A Rally & Dry Run For Immigrant Strike

Paul Bass PhotosJose Palacios joined fellow Fair Haven business owners Thursday in showing support for fellow immigrants — by hanging a “cerrado” sign on the door.

The handwritten sign at his Mariscos restaurant at 369 Grand read in full “Cerrado — Apoyando a Nuestra Raza” — or “closed in support of our people.”

Moises Ramirez, who came here from Mexico 19 years ago, showed his support by taking a day off from his job at a brake-parts factory.

The men were among dozens of New Haveners who participated in a national “day without immigrants” protest designed to demonstrate the vital role immigrants play in our economy, at a time when many of them face uncertain futures here in the wake of executive orders by President Donald Trump.

The national protest drew visible showings, boycotts and business closings in cities including Austin, Philadelphia, San Francisco and New York. New Haven saw a more ad hoc effort. It was a dry run for a bigger national version of the event planned for May 1.

About 20 local businesses closed and “several dozen” people stayed away from work, according to immigrant-rights organizer John Lugo.

The day ended with a Lugo-led rally on the front steps of City Hall designed to spread the word about the May 1 event as well as ongoing efforts to prepare immigrants for deportation raids and enlist community support for resisting them. (Click here for a full story on that.)

“We want to keep the voices of immigrants alive,” Lugo said during about a half-hour of bilingual remarks to 30 gathered demonstrators, including Moises Ramirez, as dusk fell. “The community is working together.”

He warned immigrants not to open their doors for people they don’t know, and to insist that any federal agents have judge-signed warrants with their names on them. He also urged them to keep affixed to their doors a list of precautionary steps prepared by immigrant-rights activists.

It was the third rush-hour demonstration in New Haven over the past seven days. As usual, the police had more than a dozen officers assigned to the event. They hung back, mostly in pairs, at the periphery of the crowd and across the street, barely visible but ready in case this demonstration, like many recent ones, ended with protesters marching through the streets.

“You have to have that many if they choose to walk in the street,” said Lt. Herb Sharp, who oversees patrol for the police department. “You really want to have enough officers for officer safety and to make sure the protesters are safe.”

Lugo told officers before the event started that he wasn’t sure if it would end with a march.

In addition to the 15 officers paired off at a distance but within view of City Hall, another two cops were a block away in case counter-demonstrators were to emerge bent on causing a provocation, another common deployment in this season of perpetual protest.

“I’ve never seen so many protests,” Sharp, who has been on the force 20 years, said while deep-chilling across the street. “It’s going to be a tough year.”

When Lugo finished speaking around 5:40, he and the group decided to fold up their banners.

“It’s cold,” he noted with a smile. And officers went off to other assignments.

The Price Of Protest

Lucy Gellman PhotoUnlike Thursday night’s protest, the two prior ones led officers to close downtown streets during rush hour, delaying people’s commutes home and engendering some complaints.

Police spokesman Officer David Hartman said the thrice-weekly or more protests since Trump’s inauguration have hampered cops’ ability to address crime in the rest of town. He also said they have set back taxpayers, disrupted citizens’ lives, and harmed local commerce.

Over the last eight or nine recent protests, police have spent at least $1,651 on staffing — and usually much more.

That figure represents a three-hour protest where organizers have worked with police in advance and don’t steer the crowd in unplanned directions, Hartman said. It covers nine patrol officers who earn just under $33 an hour, as well as two sergeants and two lieutenants (earning roughly $36 and $41 an hour, respectively); at least two mobile patrols (often detectives at around $35 an hour), and often as many as six, scouring nearby streets for possible counterprotesters; and a sergeant spending three hours in the detail room at $36 an hour arranging new assignments.

Hartman said that doesn’t count when officers end up having to work overtime. Or when, as occurred on the night of President Trump’s inauguration, the protesters suddenly change the course of the march. Or when civil disobedience occurs. Or when the protests run long.

“If you consider 60 officers are supposed to patrolling city streets, if you take 15 of them away — that cuts your manpower down to three quarters of what it should be,” Hartman said. “That’s a significant — imagine 15 cops calling in sick on almost a daily basis. That’s what the rest of the city is dealing with.”

Cops are taking longer to respond to other calls as a result, he said. And he is fielding complaints daily from people having trouble mired in standstill rush-hour traffic and businesses reporting that customers can’t make it to their stores.

“People do have a right to protest. People also have a right to go about their daily lives and not be interrupted,” Hartman said. And “it’s hurting commerce.“

“We live in a democracy. We cherish our constitutional rights, including our First Amendment rights to freedom of expression. If fighting for what we believe in and engaging in peaceful acts is something that people frown upon — then we question where we are as a society in terms of our embrace of our democratic principals,” responded organizer Kica Matos when asked about criticism over the costs and inconveniences of this month’s protests.

Matos was arrested in an act of civil disobedience while blocking the intersection of College and Elm Streets last Friday afternoon in a demonstration in favor of changing the name of Yale’s Calhoun College.

