Tag Archives: refugees

Gordy parked in fashion … Worcester City Councilor Konnie Lukes backs Billy Breault’s proposed racist dragnet

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People against Billy Breault’s petition picketed his meeting.        photo: Gordon Davis

By Gordon Davis

Worcester City Councilor Konstantina (Konnie) Lukes has been a Worcester politician (serving on the Worcester school committee and city council) for almost 40 years. Lately, she has been scapegoating refugees and immigrants. In September 2016, at a Worcester City Council meeting, Lukes said, “We see signs here basically accusing us of being racist. I have yet to hear anybody tell me what I have done that is racist… Give me names, dates, times.”

Two months later, on November 15, 2016, Councilor Lukes voted to harass and terrorize immigrants and refugees. She targeted Muslims and Hispanic people. Lukes voted in favor of a petition before the Worcester City Council regarding the “financial” and “criminal” impact of newcomers to Worcester. The petition was drawn up by and is being pushed hard by William Breault.  Here is a small part of Breault’s petition – he wants the following from the city manager:  “… information from the City Administration on the financial impact incurred by the city for processing refugees or asylum seekers during the past five years, including the location of housing provided for them and the source of funding for that housing.”

Worcester city councilors Michael Gaffney,  Moe Bergman and Lukes signed onto this financial petition – how much money it costs the city to house and process newcomers and refugees.

Lukes was the sole Worcester city councilor who signed on to the criminal section of Breault’s petition. She voted to seek the records of immigrants arrested by the Worcester police.

Lukes could have acknowledged the positive impact that immigrants and refugees have on Worcester/America. She could have sought the number of hate crimes committed against  refugees and immigrants in Worcester. Instead, she sought the opposite.

Billy Breault, a longtime Main South resident, is known for many of his controversial, sometimes racist stances, such as trying to stop a funeral home from conducting the preparation of a Muslim man’s body for burial. On November 17, 2016, Breault tried to get support for his anti-refugee petition at a neighborhood meeting, which Lukes attended. Incredibly, instead of Councilor Lukes disowning Breault’s overtly racist petitions, she doubled down in her support of them. (Some folks have called Breault’s petitions Nazi policies.)

There was a protest outside Breault’s meeting – pushback by many people in the community, including  the groups Show Up Against Racism, the Progressive Labor Party and Catholic Worker. These groups and others held signs. One sign read: “Stop Nazis’ Hate and Lies”; another sign said “No Racist Immigration Laws.” Inside the meeting some people engaged Breault and Councilor Lukes in heated discussion.

Councilor Lukes’ stance reminds me of the recent racist rants made by the Governor of Maine, Paul LePage. Governor LePage has stated that Maine’s opioid crisis is caused by Black and Hispanic people moving to Maine from Massachusetts. He has used the word “niggers” and “cunts” in his racist and sexist rants.

Like Lukes, Governor LePage has asserted that he is not a racist and that the people who are calling him a racist are themselves racist.

A reporter in Maine, Gattine, said the following:

“LePage floated the remarkable notion that calling out racism is equivalent to using racist and sexist slurs during his radio interview Tuesday, saying that being called racist is ‘like calling a black man the ‘N’ word or a woman the ‘C’ word. It just absolutely knocked me off my feet.”

After 40 years of political life during which time she showed much paranoia and wallowed in sensationalism, it is time for City Councilor Konnie Lukes to retire. In response to Lukes’ stance on this latest issue, many of her opponents are preparing to resist her – and President Elect Donald Trump’s fascist policies of mass deportations and a Muslim registry.

Gordon is parked in Yum Yums cuz I want to post now!

The War in Afghanistan, President Obama and Worcester PeaceWorks

By Gordon Davis

President Obama has broken his promise to withdraw all U.S. combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2016.

This is not a surprise, but it is sad and it is discouraging. It means that the misery of war in Afghanistan will continue for an indefinite time. Only death, misery and refugees will be the product of the President’s decision.

When the United States went to war with Afghanistan in 2002 it was to avenge the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center. George Bush was President when the Taliban was defeated and Al Qaeda went into hiding.

Worcester PeaceWorks was formed immediately after 9-11 by many in the Worcester peace community. Claire and Scott Schaeffer Duffy and Kevin Ksen played major roles. We held rallies in Worcester and went to the huge, anti-war rally in New York City – a worldwide event in which millions of people participated.

Worcester PeaceWorks tried to get the Worcester City Council to pass a resolution against the War in Iraq when several soldiers from Worcester were killed. The City Council would not hear the petition, citing Rule 33 of the Worcester City Charter.

Since then President Obama has killed or captured almost all of Al Qaeda who were responsible for the 9-11 attacks and withdrew troops from Iraq.

Worcester PeaceWorks, for the most part, stopped functioning after President Obama’s election in 2008. The Worcester Catholic Worker movement, including Mike True and the Center for Non Violence, continued to have anti-war demonstrations at Lincoln Square. The Progressive Labor Party would every so often call for an end to “imperialism” – as it did during the beginning of the Civil War in Syria.

President Obama ordered a drawdown of forces from Afghanistan with the hope that a government friendly to the USA would be able to rule Afghanistan after the American troops leave.

This has not happened.

After more than 10 years no government set up by the USA has been strong enough to defeat the Taliban.

This effort at nation building in Afghanistan has proven a failure.

There is no clear American policy there except to protect the suspect American friend, President Hammid Karzai, living in Kabul.

The people of Afghanistan are suffering, as can be seen in the thousands of refugees seeking asylum in the European Union.

Killing people with drones has done more harm than good, especially when so many civilians are killed. There is an insight of another of the irony in one Nobel Peace Prize winner, President Obama, killing another Nobel Peace Prize winner, the International Doctors Without Borders.

It looks like we have lost in Afghanistan, like we did in Vietnam.

It is time we get out and take those who want to leave with us as refugees.

It makes no sense to continue with the misery of war when we cannot win. 

The USA has avenged the 9-11 attacks and punished the perpetrators. It is time to declare “mission accomplished” and stop the killing and misery.  

Unfortunately, many in the Peace community, including Worcester activists, do not want to oppose politicians who are considered to be “progressive” candidates. 

Like the BlackLives Matter activists, the peace activists should compel the candidates to declare their intentions with Afghanistan, Israel and Syria.