Photo:Reuters


Shooting survivors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida led the demonstration. Photo:Reuters


More than 800 demonstrations were scheduled, with events as far afield as London, Tokyo, Mauritius and Stockholm. Photo:Reuters

‘No more’ or we vote you out: students lead huge U.S. anti-gun rallies

.DISARMAMENT & SECURITY.

An article from Thomson Reuters

Chanting “never again,” hundreds of thousands of young Americans and their supporters answered a call to action from survivors of last month’s Florida high school massacre and rallied across the United States on Saturday to demand tighter gun laws.

In some of the biggest U.S. youth demonstrations for decades, protesters called on lawmakers and President Donald Trump to confront the issue. Voter registration activists fanned out in the crowds, signing up thousands of the nation’s newest voters.



Frame from video on Reuters website

At the largest March For Our Lives protest, demonstrators jammed Washington’s Pennsylvania Avenue where they listened to speeches from survivors of the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

There were sobs as one teenage survivor, Emma Gonzalez, read the names of the 17 victims and then stood in silence. Tears ran down her cheeks as she stared out over the crowd for the rest of a speech that lasted six minutes and 20 seconds, the time it took for the gunman to slaughter them.

The massive March For Our Lives rallies aimed to break legislative gridlock that has long stymied efforts to increase restrictions on firearms sales in a nation where mass shootings like the one in Parkland have become frighteningly common.

“Politicians: either represent the people or get out. Stand with us or beware, the voters are coming,” Cameron Kasky, a 17-year-old junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, told the crowd.

Another survivor, David Hogg, said it was a new day.

“We’re going to make sure the best people get in our elections to run not as politicians, but as Americans. Because this – this – is not cutting it,” he said, pointing at the white-domed Capitol behind the stage.

Youthful marchers filled streets in cities including Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, San Diego and St. Louis.

More than 800 demonstrations were scheduled in the United States and overseas, according to coordinators, with events as far afield as London, Mauritius, Stockholm and Sydney.

‘Take Their Liberty Away’

Underlining sharp differences among the American public over the issue, counter-demonstrators and supporters of gun rights were also in evidence in many U.S. cities.

Organizers of the anti-gun rallies want Congress, many of whose members are up for re-election in November, to ban the sale of assault weapons like the one used in the Florida rampage and to tighten background checks for gun buyers.

On the other side of the debate, gun rights advocates cite constitutional guarantees of the right to bear arms.

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Question related to this article:

Do you think handguns should be banned?, Why or why not?

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“All they’re doing is asking the government to take their liberty away from them without due process,” Brandon Howard, a 42-year-old Trump supporter, said of the protesters in the capital. He had a sign saying: “Keep your hands off my guns.”

Wearing a red “Make America Great Again” sweatshirt, 16-year-old Connor Humphrey of San Luis Obispo, California, said: “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.”

Humphrey, who was visiting Washington with his family for spring break, said he owns guns for target shooting and hunting and uses them responsibly. His school had a lockdown exercise last week.

“I think teachers should have guns,” he said, echoing a proposal made by Trump after the Parkland killings.

Still, rallies for tighter firearm restrictions also sprang up in rural, Republican-leaning communities ranging from Lewiston, Idaho to Logan, Utah where there is strong support for the Second Amendment constitutional right to own guns.

Among those marching next to New York’s Central Park to call for tighter gun controls was pop star Paul McCartney, who said he had a personal stake in the debate.

“One of my best friends was shot not far from here,” he told CNN, referring to Beatles bandmate John Lennon, who was gunned down near the park in 1980.

Taking aim at the National Rifle Association gun lobby, teenagers chanted, “Hey, hey, NRA, how many kids have you killed today?”

The young U.S. organizers have won kudos and cash from dozens of celebrities, with singers Demi Lovato and Ariana Grande, as well as “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, among those performing in Washington. Actor George Clooney and his human rights attorney wife, Amal, donated $500,000 and said they would be at the Washington rally.

The U.S. football team the New England Patriots loaned its plane to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students and their families to travel to Washington.

At the march in Washington, an elementary school student from Virginia, Naomi Wadler, 11, captivated demonstrators when she spoke up for African American girls who were victims of gun violence but whose stories “don’t make the front page.”

White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters said the administration applauded “the many courageous young Americans” who exercised their free-speech rights.

“Keeping our children safe is a top priority of the president’s,” said Walters, noting that on Friday the Justice Department proposed rule changes that would effectively ban “bump stock” devices that let semi-automatic weapons fire like a machine gun.

Also on Friday, Trump signed a $1.3-trillion spending bill including modest improvements to background checks for gun sales and grants to help schools prevent gun violence.

Former President Barack Obama said on Twitter that he and his wife Michelle were inspired by all the young people who made the marches happen.

