Beach: It’s time to get off our couches
Are we having fun yet? What an exciting first week with our new president!
Nasty days are here. Last week, at about the time Trump took over, threats against Jewish community centers happened across the country, including at our own JCC in Woodbridge.
I really don’t know where to begin with Trump and what he’s moving forward with in his first few days. Building that wall along our border with Mexico, at a cost of up to $25 billion? (He says it won’t cost more than $12 billion, hurray.)
Resurrecting two oil pipelines that endanger the environment? Ordering the round-up of 11 million “illegals”? Declaring he will cut off federal funding for “sanctuary cities,” including New Haven?
Oh, here’s another one I personally liked: He called reporters “among the most dishonest human beings on earth.”
I was able to miss the inauguration last Friday because I was in New Haven Superior Court, covering a murder trial. I found that more soothing.
An attorney in the courtroom noticed the pin I was wearing — “Is it 2020 yet?” — and told me there was a rally and march planned for Saturday in New Haven as a part of the national and international women’s marches against President Trump’s policies.
My wife and I weren’t able to join the larger marches in Washington, D.C., New York City or Hartford because I had some work commitments over the weekend. But we decided we should participate in our hometown.
A spirited and fired-up crowd filled Yale’s Hewitt Quadrangle. We noticed there were many kids on hand, joining in writing chalked messages on the plaza ground: “I’m still with her” and plenty more.
The assorted signs included: “Future voter” and “Rise and resist — stay nasty.”
After the defiant speeches were made, we marched to the New Haven Green, which was fitting. Every large protest should end there.
A few hours after we marched, our two daughters, now Los Angeles residents, joined a massive march there. Our kids, who were shattered by the election result, got a much-needed boost of their spirits by being in a giant crowd estimated at about 700,000.
And on Saturday afternoon, when my wife and I were on the Shoreline, we saw a contingent of demonstrators marching across the Guilford Green.
It was happening all over.
Yes, many, many of us are angry and worried. But the stakes for us are puny compared with the less affluent.
The Yale Daily News reported a sanctuary city committee created by New Haven residents in support of undocumented immigrants met Tuesday night to discuss how the city can defend these people against possible deportation raids. One of the people at the meeting said many undocumented parents are so afraid their children will be taken away by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents while in class that they have stopped sending their kids to school.
The New Haven Board of Education recently began drafting a policy to establish a policy to protect undocumented students from such raids.
New Haven Mayor Toni Harp said the city will continue to embrace all its residents and “make them feel welcome and safe.”
Harp noted that what America has always done — isn’t this what “makes America great”? — is to serve as “a beacon to those fleeing oppression and persecution, who seek freedom and opportunity.” She noted Trump’s actions are contrary to that ideal.
But if push comes to shove, will Harp do what Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh has promised? He vowed: “If necessary, we will use City Hall itself to shelter and protect anyone who’s targeted unjustly.”
Walsh said he would allow people to take up residence there, transforming City Hall into a “sanctuary church.”
“They can use my office, they can use any office in this building,” Walsh said.
Yeah! Boston strong!
So, yes, it’s time to get off our couches, stop bingeing on “Breaking Bad” and “The West Wing” and take some action. I noticed this message posted at First and Summerfield United Methodist Church across from the New Haven Green: “Moral outrage is a wonderful motivator but no formula for a solution.”
The man who said that was the Rev. William Sloane Coffin Jr., who was Yale’s chaplain during the height of the Vietnam War. He knew all about taking action.
These interesting times are making for some interesting conversations, have you noticed? For instance, a man from Wallingford was at my house last weekend to do some carpentry work and out of the blue he remarked: “Boy, what about all these protesters! He’s only been in office a couple of days. They should give him a chance.”
I pointed out that many of the people Trump has chosen to be on his Cabinet are millionaires. “They’re not like you and me,” I said. “They really don’t care about us.”
“Well, if they’ve made so much money, they probably know how to fix things,” he said.
“You think this guy is going to make your life better?” I replied. “Let’s just wait and see.”
Contact Randall Beach at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203-680-9345.