Protesters Crash City Hall

Paul Bass PhotoForty immigrant-rights activists brought complaints about the arrest of a wage-theft protester to the mayor’s office on Thanksgiving Eve—and refused to leave in what became an extended stand-off.

The protest began outside City Hall shortly after 4 p.m. Members of Unidad Latina en Accion/ New Haven Workers Association gathered to air complaints about the arrest last Friday night of organizer John Lugo outside Goodfellas, a mob-themed restaurant on State Street. The group has been picketing the restaurant for months over allegations of wage theft and harassment of immigrant workers, the subject of a current civil suit. After a patron complained about the noisy protest last Friday, officers arrested Lugo on interfering and disorderly conduct charges. Protesters called the arrests a violation of their First Amendment rights as well as of the city’s commitment to joining them in cracking down on employers who abuse immigrant workers. (Read more about the arrest further, and watch a video of it, further down in the story. Goodfellas has denied the allegations.)

“Let’s go inside to talk to [Mayor] Toni Harp!” Lugo (pictured) exhorted the crowd.

So up the crowd marched upstairs ...

... and into the waiting room of Harp’s suite. Officers asked the organizers to turn off the bullhorn. The organizers complied.

But they didn’t keep quiet. “We want to talk to the mayor,” Lugo told mayoral spokesman Laurence Grotheer, who greeted them.

“The mayor is in a meeting. Do you have an appointment?” asked Grotheer (at right in photo). “We live in New Haven,” Lugo responded. To which Grotheer replied, “Everyone in New Haven is welcome to make an appointment.” With two police officers standing quietly nearby inside the office, and another half-dozen outside in the City Hall atrium, that exchange repeated itself with slight variations maybe a dozen more times. Protesters insisted that Harp should come out and tell them she’ll meet with them in the future, or that Grotheer give them a specific time and date for an appointment. Grotheer insisted that she was busy and that “it’s not practical for people to come in without an appointment to interrupt meetings that are taking place.” In between, the two sides argued about whether Police Chief Dean Esserman should have eaten dinner recently at Goodfellas.

“We’re not moving,” declared Claudina Lara.

City Community Services Administrator Martha Okafor entered and tried a different tack. “This is coercion,” she argued. “You cannot coerce a dialogue. If every group comes here and requires the mayor to come out, she could not do her job. She thinks your group is improtant. The reason you are here is coercion by someone else [at Goodfellas].” Now, she argued, the protesters were being coercive. She promised to secure the group an appointment. “I am the CSA,” she said. “I cannot hide. Monday you will hear from me personally.”

The protesters didn’t budge. Several had brought children, like Eliazer Roldero and Josue Miguel, who settled in chairs to play video games.

“Our turkeys are defrosting. So we’re in good shape,” remarked organizer Joseph Foran.

Emily Gallagher spoke up about having worked at Goodfellas from 2005 to 2007. Even back then workers were filing complaints with the state over unpaid wages, including for overtime. Gallagher filed one of the complaints with the state Department of Labor and won her wages in a settlement. Now, she said, she wanted to support current employees in their similar complaints.

“We need to make a decision,” Lugo announced at 5:16 p.m. Should the crowd leave for the next planned event, protesting outside Goodfellas? Or, Lugo asked, “How many want to stay” in the mayor’s office? Most hands shot up for the latter option.

The protest was now officially a sit-in ...

... for another 20 minutes. Then Karim Calle announced that Grotheer had just told her the staff had found an opening for the group to meet with Mayor Harp next Wednesday at 10 a.m. The protesters had the victory they could claim to move on to Goodfellas. “I hope to see all of you here,” Calle said. “Do you guys want to go boycott Goodfellas with bullhorns?”

Triumphant, the crowd voted with its feet, marching down the stairs ...

... and reassembling on State Street outside the restaurant. Some 30 protesters remained, marching, chanting in call and response while diners slipped through to enter: “Goodfellas!” “Pay your workers!” They also put the cops on notice that they were ready to get arrested again for using the bullhorn. Sgt. David Guliuzza went inside the restaurant, where, he said, the management told him it didn’t plan to lodge a complaint. “Let them peacefully protest,” Guliuzza said he was told. (The manager on duty declined comment to the Independent.)

Lugo, meanwhile, upped the volume, undisturbed by another police supervisor keeping his distance.

“I dare you to call the police again!” Lugo called through the bullhorn toward the restaurant. “We are ready to get arrested again. You are criminals! You are going down!” The protesters remained for another half-hour, then went home. Without anyone getting arrested this time.

An earlier version of this story follows:

Lugo Arrested At Goodfellas Protest

An immigrant-rights organizer is accusing police of backtracking on their commitment to fight wage theft in the wake of his arrest at a protest.

Police arrested the organizer, John Lugo of Unidad Latina en Accion/ New Haven Workers Association, last Friday night on charges of disorderly conduct and interfering with a police officer outside the mob-themed Goodfella steakhouse on State Street.

Accompanied by fellow protesters, Lugo used a bullhorn to urge customers to boycott the restaurant because of accusations that it has harassed and failed to pay its immigrant workers, the subject of a lawsuit filed by Yale law students.

The group has staged weekly sidewalk protests outside Goodfellas since the spring without incident. (Activists also targeted the restaurant in 2011.)