“Keep at it. You’re leading us forward. Nothing can stand in the way of millions of voices calling for change,” Obama said.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson, Lacey Johnson, Katanga Johnson and Lauren Young in Washington, Alice Popovici in New York, Phoenix Tso in Los Angeles, Zachary Fagenson in Parkland, Robert Chiarito in Chicago, Jim Oliphant in West Palm Beach and Andrew Hay in Taos; Editing by Daniel Wallis, James Dalgleish and Nick Zieminski)

World Peace Flame to be lit in Ashland, Oregon (USA)

. . DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION . .

An article from the Ashland Culture of Peace Commission

On September 21, 2018, the International Day of Peace, the World Peace Flame will be lit in the Thalden Pavilion, Sustainability Center on the Southern Oregon University (SOU) campus. A delegation from the World Peace Flame Foundation will come to Ashland for the lighting ceremony, together with our State and City dignitaries. This symbol of peace, unity, freedom and celebration aims to inspire people everywhere that the individual plays a crucial role in creating peace at every level. From a few feet to less than a mile from the World Peace Flame Monument reside Walker Elementary School, Ashland Middle School, Ashland High School, and Southern Oregon University. The World Peace Flame will provide hope and inspiration to our future leaders, and light the hearts of all who visit it.


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There are few opportunities in our lifetimes to make contributions which have local, national and international significance, directly impact the aspirations of people of our daily lives and the lives of future generations, and become a proud part of our own legacy. This need has never been greater than it is right now. Establishing the World Peace Flame Monument in Ashland, Oregon is that opportunity through which we can recognize and work toward our commonalties, rather than our differences. This is “One Flame – uniting people worldwide”, the tag line from the World Peace Flame Foundation, The Hague, Netherlands.

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Question related to this article:

 
How can culture of peace be developed at the municipal level?

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On September 2015, Irene Kai, co-founder of the Ashland Culture of Peace Commission (ACPC) discovered the World Peace Flame Monument deep in the Snowdonia Mountain in Wales. She was told the history of the World Peace Flame and was offered a candle to light from the flame to bring back to Ashland. Irene lit the candle during the inauguration of ACPC on the International Day of Peace, September 21, 2015.
 
Local philanthropists Barry and Kathryn Thalden invited Ashland Culture of Peace Commission to put the World Peace Flame in the outdoor pavilion they had endowed at SOU. The World Peace Flame complements the pavilion’s goals of advancing innovation in sustainability and the arts. The eternal flame will be placed near the base of the obelisk encased in glass. It is flanked by two 24-foot cedar carvings by local Native American sculptor, Russell Beebe. He called one of the carvings the “teaching pole”. He said, “at this moment in history, we are at a crossroad; we must choose either the sacred path to wholeness or the path of destruction.” It is fitting for the World Peace Flame to be at the heart of the obelisk, to serve as the living flame igniting the flames in the hearts of all people to commit to walk our sacred path in peace.
 
The only other World Peace Flame in the United States resides in the Civil Rights Museum, the Lorraine Motel, Memphis, Tennessee, the assassination site of Dr. Martin Luther King. As the City of Ashland had proclaimed itself an International City of Peace, the Ashland monument will be known throughout the Cities of Peace all over the world. Visitors from Oregon, across the United States and from other countries will also be drawn to this flame of peace and carry it in their hearts back to their homes and communities.
 
We all have a role to play in bringing greater peace and well-being into our lives and that of our community. Please make a donation to ensure that the installation, lighting ceremony and ongoing care of the World Peace Flame will prevail.

USA: Branford High Students Find Their Voice

.DISARMAMENT & SECURITY.

An article by Marcia Chambers from the New Haven Independent

Abby Boyle, a junior at Branford High School, remembers the moment she took her cell phone to sign up her high school for the national student walkout to raise awareness about gun violence in the nation’s schools. 

It was a moment she and others will never forget because it was part of a national event that has transformed her and hundreds of other Branford students, an event they organized. 

“A big part of this was to show that our generation is going to make the change because we are the future, and we are soon to be adults. So it is like this is our time to really get out there and have them listen to us,” said Jayleen Flores (pictured), a senior and the president of the school’s Student Council.


Abby Boyle, Jayleen Flores, Andrew DeBenedictis, Mary Olejarzyk
(Bill O’Brien photo)

The national student walkout idea began on social media shortly after 17 students and teachers were gunned down in their classrooms on Feb. 14 at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. A former student armed with a high-powered assault rifle and determined to open fire went into the school and executed his plan.

Branford students created their own program, encouraged by school administrators to do so. The Walsh Intermediate School also had a program. The high school program held last Wednesday was led by Boyle and three other student leaders, Flores, a senior; Andrew DeBenedictis, a junior; and Mary Olejarzyk, a junior. Flores is student council president. The others all hold officer positions in various school organizations. (See photo)

The four students met with the Eagle last Friday in the office of High School Principal Lee Panagoulias, Jr., who said about 500 to 600 students attended the walkout program, which had been planned for outdoors, but was redirected to the school gym because it had snowed the day before. Those who did not participate went to the school auditorium. Faculty chose their destinations as well.

