Ralliers Rally For Rallying

Fifteen or so advocates for the homeless exercised their legal right to gather on the Green to make a point—about gathering on the Green.

The group, assembled by the Amistad Catholic Worker House, held a noon protest by the flagpole Tuesday to celebrate the temporary quashing of a plan to require people like them to get permits in advance before using the Green for political speech. They called on people to make sure another similar version of the proposed new rules for assembly on the Green never becomes law.

They made the point in song. (Click on the video for a sample.)

They brought a pamphlet of updated lyrics to versatile protest-music chestnuts like Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land”:

This Green is your Green
This Green is my Green
From City Hall
To the Yale ivy
From the Dunkin’ Donuts
To the public library
This Green was made for you and me!

Once I was sleeping
On a bench by Trinity
I saw a bike cop
Standing beside me
I tried to sit up
But he just fined me
(I said) “This Green was made for you and me!”

Whenever the sun’s down
And the shelters are closed down
This is the one place
You can lay your head down
This law is messed up
So we’re shutting it down
(because) this Green was made for you and me!

City Corporation Counsel Victor Bolden drew up the proposed changes last November (read about that here) in order to set clear rules on use of the Green in the wake of the 2012 “Occupy New Haven” encampment. The rules would have banned sleeping overnight on the Green, required people to get permission 21 days in advance to hold events there, and in some cases require payment. That provoked a storm of outrage—including this proposal-burning at the Amistad Catholic Worker house in the Hill. Two weeks ago Bolden asked the Board of Alders to withdraw the plan from consideration for now to allow for a more deliberative preparation process.

Protesters on the Green Tuesday urged people to get involved in any such effort to make sure the Green belongs as much to homeless people as it does to Yale.

“A ‘livable city’ does not equate to hiding the poor,” said activist Mark Coville.

“I think it will come back,” Board of Alders President Jorge Perez said of the proposal in a conversation after the protest.

Perez said he welcomes a discussion about setting reasonable rules for the Green. “But people pay a lot of taxes in this city. I’m not in favor of a group that wants to use the Green for a few hours or two days to have to pay a fee,” he said. He said he also opposes barring people from the Green after 10 p.m. as originally proposed. “This is downtown. People are going to walk through there.”

“On the other hand,” he said, “we need some sort of balance between different competing interests that want to use the parks.”

Meanwhile, at the Green protest in favor of protests, Amistad House member Sarah Raven served homemade turkey soup and encouraged people to speak in an open mic in between group renditions of updates to “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize” and “Can’t Turn Me Around.”

The singing wasn’t audible from the fourth-floor corporation counsel suite in City Hall. But Corporation Counsel Bolden could see the people assembled.

He didn’t sound in a rush to jump back into the controversy.

“At some point we’ll deal with it,” Bolden said. “There will be plenty of time for discussion at a later point.”

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posted by: everloved on February 11, 2014  3:55pm

let people be free and use the green.  deal with the homeless problem.  there should be at least one place in the city where people can camp.  there is plenty of open space.  there arent hundreds of people camping near the green.  a person snoozing during the day should never be accosted.  as a former homeless person, and who knows, it could happen again, i can testify the shelter i went to is evil, i was not treated well, and i felt like an inmate.  with all the money being pumped into that dump, a kind and gentle shelter should be raised.  i would do it if i had the money.  the people who live in new haven pay the taxes, they should have a say.  obviously i wouldnt see the green as a long term camping spot, but an alternative would be great.

posted by: OccupyTheClassroom on February 11, 2014  5:33pm

You know what Utah found ? Giving homeless people free housing is cheaper than building and maintaining shelters.

posted by: JustAnotherTaxPayer on February 11, 2014  5:57pm

If not the green, how about College Woods, or Edgerton Park, or the Old Campus at Yale, or the Yale Bowl(which is used only six days a year), Or maybe the New Yale School of Business and Management could designate several thousand square feet in their sanctuary to allow the destitute and emotionally impaired, which are the residue of economic policies developed and practiced by the geniuses there. That will never happen. Again Yale wants to maintain a collection of human mutations nearby, for their students to study and write about, and as always they will find a way to make the working class absorb the burden and responsibility for maintaining their specimens. What a bunch of hypocrites and elitists.

posted by: Guido Brunetti on February 11, 2014  8:52pm


60 Minutes did a segment on housing the homeless in Nashville this past Sunday. Quite enlightening regarding the taxpayer savings realized because it prevents frequent emergency room visits.

posted by: Paul Wessel on February 11, 2014  10:01pm

Good action.  Sorry I missed it.

posted by: wendy1 on February 12, 2014  12:17pm

I loved this article and comments and posted it to the development company that I want to work with for my homeless housing project.  I need help and backup.  Contact me at 203 498 7759. And ask for Wendy.