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Martin Luther King Celebration recap

Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Time: 11:28 AM

If you missed last night's Martin Luther King Community Celebration ceremony at Western Connecticut State University, you missed a truly moving experience.

The keynote speaker, Carlotta Walls LaNier, gave an incredible speech and hopefully our younger generation will have a better idea of what LaNier went thought as one of the nine black students who intergrated at Central High School in Little Rock Arkansas.

Thanks to those who organize this event as they did this city proud. A special thanks to PJ Leopold who really hit the nail on the head with her words and linking the struggles of the 50s with the struggles of today in Danbury.

Here's a few photos from last night. Video footage of the event will be posted shortly and I'll bump this post to the top once everything is uploaded. If you were in attendance last night and wish to comment, please do so in the comments section.

MLK Community Celebration Photos

UPDATE: Here's the text to PJ Leopold's remarks that received a huge applause from the audience.

Good evening!

Martin Luther King, his inspiration is why I entered ministry 23 years ago, so I’m very thankful to the Event Planners for giving this Celebration for all to build on his work. While the Civil Rights Movement has unique roots & struggles that aren’t over, we’ll now look at how Civil Rights of 4 decades ago is the Grandparent of today’s struggle for Immigrant Rights. I’ve 3 connections to offer, and I promise to be quick:

First: they’re not just over Rights, but are over National Values getting sorted by local communities. In the Civil Rights Movement: Water Fountains and Restaurant Counters started as local issues. In Montgomery, Alabama, what went on to change the entire American transportation system, started – with a local person: when Rosa Parks sat down, a nation of New Values was lifted up.

African American men used to be called “boy:” branded inferior, because of skin pigment. For many families, issues of race now couple with language or accent. If Martin were here tonight, I believe he’d see abilities of Hispanic, Latino, & Brazilian children to speak 2 or 3 languages as marks of early-childhood intelligence, not their inferiority & perhaps he’d mention many nations teach a 2nd language from the first day of school because they don’t de-value it; and instead, see an asset to build on.

Water Fountains & Buses, or NEW struggles over: language, visas, law enforcement. All come back to Local Communities, getting rid of the clothes in the closet that no longer fit.

Second connection:

The use of fear & hate. These were huge challenges to the Civil Rights Movement. Rev. King. Andrew Young. Rosa Parks. Barry Goldwater. Archie Bunkers. Names have changed. But reducing many, many complicated issues to the “I-Word” (Immigrant automatically equals Illegal) is spreading fear and hate, to dangerous levels.

The early Civil Rights Movement succeeded because it didn’t succumb to fear & hate. In 1957 at Dexter Ave Baptist church, while the nation was rocked by KKK, police dogs, hate rallies, -- this is what Martin said:

Let us fight passionately & unrelentingly for the goals of justice and peace, but let us never fight with falsehood and violence and hate and malice, but always fight with love, so when the day comes that the walls of segregation have completely crumbled - we will be able to live with people as brothers and sisters.

When Martin’s message is in your heart, your Values rise above using fear and hate and you discourage its use by anyone in the community.

To briefly pause there: inside your program, there’s a Card -- to join the Rapid Response Network. It’s a confidential list maintained at the Association of Religious Communities. It’s not given to any other agency & not used for fundraisers. It’s only used to contact you, if there’s a need to help a victim of hate. Signed cards will be received at the Exit, by The Ushers (thank you Ushers).

A third and final link: …….

The Promised Land.

The Civil Rights Movement produced New National Values by asking good questions. The greatest of all was 1 word: Why? Why do water fountains need to be segregated? Why not integrate?

Martin was a Preacher. Not an Engineer. I doubt he knew how to “build water fountains.” What he knew, was how to ask questions – to change the Fountains of Compassion & Fountains of Achievement – for all people. And then, new waters began to flow.

Recently, several thousand residents were polled: asked to “press 1 or press 2” on a Law Enforcement Proposal (commonly called) ICE ACCESS.

Advocates say the program won’t involve “racial profiling.” Yet, the policy would permit police to conduct searches and arrests without warrants; so sometimes police wouldn’t have any choice but to do their job based on what they “see”: physical attributes, such as race.