Olejarzyk said, “I think in terms of finding our voice, we were never told no. This administration was willing and excited to help us. In a lot of different schools in other parts of the country and even in Connecticut, kids were told they would be suspended if they walked out, and that is not personally what I think they should be saying. Young people were the lowest number of voters turning out in recent elections. I think we need to encourage voting, and I appreciate what our school did. They let us have our voice.”

The students said they would have liked the press to be there and one of them said she had contacted a local television station. “I think the press being there would have been nice, especially for us. I think it would have been nice because more people could have heard our story,” Boyle said.

Before last Wednesday’s event, the Eagle contacted Hamlet Hernandez, the district’s superintendent, to ask if we could cover the student program at the high school. He said it was closed to the press. He would not explain why it was closed to the press except to say some events were open and some were not. 
 
Growing Up With Sandy Hook

Boyle, one of the high school’s leaders, wanted her school to be part of a program to commemorate the lives of those lost that day and to find a way to talk about safety for students. The attack on the Florida high school was the 17th school shooting in the U.S. in the first 45 days of 2018. 

These Branford teens have lived with kids being killed in their classrooms since they were 12. They said they all remember well when a young man named Adam Lanza walked into the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, five years ago and opened fire, killing 20 children, ages 6 to 7 years old, and six educators, including teachers and the school principal. Then he killed himself. He had earlier killed his mother. 

Abby Boyle, a junior at Branford High School, remembers the moment she took her smart phone to sign up her high school for the national student walkout to raise awareness about gun violence in the nation’s schools. 

It was a moment she and others will never forget because it led to a national event that has transformed her and hundreds of other Branford students.

When Olejarzyk spoke before those in the high school gym she read a letter she wrote to U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, who in the aftermath of Sandy Hook has devoted himself to changing how the nation deals with guns and the law. In her letter she told Murphy what it was like “to be our age and to grow up in an age of Sandy Hook. This has to stop.”

Murphy, along with U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal and U.S. Reps. Rosa DeLauro and Elizabeth Esty spoke to the thousands of students who assembled at the National Student Walkout in Washington, D.C. 

Olejarzyk told Murphy what it has been like “with this constant news of new mass shootings in schools in other places. This affects us.” She said she wrote Murphy that “we are ready to make the change; we are ready when we are 18 vote for officials who will make the change on what should be adopted.”

Boyle said she started the process to involve BHS in the national student walkout “about one month ago,” after she learned about the walkout on social media. “The idea was to get kids involved and to raise awareness against gun violence and to show remembrance for all the victims lost due to that violence and to show Congress that we care.”

Thousands of students in schools across the state and country walked out on the morning of March 14, each school doing it their own way. In nearby Guilford the students walked out of their classrooms and onto the street, standing in front of their school. Other kids took to their local town or city halls. But some Connecticut school districts threatened to suspend students for walking out, not happy with the idea that students would create their own independent program. 

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Question related to this article:

Do you think handguns should be banned?, Why or why not?

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Student Chosen Themes
 
At the Branford High gym, each of the four student leaders, led with a theme. Boyle began with a Remembrance, reading aloud the 17 names of those shot to death. Flores spoke about students finding a voice. DeBenedictis spoke about student unity, and Olejarzyk spoke about teenage life and its challenges. 

The Branford students defined the walkout as leaving their classrooms, not necessarily leaving the building. “We all physically left the classroom. There were a lot of different ways to do this and this is the way we chose it,” DeBenedictis said. He added that it had snowed the day before and the student leaders didn’t feel comfortable forcing everyone out. We decided it was better to have it in the gym,” he said, adding it was easier to hear in the gym than on the field.
   
Flores got right to the point on the location issue. “When I spoke I made the point that it doesn’t matter where we’re standing, but that we are standing. Some people were pretty upset that we weren’t going out, but it shouldn’t matter where we are. It is what we are standing up for.”

All four were highly aware of the fact that they may well be the generation to change America’s thinking about guns, violence, and schools. Each has come to see how they empowerment works; each has now discovered an inner voice they want to share with others.

DeBenedictis said, “And what we are seeing in Congress is that actions that should have been happening haven’t taken place over the last 20 years where school shootings have become increasingly more common. And because our politicians really aren’t taking care of this we felt it was time for students to step up and start fighting for ourselves.” 

Olejarzyk agreed. “I think what happened in Florida really resonated with people our age because we are very politically aware and after what the students in Parkland started we felt really inspired to help make their message louder up here.”

The Eagle asked each student what he or she took away from the experience.

Boyle said, “I guess what I felt thinking back a few weeks ago when I found this (demonstration) on the internet, I said I am going to set up my school for this and see what happens. I was thinking this probably won’t be a big thing. And it is just so surreal to see that we were part of this movement and that we are such a small little school, in a small town, in a small state, but it really shows that our actions matter, that we could do something really huge.”