This time officers arrested Lugo after receiving a complaint about the protest.

The group captured the arrest on video, which you can click on above to watch.

“We have been here for five months,” Lugo told the arresting officer. He said he had a right to protest.

“We had people complaining,” Officer Justin Cole responded. “Just as you have the right to protest, they have the right to eat dinner” in quiet.

Police spokesman David Hartman said the complaint came not from Goodfellas management, but from a man who came to eat at the restaurant with his wife.

“Since arriving, [the complainant] had heard the protesters make loud and excessive noise outside,” according to the police report. “The complainant found the use of megaphones to be offensive due to he and his wife not being able to enjoy their evening in peace. The complainant explained that his wife felt uncomfortable exiting 702 State St. due to the protesters standing in front of the exit.”

Hartman said Lugo was charged with interfering for “pulling away” from the officer who tried to question him at the scene. “He pulled away. You don’t have the right to do that,” Hartman said. “You don’t have to talk to them. You don’t have the right to physically pull away. You can not answer anything you want. You do not have the right to leave when you are the subject of the investigation. When the officer grabbed him by the arm, he pulls his arm back and almost strikes a child behind him.”

Hartman said the disorderly conduct charge was not specifically tied to the noise level, but rather to the general disruption the protest caused the diners: “You’re not allowed to disturb people. That is creating annoyance and alarm. That is disturbing the peace.”

Hartman said it’s not illegal to use a bullhorn at a protest unless it exceeds the levels detailed in the health department’s noise ordinance, which is “about the sound of a washing machine.” But in this case, “the issue was not the megaphone. It was about disturbing the peace of the” diners, Hartman said.

Lugo denied interfering with the officers.

He was released with a promise to appear. He said he plans to plead not guilty. The group plans a 4 p.m. protest Wednesday at City Hall over the arrest.

Asked how the arrest will affect his protests outside Goodfellas, Lugo responded, “I bought a bigger” bullhorn.

“We will not be silenced. We will not be intimidated. We have been picketing Goodfellas for six months. We have been picketing businesses that steal wages from workers for 10 years, and we will not stop,” ULA stated in a press release Wednesday.

“New Haven gets a lot of credit for being a welcoming and progressive city. Is New Haven a welcoming city when workers are criminalized for peaceful
protest, and wage theft goes unpunished?”

Mario Cerame, a Connecticut attorney who has written extensively on free-spech legal issues, posted in the comments section below that complaints to police from a diner about noise at a restaurant do not overcome protesters’ First Amendment right to protest wage theft loudly outside that restaurant.

The group also, on a separate night, video-recorded Police Chief Dean Esserman going in to the restaurant to eat as they confronted him. (Click above to watch.)

Esserman Wednesday said he looks forward to continuing to work with ULA to fight exploitation of immigrants.

“The New Haven police department respects the concerns of ULA and agrees to continue to work with them and listen to them regarding violations of the law with regard to wage theft,” Esserman said. “We would welcome the opportunity to sit with them again.”

Lugo’s group and Esserman’s force teamed up in the past to work with the state in seeking redress for stiffed workers from the former Gourmet Heaven (since closed and reopened under new management). Click here to read about a 2014 press conference at which cops joined ULA to vow to work together on wage theft.

Yale Law School’s Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization filed the suit on behalf of the workers, who accused Goodfellas managers of failing to pay minimum wage or overtime; and of “belittling them” with “racist, xenophobic, and homophobic slurs, and also subjected them to brutal physical working conditions,” according to a release. The suit also charges that their bosses, who have previously been cited for wage and overtime violations, “threatened and intimidated them ... to prevent them from seeking legal redress.” Goodfellas denies the allegations.

“We continue to take the position that they acted appropriately in terms of how they handled their employees,” Charles H. Tiernan, whose firm is representing Goodfellas, said Wednesday.

Post a Comment

Commenting has closed for this entry


posted by: Adelaide on November 25, 2015  11:55am

Whre is the Dept. of Labor in all of this??

posted by: markcbm on November 25, 2015  12:22pm

“When the officer grabbed him by the arm, he pulls his arm back and almost strikes a child behind him.”

Um, why did the officer feel the need to grab Lugo by the arm?  That’s not explained here.  Why the aggression?  It doesn’t sound like he was trying to evade anything.  I’d probably recoil too if an officer grabbed me for no good reason.

And then I’d probably get cuffed and slammed to the ground.  #serveandprotect

posted by: Seven-Tenths on November 25, 2015  12:33pm

Why is the police chief frequenting a restaurant that seems to celebrate mafioso culture?

posted by: ILivehere on November 25, 2015  12:35pm

Its about time the police took action. This group essentially blackmails restaurants in to paying off fired workers who have no basis for a complaint through the labor department. They tell the restaurants to pay their guy or loose twice as much from our protests. Its one thing to call attention to a problem that absolutely exists its another to blackmail someone into a settlement regardless of wrong doing.

posted by: robn on November 25, 2015  12:37pm

The 1st Amendment right to free speech and to protest is NOT unconditional. There are legal restrictions on language considered to be defamatory or inciteful. There are also time place and manner restrictions which this kind of thing falls squarely under. In any event, trying to put a dent in the restaurants business isn’t going to help their workers; documenting issues and filing a complaint with the Labor Dept might.

posted by: vc man on November 25, 2015  12:44pm

Um, why did the officer feel the need to grab Lugo by the arm?