Imagine the 1950’s:

Let’s say a survey was mailed with the option to “check 1 I’m for segregation, check 2 I’m against” – AT THAT TIME, how would that’ve worked out? (PAUSE) And where would Civil Rights be today?

On Feb 4, 1968 in Atlanta, at Ebenezer Baptist, in response to being called a GREAT American, Martin said this: Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. He said: You don’t have to have a college degree. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree. You don’t have to know Plato and Aristotle. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love. Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve.

Martin’s message was prophetic, effective, needed. And still is. When the ICE ACCESS proposal risks Deporting hard earned Values against profiling; it’s not enough to “press 1 or press 2.”

We all owe it to Rev. King, to start a NEW page in history where people of very different outlooks can come to the same table with one, common Goal: what to do (or not do) to bring the community to -- a higher level of Greatness.

So to conclude:

Tonight, I invite everyone to personally recommit to the message of Rev. King & The Anthem -- “Lift Every Voice & Sing:”

  • Sing for Healing and Unity,
  • Until we are ALL Hate-free,
  • And Free, Free at last -- to live, work, worship, and study – in harmony.

None of us are pure, perfect or above the touch of hypocrisy:

  • But working together, we can get rid of clothes in the closet that don’t fit (pause) and once again set our eyes on Promised Land.

Thank you Event Planners and Thank you All, for a Great Night.


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On September 26, 2007, ten plaintiffs filed suit in response to an arrest of aday laborers at a public park in Danbury, Connecticut. Plaintiffs amended their complaint on November 26, 2007.

The amended complaint states that plaintiffs sought to remedy the continued discriminatory and unauthorized enforcement of federal immigration laws against the Latino residents of the City of Danbury by Danbury's mayor and its police department.

Plaintiffs allege that the arrests violated their Fourth Amendment rights and the Connecticut Constitution because defendants conducted the arrests without valid warrants, in the absence of exigent circumstances, and without probable cause to believe that plaintiffs were engaged in unlawful activity. In addition, plaintiffs allege that defendants improperly stopped, detained, investigated, searched and arrested plaintiffs. Plaintiffs also allege that defendants violated their Fourteenth Amendment rights when they intentionally targeted plaintiffs, and arrested and detained them on the basis of their race, ethnicity and perceived national origin. Plaintiffs raise First Amendment, Due Process and tort claims.

Plaintiffs request declaratory relief, damages and attorneys fees.



Danbury Area Coalition for the Rights of Immigrants v.
U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security
3:06-cv-01992-RNC ( D. Conn. )

(02.25.08) Court docket

(10.24.07) Memorandum in Opposition to Defendant's Emergency Motion for Protective Order

(09.26.07) Press Release

(12.14.06) Complaint

Barrera v. Boughton, No. 07-01436
(D. Conn. filed Sept. 26, 2007)

(02.25.08) Court Docket

Amended complaint

Defendants' Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction

Defendants' Motion to Dismiss State Law Claims

Plaintiffs' Opposition to Motion to Dismiss

Order on Motion to Dismiss

Defendants' Answer to Amended Complaint

NEW HAVEN REGISTER: Immigrant's 2006 arrest was flawed Danbury mayor testifies

(10.05.07 (VIDEO) Boughton mislead the public about Danbury's involvement in raid

(09.18.07) Yale Law Students expose Danbury involvement in raid

(12.14.06) VIDEO: Interview with Yale Law Students at FOI presser

(12.14.06) VIDEO: Danbury 11 FOI complaint media roundup

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(10.03.06) VIDEO: Danbury 11 rally

(09.29.06) VIDEO: Danbury 11 case deepens

Word of raid spread across the country

(09/29/06) VIDEO: Danbury 11 protest news conference

(09/29/06) Immigrant newspaper "El Canillita" gives best account of ICE day labor raid at Kennedy Park

trans_button Santos Family Story
VIDEO: Tereza Pereira's ordeal with ICE agents

VIDEO: Danbury Peace Coalition Immigration Forum (April 2006)
featuring Mayor Boughton and Immigration attorney Philip Berns

VIDEO: 2007 Stop the Raids immigration forum at WCSU

2007: Community protest anti-immigration forum

A tribute to Hispanic Center Director and immigrant activist Maria Cinta Lowe

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