DeBenedictis said, “When all was said and done, thousands if not hundreds of thousands of students at schools participated in this across the country. We are writing history in textbooks for one of the largest student movements in history.

“This really helped us find a voice, a united front. I think this is an issue that students need to be organized on.  As young people we found a voice on this issue. With the march on Washington coming, it is really good that we are making this all happen,” DeBenedictis added. 

Panagoulias, who let the students do virtually all the talking at the interview, was asked by the Eagle about earlier student movements in American history.

He remembered demonstrations of decades past. “During the ’70s it was a lot of us versus them, students versus the institution. I think one of the things Branford chose to do is to support their kids. This was a great opportunity for the entire learning community. Some teachers went out. Some didn’t.”

The principal asked the four students, “If you wanted to go outside do you think we would have supported that?”

“Yes,” Boyle said. “It didn’t matter where.” DeBenedictus observed that in the gym “we could hear each other speaking.”

What the four students said they learned was that coming together changed how they think. Each seemed to have found new goals and a new direction that would take them outside themselves in the future.

Voting in Elections  

Asked if they had registered to vote, all said they have pre-registered to vote so that may do so when they turn 18.  The principal said “We will have the Registrars of Voters here in the spring when more kids are of age so that they can register.” 

Boyle delivered the register to vote message to the hundreds of students gathered in the gym. “Our decisions matter. Each and every one of us has to register to vote. We need support. Our generation needs to have a voice.” The energy in the gym after a walk-out that lasted 17 minutes was intense, she said. “ This was an overflowing of energy, of positivity. Everyone was commenting. It was really awesome,” she said. 

Flores said, “Everyone I talked to left with a great feeling afterward. They were inspired.”

DeBenedictis pointed out that for many people “this was their major political event, for many this was the first time they made a poster, or came out because they were passionate about something and that was a really big deal for a lot of students. I think that will inspire them in the future, to stand up for what they believe in.

“One other thing I want to add. I think this idea that young people are completely apathetic about politics, I think that is declining. If you look at our generation, how passionate we are about these issues that are affecting us, I think young people are really waking up. I think it will explode in 2016 and especially in the presidential election in 2018.” 

Other Points of View
 
Those students who did not walk out may still be involved in many of the issues, Panagoulias observed. 

“Those students may be involved but they may have different opinions. Because they chose not to participate it may mean they have different viewpoints but they may still be involved.”

Boyle said that while the focus of her program was not guns or violence “we brought it up and mentioned it, and some people have really strong opinions about gun restrictions and gun laws.

“Even if you may have a different opinion than me or any of us here today, we can still work together to come up with a better solution. You know it is not always about being so left or so right. Like sometimes you have to be in the middle to find a solution. I think many do not realize that.”

USA: Enough! A Million Students Walk Out of Schools to Demand Action on Guns in Historic Day of Action

.DISARMAMENT & SECURITY.

An article from Democracy Now (reprinted according to terms of Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License)

In a historic day of action, more than a million students from over 3,000 schools walked out of classes to protest gun violence on Wednesday [March 14]. Walkouts occurred in all 50 states as well as some schools overseas. The nationwide student walkouts occurred one month after 17 students and staff were shot dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. At many schools, students walked out for 17 minutes—one minute for each person murdered in Parkland. The students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are now organizing a massive March for Our Lives on March 24 in Washington, and solidarity marches are planned across the country. We air moments from marches in New York and talk with Luna Baez and Citlali Mares, two students in Denver, Colorado, who helped organize their school’s walkout for gun reform Wednesday.


Video on Democracy Now website

Transcript

NERMEEN SHAIKH: In a historic day of action, more than a million students from over 3,000 schools walked out of classes to protest gun violence on Wednesday. Walkouts occurred in all 50 states, as well as some schools overseas. This was the scene outside one school here in New York City.

PROTESTERS: No guns, no violence! No guns, no violence! No guns, no violence! No guns, no violence! No guns, no violence! No guns, no violence! No guns, no violence!

CHELSEA: My name is Chelsea. I go to the High School of Fashion Industries. And today we’re here to protest against what happened at Parkland. We’re here to stop gun violence in schools and everywhere.

PROTESTERS: I’m a student, not a target! I’m a student, not a target! I’m a student, not a target! I’m a student, not a target!

LAURA RICHMOND: My name is Laura Richmond. I go to High School of Fashion Industries. And we’re here protesting gun violence all across America. Guns don’t solve problems, they create problems. And obviously, as you can see, we all feel strongly about this. This is something that’s been going on for far too long. And if people—if adults aren’t going to take action, we need to take action.

PROTESTERS: No guns, no violence! No guns, no violence! No guns, no violence! No guns, no violence!