Traditionally, when a person is being arrested, the police have to physically make contact, which might involve grabbing someone’s arm. Although it is the 21st century, technology hasn’t evolved to the point where cops can use telepathic powers to make arrests.

posted by: Noteworthy on November 25, 2015  12:51pm

If the wage theft issue was even remotely supported by documentation, this case would have been settled a long time ago and/or somebody would have been arrested. This is part of the pattern and practice of Lugo et al - allege wage theft particularly if the owner doesn’t keep good books. The owner usually loses. But in any case, Lugo should have been arrested if he’s using a bullhorn and disrupting others. All rights co-exist and there must be mutual respect, particularly for patrons of this restaurant who are not involved in any dispute with Lugo and his storm troopers.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on November 25, 2015  1:21pm

posted by: robn on November 25, 2015 11:37am

The 1st Amendment right to free speech and to protest is NOT unconditional. There are legal restrictions on language considered to be defamatory or inciteful. There are also time place and manner restrictions which this kind of thing falls squarely under. In any event, trying to put a dent in the restaurants business isn’t going to help their workers; documenting issues and filing a complaint with the Labor Dept migh

Like Gandhi, King used civil disobedience as a means of effectuating change. There were sit-ins and marches. So your point?

posted by: STANDUP on November 25, 2015  1:22pm

Where are the all the supporters for the May Internationale Workers Day parade? I am sure everyone would feel differently about this issue if the shoe was on the other foot. But,  i guess its easy telling someone their hard work should not be paid and to get over it. Do you guys work for free?

posted by: robn on November 25, 2015  2:02pm


My two points were written in my comment which you obviously didn’t read.
1) There are legal limits to protest.
2) We have a state agency set up to provide redress for workers that have been cheated.

posted by: Giving Thanks on November 25, 2015  2:17pm

Clearly the police and Dept of Labor are not enforcing the labor laws. Each time Gerry Iannaccone steals thousands of dollars from his employees, he gets a small fine, and he keeps committing the same crime. This thief has NEVER been arrested, and now police are intimidating workers who are defending their rights. Iannaccone’s criminal record:

11/6/07   CT DOL found Goodfellas guilty of stealing $9,300 (failure to pay minimum wage to 8 bartenders)

2/1/08   CT DOL found Goodfellas guilty of stealing $5,353.99 from 6 bartenders. The correct minimum wage was $7.02 and he paid $5.41.

8/13/08   CT DOL found Goodfellas guilty of stealing $786.22 from a bartender

5/28/09   CT DOL found Goodfellas guilty of stealing $402.72 from a worker who was not paid final paycheck upon termination

9/14/09   CT DOL found Goodfellas guilty of stealing $1769.18 from workers who were not paid final paycheck upon termination.

5/27/10   CT DOL found Goodfellas guilty of stealing $1,215.40 from workers who were not paid final paycheck upon termination.

These records were obtained through a Freedom of Information request covering 2006-2011. This does not include other complaints that may have been filed before 2006 or after 2011.

In addition:

April 2011   US DOL found Goodfellas guilty of stealing $23,000 from 4 workers

5/1/2015   Five former Goodfellas workers filed a federal lawsuit alleging wage theft and harassment. The lawsuit is pending.

posted by: ILivehere on November 25, 2015  2:32pm

Of course everyone should be paid for there work but the state has a process for dealing with these types of issues. This group protests restaurants with as few as one case a decade. As an example clearly there was a problem at gourmet heaven it seems like every worker there was being mistreated and so I think everyone believes the picketing action that took place there was appropriate. however when this group protests in front of places that have a single disagreement with a worker they loose all credibility and i think that’s what you are seeing here. Everyone now know that this group has an agenda they don’t care about the details of a case they just want to call attention to there issue no matter if the claim is true or false or if its being handled by the state. They just want the media attention and everyone has had enough of it.

posted by: Tierra-y-Libertad on November 25, 2015  2:38pm

These facts below might provide context for ULA’s current pickets.  Sometimes extra noise by way of peaceful public actions is needed so that the DOL, NHPD, and courts can truly advocate for our city’s most assailable and hard-working residents.  No justice, no pizza!

In 2011, Unidad Latina en Accion (ULA) obtained the following information through a Freedom of Information request to the CT Department of Labor (DOL). The CT DOL does not keep records that are more than 5 years old, so it is likely that there were even more violations in previous years.
11/6/07 CT DOL audited Goodfellas and fined owner Gennaro Iannaccone $9,300 for 31
labor law violations ($300 for each violation). These violations were: failure to
pay minimum wage to 8 bartenders and failure to keep time records for 23
2/1/08 CT DOL required Goodfellas to pay $5,353.99 to 6 bartenders who were paid less
than correct minimum wage ($7.02). Employer took improper tip credit
deduction, paying bartenders at server’s rate ($5.41). Employer failed to keep
time records for employees and failed to obtain daily tip earning statements.
8/13/08 CT DOL required Goodfellas to pay $786.22 to a worker who was not paid proper
minimum wage for bartenders and not paid final paycheck upon termination
5/28/09 CT DOL required Goodfellas to pay $402.72 to a worker who was not paid final
paycheck upon termination.

posted by: Emily G on November 25, 2015  2:43pm

It’s shameful that Gerry Iannaccone, Franco, Andrea, and the rest of the Goodfellas management/ ownership team haven’t learned their lesson: that you MUST pay ALL your workers legal wages, including overtime, shift differentials, and that all workers are entitled to their final pay regardless of how they leave. As a former employee, I can absolutely say that wage theft was universal - front of house, back of house - everyone was subject to it. Further, our paychecks would often bounce, sometimes for weeks on end. See the 2011 NHI coverage of the first boycott for more info on that.

