10+ Years In

In 2003, to oppose the United States’ invasion of Iraq meant setting oneself up for anything from ridicule to threats. Having been called a traitor in no uncertain terms, I know this firsthand. Seeing the biased coverage of the anti-war movement was what compelled me to participate in Indymedia, as there was (and is) a great need for reporting on social justice from the perspective — or at least, with empathy — of those not in the dominant culture.

Too often, the stories are still told from those in positions of power. We can see this in the narratives created about the protests of police brutality in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. Most mainstream news outlets attached the word “riot” to what had been happening, despite citizen journalists’ video footage showing that the majority of the protests were peaceful, if not in language, at least in action.

A press release does not a story make. (more…)

Winning Hearts and Minds with Amigo

John Sayles speaking at Cinestudio

If you missed the talk with Amigo‘s director John Sayles, you can still see the film at Cinestudio, but what you will not be able to get is the refresher Imperialism 101 lecture that he provided for the audience on Wednesday evening. Having this context in which to view the film is not necessary, but does add depth. It’s historical fiction, based on no singular figure or battle, but made from many truths. While this story focuses on the Philippines, it should not be forgotten that this was the same era when Guam and Puerto Rico were also annexed as territories of the United States.

In History classes, this period is typically represented as an eyeblink between the Industrial Revolution and World War I. Not much has been done cinematically with the Philippine-American War either. According to Sayles, Amigo is only the third American-made film about this subject.

A criticism of the film has been that it serves as a metaphor for the War in Iraq, which would be apt if the language and appearance of occupation had been invented in the last ten years. (more…)

Academy Award Nominee John Sayles at Cinestudio

Amigo will premiere in Connecticut at Cinestudio on the Trinity College campus. This is currently the only location in the state where the film is scheduled to be screened. While Amigo will be playing at Cinestudio through October 29th, Wednesday (10/26) is the only day of the run when Real Hartford readers will receive free admission to the film and conversation with John Sayles. (more…)

Removing Trees, Ending Wars, and Repealing Raises

The next time I hear somebody run his mouth about how people in Hartford don’t care about anything, I’m going to drag him to a City Council meeting. He would then see that even at meetings without a public hearing session, residents are willing to stand — if there are no chairs left, which often is the case– for over an hour to listen to public servants make decisions that will affect them.

Monday night, many residents showed up at City Hall to support designating roughly $50,000 for the Salvation Army’s Marshall House emergency shelter to remain open through the end of June. Because there was no public hearing, they held signs. This agenda item was not debated because its sponsor apparently missed a deadline. Items that were discussed: trees, the impact of war, and whether or not voters were too dumb to know what they were voting for in 2008 when they gave an 80% pay raise to City Council. (more…)

Do Hartford Residents Care About the City?

This has been the question posed, but the definition of caring is one that I reject. The Courant has framed the issue as follows: Hartford residents do or do not care about the city based on political corruption and/or low voter turnout.

As if those were the only indicators of caring!

Don’t Blame Me for Perez
I have voted in every election. Because I am not able to see the world through rose-colored glasses, I know that people can be corrupt, evil, or just plain stupid, regardless of party affiliation; thus, I do not vote along any party line. Although I do not despise him as many do, I have never voted for Perez. And guess what? Many others in Hartford did not vote for him either. Citing as proof that Hartford residents do not care because Mayor Perez was reelected is like saying Americans did not care because GWB was elected twice. I do not understand why some would cast their votes in favor of certain candidates, but they do.

Low voter turnout is a problem, but it is not a problem unique to Hartford. Even in presidential elections, Americans do not take part as they could. Do we blame voters for not participating in a system that they view as broken or unable to be affected by the people? I don’t. I’ll admit to not always believing that my vote matters, but I do it anyway…in the same way that I wear a seatbelt or a bike helmet. It might be futile, but then, it might not, and it does not hurt me to do so.

Instead of framing the outcome of an election as a sign that Hartford residents do not care, why do we not ask instead why better candidates are not running for political office?

I do not care about Perez

Sure, I care about him as a human being. He’s never been unpleasant in my very few interactions with him. But I do not care about his trial. There. I said it.

The media cares about the Perez trial because it is scandalous (low grade scandal is what I would call it) and scandal sells papers, gets viewers, and allows “reporters” to sit in a court room tweeting inane, irrelevant observations, passing that off as news.

It’s not that I am a supporter of corruption. If the Mayor did in fact do something illegal, he should be punished appropriately for it. But — here’s a shocker — his fancy counter tops do not affect my everyday life. They are not the first thing I think of in the morning and the last thing before I go to sleep. No, the last thing I think about when going to bed is how the “noise ordinance with teeth” is more like one with dentures, in that when residents call for enforcement, the teeth have been removed. I care about the need for stronger enforcement of leash laws. There are people who let their pit bulls roam, which causes problems when they tangle with other dogs; there are some in my neighborhood who are afraid they will be bitten. Another thing I care about is how lackadaisical traffic law enforcement is. The police only need to park themselves at the corner of Broad and Capitol to meet any ticket quotas they might have. Every single time I am at this intersection I see people running red lights, speeding through the intersection, and doing other amazingly idiotic things, like texting while turning. Sit by the highway on and off ramps. I would feel safer standing in the middle of a driving school parking lot. I care about low literacy, bullying in schools, and the lack of employment for residents. I care that in certain neighborhoods where there are high rates of diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure, I see prominent billboards advertising alcohol and fast food. I care about the way downtown landlords price out low income residents or new small businesses, how the city demolishes buildings they own rather than maintain them so that they can be used, how the parks are not maintained as they should be, and how a minority of violent thugs make life unbearable in small sections of the city.

When I do not have so many other things to care about, then maybe I will have room in my brain for caring about a rather minor accusation made of a politician, who, by the way, has not gotten us into a war (or two), permitted torture, or wrecked the economy. Let’s prioritize our outrage. If Perez acted illegally, then he should be punished, but there is no need to sensationalize the trial, as this is not worthy of sensationalism.

New Year, Old Beef

This afternoon, a veritable throng gathered outside of the Federal Building on Main Street as part of a protest sponsored by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Palestinian-American Congress, and the Middle East Crisis Committee. It was endorsed by People of Faith CT, American Friends Service Committee, A.N.S.W.E.R. CT and Socialist Action.
The protest follows recent violence in the Gaza Strip. The groups are demanding that Obama voice his views on the recent attacks. (more…)