KAYLA CONCEPCION: My name is Kayla Concepcion. I go to the High School of Fashion Industries. We are protesting to disarm the NRA and the mass school shootings that has happened across the country. It has to end now. And it starts with every school protesting. And we are here today to stop this shooting! Today! Every school should walk out right now and go and protest!

PROTESTERS: Disarm the NRA! Disarm the NRA! Disarm the NRA! Disarm the NRA! Disarm the NRA!

AMY GOODMAN: The nationwide student walkouts occurred one month after 17 students and faculty were shot dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. At many schools, students walked out for 17 minutes—one minute for each person murdered in Parkland. The students at Majory Stoneman Douglas High School are now organizing a massive March for Our Lives on March 24th in Washington, D.C. Democracy Now! will be there, broadcasting live the entire march. Solidarity marches are planned for across the country. In Brooklyn, New York, a walkout occurred at Edward R. Murrow High School.

ANASTASIA BEIRNE-MEYER: We are standing here today, halting our education to show that we will not be living in fear of a school shooter. We will not be next. We will not sit in our classrooms wondering why Congress is not working as hard as we are. We will not overlook the fact that it is the students’ responsibility to speak out against the dangers of guns. And I’m not just talking about mass shootings. I’m talking about the militarization of our law enforcement and the normalization of these weapons in our communities. We will not let our future be dictated by the millions of dollars from the National Rifle Association that prevent stronger gun laws.

AMY GOODMAN: We begin today’s show in Denver, Colorado, where we’re joined by two organizers of a student walkout at Kunsmiller Creative Arts Academy in Denver, Colorado. We’re joined by Lali Mares and Luna Baez. Luna is the daughter of the undocumented activist Jeanette Vizguerra, who’s one of the founders of the Metro Denver Sanctuary Coalition. Jeanette Vizguerra took refuge, sanctuary, in Denver, but now is now out, because there is a private bill that protects her.
Luna Baez and Lali Mares, we welcome you both to Democracy Now! Luna, let’s begin with you. Talk about what happened yesterday at your middle school.

LUNA BAEZ: What happened yesterday at our middle school was we walked out in support of better gun laws and for the 17 that fell during the Parkland school shooting.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: You talk about what kind of response you and Luna received when you started to organize this protest. What did teachers and students at your school say to you?

CITLALI MARES: Some of our teachers were very hesitant about the walkout. A lot of them supported us, but we knew that there are some that weren’t going to be able to help us to the maximum we needed. And then the students felt like it was very important, and it was important for them to walk out with us, because they knew that it affected them in a very big way.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And what about your school principal and other school administrators?

CITLALI MARES: We didn’t hear much about our principal. Our vice principal was out there while we were walking out. So, it was good to have that kind of support while we were there.

AMY GOODMAN: Luna, can you talk about why you chose to be one of the organizers of this protest? And what grade are you in?

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Question related to this article:

Do you think handguns should be banned?, Why or why not?

(continued from left column)

LUNA BAEZ: I am in eighth grade. And the reason I chose to be one of the organizers was because from what I know. Me and Lali had a bit more experience than the other children—

AMY GOODMAN: In organizing?

LUNA BAEZ: —and the other students. Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: And would you say that experience comes from organizing around your mom, Jeanette Vizguerra?

LUNA BAEZ: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: And do you see these issues as linked? Can you talk about your mom just for a few minutes? I visited her in Denver at the Unitarian Church, where she had taken sanctuary, before she was able to come out because she’s protected by a bill that was passed in Congress.

LUNA BAEZ: So, I would say it would be linked, because my experience with media and all things related to that are from my mom’s process.

AMY GOODMAN: And, Lali, why did you choose to help organize this student walkout? And what demands are you making of President Trump, of Congress, of the NRA?

CITLALI MARES: I chose to organize, to help organize the walkout because I knew that this wouldn’t just affect us as a school, it would affect everyone in the United States and out of the United States, because this is something that’s bigger. And with a bigger group of students, it can allow us to create a bigger impact.

And I would just want the president to pass something that says that we can—we have better laws about guns, not necessarily taking away the guns, but nobody needs that type of weapon in their house, where somebody who doesn’t need that has it in their hands and something like Parkland can happen.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Lali, how many students participated from your school in the walkout? Were you surprised by how many did or how many didn’t?

CITLALI MARES: Yes, we expected maybe 20, 25, 30. We didn’t expect that big of a group, and we thought it would just be eighth graders walking out with us. As Luna and I were walking the halls, we noticed that high schoolers were joining some of the sixth and seventh graders. So, I would say about 70, 80. It wasn’t a big a—like a big size, but it was large for us as our first walkout.

AMY GOODMAN: And, of course, 2,000 Denver-area students also walked out all over, many marching to the state Capitol. I want to thank Luna Baez and Citlali Mares for joining us from Kunsmiller Creative Arts Academy in Denver, as we go back to more voices from the nationwide student walkout on Wednesday.