As for the recent development with John, this is absolutely an inappropriate arrest. The purpose of protest, and civil disobedience is to create disruption, discomfort, etc. to force people to confront an unaddressed social justice issue. I’m certain its inconvenient and upsetting to eat dinner in a restaurant where picketers are outside chanting slogans about wage theft - that’s the point! If you eat there, you should be uncomfortable with your choice, you’re contributing to exploitation! I’m sure its also inconvenient to have to go weeks without your pay, or to routinely be shorted on your overtime too! To arrest John under the pretense that he’s somehow disturbing the peace is to say that any form of protest or speech that a person finds annoying or disruptive is an arrest-worthy offense. I’m sorry, that’s now the principle our nation was founded on. This arrest is bogus!

Also! As a complete aside - I find it LAUGHABLE that the police will respond to a disturbance of the peace complaint from a diner at Goodfellas, but NEVER to a serious complaint concerning unruly parties, ATVs in the road, people fighting and carrying on in the street in my neighborhood… Who do the cops work for? The residents or the Gerry Iannaccones? Looking forward to getting an answer to that last question today at 4:00.

posted by: darnell on November 25, 2015  3:18pm

No one finds this arrest disturbing and unnecessary? It seems like an abuse of power.

The arresting cops say that he is being arrested for using the bullhorn, yet the police spokesman says he wasn’t arrested for using the bullhorn but instead for stepping back when the officer grabbed him to arrest him. So, the officer looked into his crystal ball and knew that he would resist arrest, so he arrested him.

This abuse of power never ceases to amaze me and is the very reason why I participate in the political process.

posted by: Mario Cerame on November 25, 2015  3:34pm

Could government officials please—for the love of all that is good and holy please—stop. harassing. people.for the content of their speech.

@Robn—this action is based on content and viewpoint—lawful content, protected speech on a matter of public concern.  The protesters were compliant with TPM restrictions in the video and the news story (e.g. general statutes 53a-181, 182, 181a, etc.). This action infringes not only on the First Amendment, but Article 1, sections 4 and 5 of the Connecticut constitution as well.  It chills tons of speech and I am grateful to those who are courageous enough to continue to express their views, because they protect not only their own rights, but mine too.

I thought we settled this kind of nonsense by the city years ago.  Well, here we go again, I suppose.

posted by: ILivehere on November 25, 2015  4:47pm

Why would anyone find this disturbing.
There’s a guy screaming into a bullhorn. The cops get called because hes causing a public disturbance and annoying everyone.  The cops say listen you can protest just put away the bullhorn so you are not disturbing the entire neighborhood. He says no they say then you are under arrest for disturbing the peace and when they go to cuff him he pulls away and argues with them. This is exactly how its supposed to work. If he had put away the bullhorn he wouldn’t have been arrested. Its not the content of his speech its the delivery method.

This is a residential city these days people have the right to the quiet enjoyment of there property as much as people have the right to protest.

posted by: T-ski1417 on November 25, 2015  4:51pm

Looks to me initially the officer placed his hand on his arm to guide him out if the way to allow people to move about and to continue his initial investigation of breach of peace. When Lugo refused and pulled away and flailed his arms only then did Cole grab his arm. Lugo resisted and got arrested.

Seems legit to me. Just because of the climate it doesn’t mean now that you can do what you want and totally disregard orders from police.


Civil disobedience usually involves breaking the law on some level hence the word disobedience.  If Lugo was being civil and cooperative and work with the police he would have not been arrested and able to continue with his protest. 

Let me guess you expect only police to conduct themselves professionally and held to a higher standard and not the public at large?

posted by: darnell on November 25, 2015  5:03pm

@I live here
the guy screaming into the bullhorn is not breaking the law, as the police spokesman took pains to point out, hartman ““the issue was not the megaphone.”

You state that “If he had put away the bullhorn he wouldn’t have been arrested. Its not the content of his speech its the delivery method.” The cops had no right to tell him that he had to protest without the bullhorn, and if they thought they did then cite a law or ordinance that states so.

“This is a residential city these days people have the right to the quiet enjoyment of there property as much as people have the right to protest.” That public street to which the protestors occupied is not “their property” as you state, it is public property. If the diners didn’t like the noise or the sight of the protesters, then eat somewhere where they pay their workers what they earn.


Come on, don’t try to change the narrative. The police officer didn’t “placed his hand on his arm to guide him out if the way to allow people to move about”, he grabbed his arm to arrest this Latino who had the audacity to tell him that he was within his rights to protest with a bullhorn at that site.

posted by: vc man on November 25, 2015  5:08pm

This was a completely justified arrest. Two of the stipulations for 53a-182 (Disorderly conduct) are if a person: 1. by offensive or disorderly conduct, annoys or interferes with another person or 2. makes unreasonable noise.

