EAST HAVEN, Conn. — Community meetings and solidarity actions are being organized in support of Latino residents and immigrant owned businesses in East Haven who have become the victim of racial profiling by police and targets of an extremist anti-immigrant hate group.

Two weeks ago Father James Manship of St. Rose Church in New Haven, Conn., was arrested while photographing police harassing the owners of My Country Store on Main Street here where some members of his predominantly Latino parish live.

When the story hit the press, Latino business owners on Main Street were visited by a hate group called North East White Pride, from Haverhill, Mass., which delivered fliers headlined ‘Immigration or Invasion?’

First the fliers were delivered by men in army fatigues. Several days later, the fliers were delivered again, this time dropped outside the stores at night in white bags.

The immigrant rights group Unidad Latina en Accion immediately began organizing support for the Latino community and reaching out to others for solidarity.

After hearing of the situation, a delegation from the New Haven Peoples Center paid a visit to four Latino-owned businesses to see firsthand what they are facing. Their account follows:

‘Our first stop was at Guti’z Bakery to show support and solidarity and naturally to taste their delicious breads. We were welcomed and thanked very much for coming. Information about the Peoples Center was left with phone numbers to call. We promised to encourage others to come and support the bakery.

‘The next visit to Los Amigos Grocery was very emotional. The owner and his wife and little child were in the store. A reporter who also happened to be there did translation. When we said how sorry we were that this incident is taking place it brought him to tears. No one had ever come to his store to show support. He said he is losing business because people are afraid to come in since the police started parking in the front and back of his store. This was the first day that he made a sale in some time. He couldn’t believe that people would do this horrible thing to him, he said he just wants to survive.

‘Dorothy Johnson related the story of what African Americans went through in the segregation days in the South.

”People had hatred in their hearts and in their minds. They were not born that way, but as time went on that hatred was drilled into their heads. But it is not right when hatred groups prey on immigrants who want to start a business. this really is going backwards,” Johnson said.

‘When you think about what happened to African Americans in the 60s down South, how difficult it was for them to survive, what did people do? They formed support groups, community groups, they educated and mobilized people to come together and victory was won. This is a very good opportunity for people who can’t understand the immigrant situation to be educated because we should be joining forces to fight these big corporations, not fighting one another. This country has been divided so long, now we have a good opportunity to make the change that should have happened decades ago.

‘Across the street we left information for the owners of La Bamba restaurant to contact us since they were not there. Then we went to My Country Store. We were greeted by a friendly young woman. We explained why we were there and she was very thankful. The same performance that the police did at Los Amigos Grocery, posting cars in front and back, they did here too and now their business is also slow. We said we are here for you. Dorothy Johnson related her story and said what happened in the 60s must happen now. ‘We must regenerate this solidarity.’

‘The owner said the only word to use to describe how the Latino community feels is ‘terrified….all Latinos are being profiled not just immigrants,’ she said. ‘We live in constant fear.’

‘She showed us the fliers that the extremist anti-immigrant group brought to their store, dressed in army fatigues. The propaganda that some of the anti-immigrant groups are putting out is that the immigrants ‘come for welfare, or to take our jobs and ring with them drugs, crime and disease.’ The fliers attempt to whip up hysteria by claiming ‘they send their children to school without immunization and expose your children to this.’

‘There is a need for more education on immigration. Some people do not understand and think the immigrants have come to take their jobs. In many cases they have come for a livelihood because of the difficult economic conditions in their own countries caused by corporate trade agreements.

‘The Peoples Center encourages our friends and family members to please go down to the Latino owned stores, support them and embrace them. They are really afraid. It is time to spread the word. Go to these stores. Help our friends out. Spread the word now. When the time comes for a community meeting we must pack the hall with supporters and create the conditions so that bigotry cannot prevail.’

New Haven Peoples Center can be visited at


CONTRIBUTOR

Joelle Fishman
Joelle Fishman

Joelle Fishman chairs the Connecticut Communist Party USA. She is a Commissioner on the City of New Haven Peace Commission, serves on the executive board of the Alliance of Retired Americans in Connecticut and is an active member of many economic rights and social justice organizations. She was a candidate for Congress from 1973 to 1982, maintaining minor-party ballot status for the Communist Party in Connecticut's Third Congressional District. As chair of the CPUSA Political Action Commission, she has played an active role in the broad labor and people's alliance that defeated the ultra-right in the 2008 elections and continues to mobilize for health care, worker rights and peace.

 

 

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