PROTESTERS: No more silence! End gun violence! No more silence! End gun violence!

AHRIANA MERRYWEATHER: All these people have come together today so that they can express how they feel about gun violence and all these things and how kids don’t feel safe in their schools, which is the one place we should feel safe, because that’s where we spend most of our time.

REEM ARAJAI: I hope that the president will step up, stop accepting money from the NRA, because if all of the deaths that have occurred aren’t enough to convince him, then I guess it just has to be us protesting right now.

SIMONE HICKS: If you can protect guns this much and don’t have the same regard for the people who are going to create your country in the future, then we’re in trouble. The kids are the future. If you’re not protecting the kids, then what’s left?

PROTESTERS: I call BS! I call BS! I call BS!

NUPOL KIAZOLU: My name is Nupol Kiazolu. I’m 17 years old, and I’m president of the Youth Coalition for Black Lives Matter New York. I’m out here also because I lost my father to gun violence, and I lost many family members and friends to gun violence. Gun violence is not a new issue. It affects our communities every single day, and it affects black and Latino communities disproportionately. I came here to give honor to those 17 lives that were lost, because those people were heroes. But we don’t need any more martyrs. We need justice. And that starts here and now.

PROTESTER 1: This is about people—gay, straight, black, white, religious, nonreligious—coming together so their kids don’t have to be afraid to go to school.

CAROLINA THOMAS: Hi. My name’s Carolina Thomas, and I’m 12 years old. And I’m here today because I’m sick and tired of hearing that someone has died at school innocently. I am sick and tired of hearing that someone has been killed at school while learning how to read or write. Why are we fighting for something that the adults should be fighting for? Why are we here marching and walking out of school, when the people of Congress should be protecting us?

PROTESTER 2: It makes sense to me that the only problem is the guns. Get rid of the guns, get rid of the violence. We have the most guns than any country on the face of this world. We’re the richest country that’s ever existed on the planet, and we can’t deal with these issues? It doesn’t make any sense.

PROTESTERS: Donald Trump, Mike Pence, gun control is common sense! Donald Trump, Mike Pence, gun control is common sense!

MARIA LOPEZ: As students, we’re here uniting our voices to advocate for like more stricter gun laws and for a safer school environment, because that’s why we come here. We come here for an education, and we don’t come here to be worrying, “Am I going to go home or not?”

JOEY ZARATE: In order to get our stronger message across, we needed to hold it here, where everyone gets to hear that we are together, we are one, we are with Florida. At the end of the day, we just want our schools to be safe and never be shot up again. That’s why we say, “Never again.”

PROTESTERS: Enough is enough! Enough is enough! Enough is enough!

PROTESTER 3: We grow guns. We place them in the hands of Americans and say, “Go play.” The inevitable senseless violence that follows is succeeded by senseless silence.

AMY GOODMAN: Voices from the nationwide student walkout on Wednesday. It’s estimated about a million people walked out, not only in the United States, but calling for gun control all over the world, in solidarity with the students at Parkland.

This is Democracy Now! We’ll be in Washington, D.C., on March 24th, covering the March for Our Lives, organizing the student survivors of Parkland, organizing around the Valentine’s Day massacre, calling for comprehensive gun control.

This is Democracy Now! When we come back, we go to Alabama to hear about another school shooting, just a few weeks after Parkland, that hasn’t gotten anything like the attention of what happened in Florida. Stay with us.

‘It’s Time To Take Action’: Students Lead Protest to Change Gun Laws

.DISARMAMENT & SECURITY.

Excerpts from an article by Cindy Long for the National Education Association

There’s a new face on the age-old gun debate: our students, and they won’t be silenced. They are demanding that the adults in power keep them safe and they will not stand by and allow elected officials to fail them any longer.


Click on photo to enlarge

As of Feb. 14, just a month and a half into the new year, a total of 20 people have been killed and more than 30 have been injured in shootings at American elementary, middle, and high schools. Only weeks earlier at Marshall County High School in Kentucky two students were killed by a 15-year old shooter who left fourteen others wounded and all traumatized perhaps for the rest of their lives. . . .

Organizing for School and Student Safety

Nationwide, students and activists have joined their rallying cry and have organized two upcoming events — the National School Walkout on March 14 and the March for Our Lives on March 24. NEA will also participate in another event, a National Day of Action on April 20, the anniversary of the Columbine shooting.

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Question related to this article:

Do you think handguns should be banned?, Why or why not?

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March 14th – the Women’s March has announced a National School Walkout in which school communities will walk out of their schools for 17 minutes to honor the lives lost in Parkland. NEA will join with AFT in encouraging educators throughout the country to wear orange on this day.

March 24th – Several students who survived the tragedy at Parkland have called for a student-led march and protest. They will travel to Washington, DC, and meet with politicians on the need to address gun violence and are encouraging others to join. This is a fully student-planned march. More information can be found at marchforourlives.com.