Since the complaint was lodged by a patron of the restaurant (and not the restaurant itself) and there was probable cause to believe that the complaint was valid (Mr. Lugo had a bullhorn around his neck), Lugo could be arrested.  Once the officer touches Lugo, he immediately pulls away and struggles against officers in performance of their duties, hence, interfering.  If you’re truly concerned about the 1st amendment, focus your attention on the college protests that are attempting to silence dissenting views across the country.

As for the theft of wages, the restaurant has been fined repeatedly, and it seems with good reason.  If the protestors want to continue to protest, good for them.  But protesting does not give a person a unlimited license to interfere with anyone else’s enjoyment.

posted by: Mario Cerame on November 25, 2015  5:12pm

Except—the officials didn’t claim it was about the bullhorn, according to the article.  It’s about “offense.”  Mere offense is never enough to permit treading on speech.  That’s a longstanding rule.  vov

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on November 25, 2015  6:16pm

(Mario Cerame, a Connecticut attorney who has written extensively on free-spech legal issues, posted in the comments section below that complaints to police from a diner about noise at a restaurant do not overcome protesters’ First Amendment right to protest wage theft loudly outside that restaurant.)

if this is true.The city better get the check book out.

posted by: Mario Cerame on November 25, 2015  6:49pm

@vc man
No.  See, the statute is disorderly conduct statute is facially unconstitutional as written because it inhibits too much protected speech.  You need to read State v. Indrisiano, for example—the CTSC interprets the statute to mean that :

“the predominant intent is to cause what a reasonable person operating under contemporary community standards would consider a disturbance to or impediment of a lawful activity, a deep feeling of vexation or provocation, or a feeling of anxiety prompted by threatened danger or harm. In order to sustain a conviction for disorderly conduct, the state must begin by demonstrating that the defendant had such a state of mind”


“conduct that is grossly offensive, under contemporary community standards, to a person who actually overhears or sees it, [which] disturbs or impedes the lawful activity of that person.”

Not what is actually written in that statute.  What is actually written violates the constitution.  So, yeah, if you’re relying on the language you cite, then you have a violation of the First Amendment. 

So this is… grossly offensive?  People couldn’t eat because of what was happening? Really guy?  No.

posted by: ILivehere on November 25, 2015  6:57pm

@darnell and Mario Cerame
Yes the issue is not the megaphone its that the volume of the megaphone was disturbing peoples right to quiet enjoyment. Asking someone to lower the volume when its unnecessarily high is not a violation of there right to free speech.

posted by: vc man on November 25, 2015  7:17pm

Well Mario, it sounds like your argument is with the State of CT and the way it interprets what is disorderly and what isn’t, not the cops who responded.  Cops don’t make laws, they enforce them.  Based on the language in the state’s statute for disorderly conduct, Mr. Lugo was wrong.

I love the 1st amendment and the implication of what I see happening with protests on college campuses makes me nervous.  However, in this case, where is the line drawn? What if everyone had a bullhorn? Is that ok? What if instead of a bullhorn it was a huge speaker on a truck and the whole neighborhood could hear it? I don’t have the right, thankfully, to tell him to stop because I disagree with this message.  But his intent to cause annoyance to other people, which he did with a bullhorn, does not seem to be a first amendment issue.

posted by: T-ski1417 on November 25, 2015  8:25pm


Your wrong, watch the video. He initially placed his hand on his arm when the “Latino” as you put it (Lugo) did not comply with a lawful investigation he got arrested. That how it works.

I bet it if he was standing outside your window, legally protesting, with a bullhorn while you were having dinner you would want it to stop, regardless of his crusade. Let me guess it wouldn’t bother
you at all.

posted by: Mario Cerame on November 25, 2015  8:57pm

Hi vc.

Your questions are fair.  There is a good deal of law around sound trucks, believe it or not. :) But—I’d caution you here on that. 

In First Amendment law—unlike say, Fourth Amendment law, generally—purpose matters.  Purpose matters a lot.  Here, the purpose behind the citation was not the megaphone use—at least according to the article.  It was about the content of the speech—the “language.”  It’s not about a reasonable time, place, manner restriction, which wouldn’t be about content. (Not that these are never violations of the 1A, mind you—just reviewed more deferentially.) 

Broadly speaking, if the megaphones were unduly loud—yeah, that wouldn’t be about the content, and yeah, issuing citations for a noise violation wouldn’t necessarily implicate the 1A.

But that’s not what we have here.

My “beef,” if I have one, is less with the beat cops than folks who sit above street level. When I see an officer make a poor choice, I don’t just see the officer.  I mainly see the lieutenants, captains, chiefs, and prosecutors who administer, train, and oversee them, and who somehow let the officer who made the poor choice think that he or she was making the right one.

posted by: Felowery67 on November 25, 2015  9:05pm

These cops did a stellar job. They used the proper amount of force necessary to detain the man. It’s one thing to protest, but its another to disrupt people. If you want to protest, go to the department of labor!

posted by: Wikus van de Merwe on November 25, 2015  9:31pm

“The cops had no right to tell him that he had to protest without the bullhorn, and if they thought they did then cite a law or ordinance that states so.”

He doesn’t have to cite the law, just tell you that you’re breaking it, and to stop or face the consequences.