“I’ve lived in this city for 16 years,” Matos said. “I pay my taxes like everybody else. I am not a public burden on the city of New Haven. What I was doing was something that I felt was necessary, overdue, and something that deeply hurts and impacts people of color in this community. This is democracy! We are living in a time when our democratic principles are being challenged. I think we cherish our democracy, and we should do everything we can to exercise our constitutional rights, of which free expression is one.”

“Crime was still affecting the community” before the recent wave of marches, Lugo said. “What happened then?”

He said that “we really need these marches” as “this administration starts attacking our community.”

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posted by: Dean Moriarty on February 17, 2017  1:26am

“Police spokesman Officer David Hartman said the thrice-weekly or more protests since Trump’s inauguration have hampered cops’ ability to address crime in the rest of town. He also said they have set back taxpayers, disrupted citizens’ lives, and harmed local commerce”

That, very clearly stated, is the problem here.  Residents (i.e. taxpayers) have just as much right to their expectations for the city services they pay for as any protesters do.  People who don’t subscribe to the same tenets have jobs they need to get to, banking they need to conduct and children to feed after their workday.  To interrupt these citizen’s routines is at best pompous, at worst, criminal.

I grow tired of hearing how this is directed at immigrants.  Bottom line is that immigrants have always been and are still welcomed into this country.  ILLEGAL immigrants are not.  What could be clearer?

posted by: Anonymouse99 on February 17, 2017  5:54am

As a New Haven homeowner I’m getting fed up.  I support a more liberal immigration policy but who exactly is going to be stuck covering the loss in funds if our insane President actually pulls funds from sanctuary cities like New Haven? An educated guess says the homeowners and business owners.  And on top of that the already quality of life policing is getting a backseat to protesting what exactly? The supportive taxpayers of New Haven and the supportive mayor.

These groups really need to rethink their local strategies because it really is having the opposite effect.

posted by: alphabravocharlie on February 17, 2017  9:28am

The issue isn’t immigration, it’s illegal immigration. It’s about the right of a society to protect its borders and provide for its collective security, a basic function of government. It’s about people being able to live in dignity without cowering in fear at every knock on the door.

It’s funny how Lugo and Matos selectively quote the laws which advance their position and flaunt others. You can’t have it both ways.

posted by: wendy1 on February 17, 2017  9:31am

If the police choose to babysit our demos, that’s their problem.  By the way I fully support them in their fight for better wages and benefits—new contract coming up.

Adam Gopnik said in the New Yorker this week—-Opposing bad govt. with loud speech, unashamed argument, and public demonstration is NOT the part that’s off the normal grid:  it’s the pro- American part, exactly what the Constitution foresees and protects.  DISSENT is not courageous or exceptional.  IT IS NORMAL—-it’s Madisonian, it’s Hamiltonian.  I’TS WHAT WE ARE SUPPOSED TO DO.

I will freeze with my allies and Latino friends in any demo out there.  The USA is having a serious pyschic episode.  Thi s is a battle for our integrity and our lives.  Dont complain, join us.

posted by: 3jan46 on February 17, 2017  10:08am

To:  Anonymouse99
Key words “insane President”
We are doomed unless the PTB in DC come to their senses.

posted by: wendy1 on February 17, 2017  12:21pm

I meant pyschotic episode.

posted by: NewHaven06512 on February 17, 2017  1:53pm

Once they step into the street without a permit they are breaking the law.  Arrest them, fine them and as part of it order restitution be paid for the costs expended.  12 officers being tied up babysitting puts the rest of the city insufficiently covered.

they have already shown, they cant be counted on to abide by the law when protesting so they, as do the bars and other events in town, should share the cost of the manpower.

posted by: wendy1 on February 17, 2017  4:09pm

06512 you dont need a permit——we have the first amendment And if you agree with me that police babysitters are a waste, complain to the police and the mayor.

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on February 17, 2017  8:00pm

Dean Moriarty and Alphabravocharlie, the executive order would have barred people from the seven countries who were here legally from re-entering the country. An Iraqi-American with a green card or a Syrian with a valid student visa who went home for a family funeral would not be allowed to re-enter the U.S., regardless of how long they had lived here.

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on February 17, 2017  8:45pm

I wonder if it would not be more effective to protest and march in front of Congress, or in front of the homes of representatives for Congress and the CT State House. It seems like the recent efforts, so far, have only managed to annoy people and discourage local support for the movement where they might otherwise be more likely to lend their support if different tactics were used. For instance, I know a couple people that are very good at posting information on Facebook and emailing about specific bills, appointments, and legislative motions being voted on along with contact information for the relevant representatives so that people can make their voices heard.

Those latter tactics might lend not only greater support but more substantive change in the long-run. Additionally, for those that are not easily reached through the internet, perhaps a door-to-door campaign or sidewalk greeters that calmly engage people in thoughtful conversation about important political initiatives and specific information about what one can do to participate (like contacting representatives, voting, and informing one’s self on relevant topics through reliable resources).

posted by: Ben203 on February 17, 2017  10:15pm

You know who is not paying fair-share of taxes? YALE. and All the students who come in and abuse common NHV residents!

posted by: Statestreeter on February 17, 2017  11:00pm

Once again WENDY 1 you’re wrong. And the first amendment doesn’t give anyone the rite to break the law. Read the clear ordinances of the city and hopefully the cops will read them to and stop wasting our money entertaining these illegal gatherings.  Arrest them, set bail and let them spend a few nights in the whalley ave jail. That way it’s not a joke anymore. And here’s some friendly advice. It’s better to say nothing and let them think your a fool then to speak and let them know you are one!