April 20 – NEA and its members are joining with the National Public Education Network, American Federation of Teachers, Moms Demand Action, Everytown for Gun Safety, Giffords: Courage to Fight Gun Violence, and other national organizations, to take action against gun violence on April 20 together in a way that sends a strong message to policy makers that #enoughisenough.

“We demand a plan that will keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of dangerous people,” says NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. “Only the United States has such a long, long, long list of mass public murders by a lone gunman. The reason is simple. Our laws allow dangerous people to easily purchase military-style, rapid-fire assault weapons. That’s the only difference. That’s what we need to fix. Thoughts and prayers will not prevent the next tragedy. People rising up will.”

NEA is asking educators nationwide to share their ideas and information on events in their school communities. Visit our National Day of Action site.

Editor’s note: The National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) are the largest trade unions of teachers in the United States with 3 million and 1.6 million members respectively. They have consistently opposed NRA demands to arm teachers, and the AFT has once again expressed its opposition in the last few days.

First National Bank dumps NRA, will no longer issue NRA Visa card

.DISARMAMENT & SECURITY.

An article from Think Progress

For more than a decade, the First National Bank of Omaha has offered special branded Visa cards to National Rifle Association members to support the group. On Thursday, following two days of public pressure, the bank announced it “will not renew its contract” with the NRA.


Click on image to enlarge
(Note: Since this image was first published by Think Progress, most of the corporations have ended their relationship.)

The bank confirmed, in a tweet, that “customer feedback caused” the decision:

On Tuesday, ThinkProgress reported  that First National Bank was one of at least 22 corporations that the NRA says offer incentives to NRA members. The bank and its parent company did not respond to repeated inquires about whether last week’s horrific mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida, would cause it to reconsider its relationship with the group leading the charge to oppose gun violence prevention efforts.

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Question related to this article:

Do you think handguns should be banned?, Why or why not?

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But less than 24 hours later, ThinkProgress spotted that the website advertising the “official credit card of the NRA” had mysteriously vanished, with an error message appearing in its place.

Neither the bank nor Visa responded to repeated ThinkProgress inquiries about the disappearance, but the bank did respond on Twitter, to many outraged customers, many of whom threatened to cancel their accounts  because of the relationship.

First National Bank is the first of the corporations to officially end its relationship with the NRA in the aftermath of Parkland.

There are still at least 21 corporations  with ongoing relationships with the NRA.

Editor’s note: Since this article was published, a number of these other corporations have stopped their relationship with the NRA, including Enterprise, Alamo and National, as well as Hertz and Avis car rentals. However, the NRA continues its own publicity, assailing the media and calling for the arming of teachers, a position supported by President Trump.

State Of The City: We’re The Resistance (New Haven, CT, USA)

. . TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY . .

A article by by Markeshia Ricks in the New Haven Independent

A week after President Trump delivered his State of the Union Address, Mayor Toni Harp delivered a “state of the city” address that put New Haven squarely in the camp of the anti-Trump “resistance.”

In front of a full aldermanic chamber at City Hall, Harp painted a picture of a city resistant to Trump’s vision for America, resistant to Connecticut’s cities-vs.-suburbs mentality, and resistant to any notion that New Haven isn’t a city on the rise. She borrowed a word — “resistance” — that has become a phrase for local movements across the country formed to oppose the current administration in Washington.


Video of Mayor’s speech

A year ago, Harp said, no one could have predicted that “we would be dealing with such a dramatically altered political, social, and economic landscape.”

“In that context, tonight, I would describe the state of New Haven as resistant to these frightening trends in this nation toward what would be a new normal -–  a Republic, a state, and a civic life so different as to be unrecognizable to most of us,” she said. “New Haven is resistant to these would-be, new standards not for the sake of being contrary, and not because it’s stylish or politically correct to be, but because these new standards are contrary to the best interests of this city, its residents, and its future.”

Harp said that New Haven continues to offer a hand to its residents even though there is “a trend in some government circles to neglect or abandon the aged, the vulnerable, and those who simply can’t keep up.

“Social services for veterans, the elderly, the formerly incarcerated, the homeless, the disabled, the addicted, and the mentally ill seem to fall increasingly on the shoulders of local providers, as federal and state support dwindles,” she said. “Going forward, New Haven must resist the temptation to follow suit: in my opinion, a community is measured by the care it provides for those who cannot provide – or speak up – for themselves. Tonight, I’m pleased to say that in this regard, New Haven continues to measure up.”

Harp said all of the progress that New Haven has made “reflects an undeniable collaboration.”

“In New Haven, elected officials, city workers, residents, volunteers, students, immigrants, and a host of other city partners make this a vibrant, attractive city, committed to its better days ahead. New Haven is resistant – and will continue to resist – a laundry list of frightful trends in America,” she said. “Perhaps most frightening among them is a deliberate attempt by some in this nation to deny benefits of the American dream—safety, security, education, healthcare, opportunity — to any number of Americans for completely arbitrary and unjustifiable reasons.