New Haven Code of Ordinances
Sec. 18-76. - High background noise levels and impulse noise.
(c) No person shall cause or allow the emission of impulse noise in excess of one hundred (100) decibels peak sound-pressure level at any time in any zone

A bullhorn/megaphone is typically ~125 DB

posted by: Bill Saunders on November 25, 2015  9:37pm

Lugo is Lucky he didnt’ get jumped.

That is on step forward for Free Speech in this day and age,

posted by: Noteworthy on November 25, 2015  9:53pm

Arrest and Disrespect Notes:

1. Lugo should not only be arrested, they should add resisting arrest to the list of charges. When a cop gives you an order, your responsibility is to comply or get arrested. Lugo not only didn’t comply, he scuffled with cops trying to put cuffs on him. It’s odd that I learned from my father how to respond to cops but somehow that lesson today is missed by so many - and then they complain about getting arrested, or worse, taken down more forcefully.

2. There are lots of ways to to effect change - civil disobedience and disrespect for businesses, their patrons or for city executives with busy schedules are not among the ones that yield more than press coverage.

3. Has Lugo called to schedule a meeting with Mayor Harp? Did he bother to make a single phone call and show a sign of courtesy? Highly doubtful.

4. As for the criticism of Chief Esserman, and there are times when it should be heaped on his head, this is not one of them. Lugo and his troops should be able to dictate where Esserman eats dinner? Really? I eat at this restaurant. It has great food.

5. It’s very curious that Goodfellas is being sued, the Labor Department is supposedly investigating, and yet, after all these months - nothing. Could it be there is nothing there?

6. This is not a free speech or even free access to a publicly owned property like City Hall. It’s about respect. If you want it, Lugo et al should practice it. You want others to follow this country’s laws? You should follow them yourself - all of them without cherry picking which ones you want. It’s rather hypocritical to do otherwise.

posted by: Bill Saunders on November 25, 2015  9:54pm


If I was protesting outside of Darnell’s House with a Bullhorn— First he would laugh—then after it might have reached unmitigating levels, and Goldson was finally brought to his knees, he might have called the police on a noise complaint.

Two hours later, after the police finally arrived with noise meters, the protesters would be gone.

Darnell and I would laugh once again.

posted by: wendy1 on November 25, 2015  10:04pm

I use bullhorns and I recently stood in front of Thai Taste on Chapel with one, yet another NH restaurant that thinks it can get away with cheating the help.

Two years ago Bruce Alexander asked the Yale police to arrest me because I was bullhorning in front of his office at 433 Temple St.  The officer came down and told me I wasn’t worth the paperwork and to please cut the Bhorn which I did cause I had already had my ferocious say.

Using a bullhorn is better than using a gun.  Most of us activists go for the “Ghandi” method.  What’s sad is that the govt. and the public aren’t listening or paying attention to either noise-maker.  I am very afraid for this country.  I wish John Lugo had called me.

posted by: robn on November 25, 2015  11:11pm

Mr Cerame,

Mr Lugos actions are not OK.

Frisby v. Schultz

If anything he should be protesting in front of the CT Dept of Labor offices because it might affect change for the alleged exploited workers at the restaurant where they won’t have any job at all if it’s shut down by protests.

posted by: robn on November 25, 2015  11:14pm


I think this is a case when you should have published a new breaking story rather than graft it onto an old one. The update is more of a freestanding story than it is an update….makes it confusing for return readers/ commenters.

posted by: AverageTaxpayer on November 25, 2015  11:29pm

Gosh, when I ask the NHPD to enforce the noise ordinance, they always tell me they can’t as that job belongs strictly to the Health Dept.

So honestly, what gives? Why won’t the police enforce noise ordinances against those people waking up so many with their motorcycles and boom-cars, and bars blasting music downtown, yet Lugo gets sent to jail?

posted by: T-ski1417 on November 26, 2015  3:50am

@Bill Saunders

I assume the “2 hour” comment is another dig at the police. Seems the NHI is a stomping ground for the anti-police community.

Since you speak for darnell now, the point of your comment to me is that he would still call, how long it takes him/her is their business.

posted by: darnell on November 26, 2015  10:14am


I can speak for myself. I don’t like a lot of things that folks do, but I don’t use the police as my personal security force to enforce my will, and I certainly would not try to get someone arrested who was not breaking the law. So, stand on the PUBLIC street below my windie and legally gather if you like, he’ll into the bullhorn at legally accepted levels, and you would be all good.

posted by: T-ski1417 on November 26, 2015  10:49am


I glad you can speak for yourself, just let Saunders know that as well.

Well your wrong because he did break the law and was arrested. If no law was broken then he would not have been arrested. I’m sure Officer Cole did not magically appear there. He was dispatched because someone called because Lugo was breaching their peace, which is a crime. He also did not comply when Officer Cole was conducting a lawful investigation. You don’t have the right not to cooperate when a lawful investigation is being conducted. You don’t have to talk to them but you have to comply. Simple.

posted by: vc man on November 26, 2015  11:55am

Darnell, did you watch the video? The officer tells Mr. Lugo they are responding to a noise complaint lodged by diners at the restaurant.  As a result of the complaint, he was arrested for disorderly conduct, then resisted arrest. I also thought the officers did a good job of keeping calm when facing a crowd that was surrounding them even though at least one of the people filming was putting the camera almost in the officer’s face. I know you enjoy bashing the police, but I think you need to grudgingly accept that they did a good job with a tough situation here.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on November 26, 2015  11:59am

I will put my money down that the charges on Mr.Lugo will be drop.

posted by: robn on November 25, 2015 10:11pm

Mr Cerame,

Mr Lugos actions are not OK.