Sec. 29-11. - Regulation of parades, processions.

No person or persons shall parade or participate in any parade, procession, or public display, upon any public street or streets in the city, without first obtaining a written permit so to do from the mayor of the city, or the chief of police thereof, and without first paying a fee as set out in section 17-20 of this Code. Such permit shall designate the approximate number of persons or vehicles to participate or be in said parade, procession or public display, and shall further specify the route to be taken by such parade, procession, or public display, and the time when such parade, procession, or public display shall stop; and the mayor of said city shall have the power to make regulations for the safe and orderly passage of such parade, procession, or public display within the city, and may forbid the operation of vehicles upon the streets during such time as parades, processions, or public displays are to take place, which regulations shall be published in one or more newspapers of said city at least twenty-four (24) hours before such regulations are to become effective; and shall be enforced by the police department in the same manner as the ordinances of the city. No circus parade shall be held on the streets, highways and thoroughfares of said city on Sunday or the day known as Memorial Day.

posted by: Statestreeter on February 17, 2017  11:04pm

Part 2

Sec. 29-9. - Pedestrians crossing streets.

At any intersection where traffic is controlled by traffic signals and pedestrian “walk” and “don’t walk” signals or devices, clearly visible and legible, no pedestrian shall cross the highway during the period of time when the “don’t walk” signal or device shall be showing unless otherwise directed by a police officer:

When the “walk” signal or device is showing, pedestrians may cross the highway only at the marked or unmarked crosswalks and shall not cross between diagonal corners of the intersection.
Pedestrians shall only cross a street or highway at an intersection or at such other places between intersections as have been established as crosswalks and are so marked and posted.
Any pedestrian violating any provision of this section, or who shall wilfully fail to obey the signal or any police officer, shall be subject to the penalties as provided by section 14-314 of the General Statutes of Connecticut, Revision of 1958.

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on February 18, 2017  11:35am

I should add that the above protest idea (a day long strike essentially for immigrant workers) seems like a great idea that may show the general public how dependent the functioning of our modern day society and many of the conveniences we take for granted are based on the labor and entrepreneurial spirit of immigrant communities. This type of protest may prove to be much more effective than chanting slogans at already left-leaning New Haveners, shutting down streets, and eliciting arrest. Hopefully everyone takes proper precaution so as to not lose one’s job.

posted by: 1644 on February 18, 2017  11:42am

Kevin, yes, the order was originally interpreted by airlines and frontline officers to bar entry by green card holders.  However, within hours, John Kelley said that permanent resident aliens and holders of special immigrant visas were among those whom it was considered in the national interest to admit.  According to Kelly, this was always the intent.  From what I recall of the news conference, this exception would not have applied to holders of student or other visas. Note: SIV’s are issued to those who worked for the US government as translators or in another capacity.  Under Bush, up to 500 of these visas could be issued annually.  This number was lowered to 50 under Obama.

posted by: mikewestpark on February 18, 2017  1:11pm

I think we are focusing the energy toward this problem in the wrong manner.  Why don’t we focus our energy on something more productive and less controversial, such as streamlining the pathway to citizenship.  Protesting police raids on illegal immigration will not grow your support base for your cause inasmuch as most people are completely polarized on this issue at this point.  If your opposition’s position is that they have no issue with immigration but have strong feelings about people who have been here quite some time but have not become legal citizens, then it would make sense to protest the bureaucracy behind the pathway to citizenship rather than protest ICE raids.  Cure the disease, not the symptoms.  I was attempting to help a man who worked for me get citizenship.  He was here from Mexico for the last 20 years.  It would’ve cost me almost $7,000 and 2 years to complete the process.  In that time, the stress of minimal work and being away from his family resulted in desperation and a felony charge against him which ended his citizenship dreams.  I know this man well enough that his desperation, which was the root cause of his crime, wouldn’t have happened if the employment opportunities that legal citizenship provides were available to him.  It cost me around $200 and took the federal government, state of Connecticut and City of New Haven to do a background check on me and approve me for a concealed carry pistol permit.  In my mind the background check for both should be the same amount of “extreme vetting”  (at least one would hope) so why the difference in cost and time?  That what we should be protesting!

posted by: 1644 on February 18, 2017  11:20pm

Mike, while some of the hostility to immigrants is, as always, the reluctance of immigrants to assimilate sufficiently (e.g., learn english, cheer for the US soccer team, etc.) much is simply based on a firm belief in the rule of law.  Simply put, those who came or remained here illegally should not be allowed to stay, and certainly not given a path to citizenship, because to do so would be to reward law-breaking.  It is this principle upon which most efforts at “immigration reform” have foundered.  Thus, there is an unbridgeable gap between those who feel justice should be tempered with mercy, and those who believe justice requires dispassionate application of the law.