Harp said New Haven has “resisted” by rallying to the side of displaced Puerto Ricans with ongoing aid and relocation assistance; by partnering with Bridgeport in a long shot but, alas, failed bid for Amazon’s second North American headquarters; and by creating a favorable climate for development that is starting to pay dividends downtown and beyond. She also noted that since she took office New Haven’s unemployment rate has dropped from 10.3 percent to 5.1 percent.

“This city continues to resist any notion that big ideas are too much to handle in challenging times,” she said. “The new Boathouse at Canal Dock, a major redesign for the rest of Long Wharf, and continuing progress on Downtown Crossing reaffirm this. Phase 2 of Downtown Crossing will get started this year, continuing the process of stitching back together parts of town that were unduly separated generations ago.”

“As I complete my assessment of New Haven this year, and as I assess the state of other cities nearby and frankly, across the nation, there isn’t a city I envy, there isn’t a city I’d rather serve as mayor, and there isn’t a community of people I’d rather be with as we tackle a daunting agenda under these current, challenging circumstances,” she concluded.

(Article continued in the right column)

Questions related to this article:

The post-election fightback for human rights, is it gathering force in the USA?

(Article continued from the left column)

Alders Praise Vision, Seek Details

Several alders were getting their first taste of the mayor’s “state of the city” address as a member of the Board of Alders, and they found a lot to like.

Yale Alder Hacibey Catabasoglu said he was happy to hear about the city’s infrastructure and the improvements that have been made, such as the wifi on the Green and efforts to help small businesses. He applauded the city’s efforts to bring in companies like Goldman Sachs to teach small immigrant business owners like his father.

He added that he would have liked for Harp to talk a little bit about youth activism in the city and how their political activism helps New Haven resist.

“The youth are the ones that are going to be the decision makers and I think it would have been nice for her to touch upon that,” he said. “But overall, I thought it was a wonderful speech.”

First-term Newhallville/Prospect Hill Alder Kim Edwards said she found the mayor’s message about the state of the city to be positive and upbeat.
“We sound like a city that’s thriving,” she said. “There are many things we need to work on and we have to make sure all of our population is included in the decisions that we make daily.”

Edwards said while she knows there is much work ahead on the budget, she said she was impressed that the city has managed to cut its unemployment rate nearly in half.

“We need to keep on that trend and we need to make sure that they are living wage jobs,” she said. “We live in a high tax state. So we need to not just use the words living wage. They actually need to be living wage jobs.”

Downtown Alder Abigail Roth said listening to Mayor Harp Monday night reminded her of how proud she is of the Elm City. “I liked her theme of a city that’s resistant, especially with the state of our country today,” said Roth, who attended one of the original “resistance” events, a D.C women’s march coinciding with Trump’s first inauguration weekend. “It feels good to be in a city where people’s values align with mine and the mayor’s values on so many fronts.”

But like Edwards, Roth noted that the upcoming tango with the budget is on the horizon. And Harp didn’t have a lot to say about that in her address aside from mentioning the reduction of overtime in the fire department.

“If you look at the [monthly] budget reports it’s something we have to be concerned about,” Roth said. She noted, for instance,  a recent story in the Independent about a police psych-exam contract problem that is delaying the seating of an academy class and leading to increased overtime costs. She called the issue “a huge concern.” “That’s not to take away from what she said in the speech,” Roth added. “There were a lot of positive things but the city’s budget is a very serious thing that we’re going to have to focus a lot on.”

There will be time for focusing on that soon enough for Morris Cove Alder Sal DeCola, but Monday night the mayor’s speech had him focused on the positive.

“There are a lot of good things that are happening for New Haven,” he said. We’re always hearing the negative and she was talking about all of the positive things. I wish more people would focus on the positive. The bad’s always going to be there. I have this saying, ‘Every flower garden has weeds in it; look at the flowers.’ We know the weeds are there; enjoy the flowers. That’s how I look at it.”

Fair Haven Ernie Santiago saw some flowers when he heard Harp say that a sweep that helped the city assess the needs of Newhallville last year will make its way to his community.

“That was very good news,” he said. “Finally, Fair Haven is going to get its due. Now, we gotta see if it comes to fruition and how much is done because we do need a lot in Fair Haven. We’ve got the worst streets, the worst sidewalks. I feel good about hearing what I heard. She gave a good speech. It’s always good to hear they’re going to work on your ward.”
Freshman Newhallville/Prospect Hill Alder Steve Winter said he appreciated the message of resistance and believed it was needed. He also noted that he’s interested in hearing more about how the digitization of city services and other technology could help the city maintain a high level of service in a tough fiscal environment.

“With values and institutions under assault, it’s important to have our leaders and our colleagues remind us of why we have to do what we do and why you have to keep going,” he said.