Frisby v. Schultz

If anything he should be protesting in front of the CT Dept of Labor offices because it might affect change for the alleged exploited workers at the restaurant where they won’t have any job at all if it’s shut down by protests.

They can do both.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on November 26, 2015  12:07pm

My question to all is how many of you would eat at Goodfellas, knowing that they are not paying there workers the money that owe to them?

posted by: STANDUP on November 26, 2015  2:44pm

For those that still don’t mind dining at Goodfellas and those of you that think Lugo should patiently wait for the Department of Labor to finish with the investigation.  Let’s see if you dont mind staring into the eyes of the familys of the employees during bill or dinner time. It’s easy sitting back passing judgment and throwing your two cents on how ULA chooses to not sit back on wage theft. Maybe you can personal take your suggestions to ULA or better yet protect the poor customers from Goodfellas that are also participating towards wage theft by eating there against demonstrators and annoying bullhorns. When our chief of policy witnessed the bullhorns and demonstrators if Lugo was commiting a crime then why was nothing addressed then? The police officer’s intention was to set an example of Lugo that may have backfired.

posted by: darnell on November 26, 2015  3:21pm


Do you actually live in a world where everyone arrested is guilty? I was arrested for trespassing while an alderman and it was politically motivated, the charges were completely dropped. It happens every day. your premise that he was arrested because he was guilty is ridiculous.

posted by: darnell on November 26, 2015  3:29pm

vc man,

I don’t bash the police, I have several relatives who are police officers and I almost always give them the benefit of the doubt.

I watched the video, and the fact is that the police were stifling free speech by grabbing, and then arresting the leader of a protest that has gone on for several months. They had the right to protest, with a bullhorn, and the police never provided any evidence that the sound was higher than legally allowed.

The police were acting as a private security force for the restaurant, and began to enforce their will on law abiding citizens.

I’d like to see your reaction when your rights are trampled upon. When it does happen I will be there to support you also.

posted by: STANDUP on November 26, 2015  4:31pm

The guilty party is not Lugo. It’s the patron of the restaurant, and the owners of Goodfellas . Mind you the chief of police and Mayor who try to straddle the fence and only gett involved when they have no choice are also responsible in the matter.
ULA may get a bad rap from the observers . But no one else is out there doing what they do. When you are asked to help and have also been a victim yourself it is impossible to just sit still and patiently wait and watch. Like I said unless you are willing to put your wages aside for months and put yourself in their shoes and watch someone that took advantage of you and many others just keep on like nothing happened they you can say lets just wait and see how this will get resolved I just can’t understand how you would be so upset that someone is outside in the cold fighting for justice with a bullhorn. How your comfortable supporting a business that would not pay their employees for their work . It’s no difference then a person who would eat a meal in front of a starving child. I’m sure these people have family’s and jobs with their status are not easy to come by.  How are they living? And if their getting by for how long can they maintain ? Lugo and ULA Is just doing what’s right when no else is willing to get involved .

posted by: Jones Gore on November 26, 2015  8:30pm

It isn’t the job of the NHPD to enforce labor laws unless is it assisting the state in an investigation. WIth all due disrespect to the Yale Law Students, you are doing a poor job helping the people understand the role of the NHPD in this matter and making it worst as they are trying to create problem with the NHPD because they think the NHPD is supposed to doing something. This is a state issue.

posted by: lovevail on November 27, 2015  12:11am

I passed this incident when it was happening last wknd and also watched the video numerous times. First of all, all the officers should be commended for multiple reasons. Especially Officer Cole. He/Other officers remained extremely professional during this entire time. Not sure where these Officers received their Academy Training but they totally proved to me that this city is in good hands with these competent cops. I applaud whoever is responsible for training these young men to remain as calm as possible in this type of situation. All I can say is if something ever happens and I need the help of a police officer in this city, I sure hope I would be lucky enough to have Officer Cole and these 2 officers that were with him come to my aid.

posted by: T-ski1417 on November 27, 2015  7:38am


I certainly understand that many people that get arrested may not be guilty, but that is not the case here, as much as you may not like it.

As far as stifling free speech, that’s not the case because the group was free to continue to protest. You say that you watched the video so l can assume you heard the officers tell them that they are free to protest or did you block that part out?

I applaud the level of professionalism of the officers in not arresting more people who were continually shoving a camera in their face while trying to conduct an arrest after being warned to step back and film from a distance. 

As far as your arrest, just because the charges got dropped doesn’t mean you didn’t t commit the crime. In my “world” charges get dropped all the time at court.

How is the premise ridiculous when he was justifiably arrested.

posted by: Paul Garlinghouse on November 27, 2015  9:23am

This restaurant owner has learned that he can repeatedly underpay his workers and get off with a small fine. Stealing wages from your workers is larceny, a felony under Connecticut law, but wage stealers are almost never arrested.  The protesters have a right to call attention to this, even if it bothers the diners eating there.  That is the point.  Why don’t the diners complain to the owner and ask him to stop cheating workers. We live in a country in which our right to protest and picket and criticize the police and the government is protected.  Attorney Mario Cerame is correct when he points out that the police made a mistake in this arrest and the process leading up to it.  They violated Mr. Lugo’s first amendment and Connecticut constitutional rights.  They should know better.  They should be trained to handle protests in a manner that respects the first amendment. These protesters are exercising these rights and I hope they continue vigorously.  They are protecting all of our rights when they refuse to be chilled by heavy handed police actions.

posted by: lovevail on November 27, 2015  10:17am

@Paul Garlinghouse . Have you ever dined at GoodFellas? Or do you prefer places like Burger King? Because when I’m at a establishment like GoodFellas and I am paying $100 or more for dinner for me and my guest I do not appreciate hearing bullhorns or others protesting loudly. I also do not not appreciate having to cross that protesting picket line when I leave. So for patrons to call police and complain is not unreasonable. And your comment about heavy handed police actions in this situation….seriously, you need to watch some other videos of heavy handed police actions to know the difference. Or have your eyes checked.

posted by: Paul Garlinghouse on November 27, 2015  11:29am

“when I’m at a establishment like GoodFellas and I am paying $100 or more for dinner for me and my guest I do not appreciate hearing bullhorns or others protesting loudly. I also do not not appreciate having to cross that protesting picket line when I leave.”

Have you thought about asking the owner to pay his workers correctly?  Especially considering the amount he charges for your food, do you not feel insulted that he turns around and stiffs his employees?  I think that if all the diners insisted they want the workers properly paid that he would.

posted by: darnell on November 27, 2015  11:48am


You start with the wrong premise, and that is the protesters were breaking the law. The fact is that they have been doing the same protesting for 5 months, with a bullhorn. The officers did not have a meter wit them, so they can not legally say that the decimal level was over what is legally prescribed. So, without the evidence, what do they have to base an arrest? That officer had no right to put his hands on that law abiding citizen, since there wasn’t a law broken. Where is the evidence that they were protesting above the legally allowed decima levels?

And it is funny how folks like you can justify police actions no matter what. The state dropped the charges against me because I was INNOCENT, i did not commit a crime. For you to state that the case could be otherwise is ridiculous, since you don’t have one shred of evidence to question my innocence. You don’t want to even question whether or not the police were wrong. For you it is “guilty until proven guilty.”

posted by: lovevail on November 27, 2015  6:17pm

@Paul Garlinghouse: Yes, I feel bad that these people may not be getting full wages. However, that’s not my place to take up with the owners of GoodFellas. I deal with demanding doctors and sick patients all day long. When I go out for dinner the last thing I’m going to do is have a confrontation with someone else’s boss. I want to sit there and relax. That’s a job for the CT State Labor Board. And I pay alot of money in taxes for those people to do their job.

posted by: Safename715 on November 27, 2015  7:09pm

For those who think that it is “easy” to fight for your legal rights and get what is owed to you, I can tell you from personal experience that this is not the case. Especially when it comes to restaurants in CT. I worked at Paci in Southport. They “pool” the tips and then put them in a paycheck a week later. There is never an explanation of the amount everyone will get after a shift, they take all orders paid in cash and void them out and keep the cash for themselves, and then everyone walks with about 1/3 of their actual earnings.
When I attempted to contact the DOL, I was told that because it runs on a “pool system” there was NOTHING they could do to help me. Paci steals thousands of dollars from its employees every month. It is not an isolated incident, and if only one person moves forward with a complaint, that does not mean that it is an isolated event. It can merely mean that no one else wants to move forward in fear of the repricussions.
Until you have walked in someone’s shoes, you can’t possibly u detest and how difficult the situation is. I wish I had someone like these protesters on my side.

posted by: T-ski1417 on November 28, 2015  4:54am


“Folks like me” huh???????

I won’t even comment on that. Just because you want to protest does not mean you can breach someone’s peace or not cooperate with police doing a “lawful” investigation. He should have been charged with more but was not and was released on scene.

No I don’t think police are always right because they are not, I just choose not to vilify them every time they have to do what we pay them to do because they have a tremendous and frankly thankless job to do.

In my opinion professional protesters like Lugo are the problem. He has no respect for the police on any level and will continue to disrespect them while hiding behind his freedom of speech rhetoric.

posted by: Wikus van de Merwe on November 28, 2015  9:46am

AverageTaxpayer, the NH police will enforce the noise ordinance but it is the absolute bottom of their priorities.  In 15 years I’ve managed to get them out twice.  As for the Health Department that is the civilian dispatcher lying to you.  If dispatch ever tells you that the NH Police won’t enforce noise ordinances get their ID number and then ask to speak with their supervisor.  If they aren’t compliant go to your monthly ward meeting and bring it up with your police district manager, they’ll likely set that dispatcher straight and give you a better contact for when you need to make a noise complaint.

posted by: darnell on November 30, 2015  2:08am


“hiding behind his freedom of speech rhetoric.” Really? So I guess in this democracy you are the person who defines who has free speech and who doesn’t. Thanks for letting us know that you are the individual who will define “free speech” and who is able to use it.

posted by: darnell on December 3, 2015  4:27pm

@I live here
Wilkus van Werwe

Read it and weep