Union members and supporters arrested at last Wednesday’s demonstration of civil disobedience will pay their fines to the state of Connecticut and not to the city of New Haven, a state law enforcement official said.
The 675 people who participated in the demonstration were each issued a ticket with a fine of $88 for creating a public disturbance, a violation of Connecticut state statute. Each participant was also assigned a date to appear in court.
Rhonda Stearley-Hebert, a spokeswoman for the Connecticut judicial branch, said much of the money collected from the fines will go toward municipal and police training but that the funds are not funneled to any specific city or town.
“The New Haven Police Department might be a beneficiary somewhere down the line,” she said. “None of the money goes directly to the New Haven police.”
The planned act of disobedience, in which participants blocked traffic on a two-block stretch of College Street, was held as Yale and its two largest unions, locals 34 and 35, negotiate contracts for nearly 4,000 Yale workers.
Union leaders planned the event in advance with the New Haven Police Department, submitting cards with personal information from all of the demonstrators who would be arrested. Police used the cards to fill out citations before the event, which they handed out in an orderly fashion after those involved were officially arrested.
New Haven Police brought in about 20 police officers and a number of civilian employees to help manage the demonstration.
Though traffic patterns in New Haven were back to normal shortly after the demonstration, the event left a lasting impression on many participants.
Union spokeswoman Deborah Chernoff said that for the unions the response to the event was overwhelmingly positive.
“People found the event very powerful and uplifting,” Chernoff said.
Ward 1 Alderman Ben Healey ’04, one of about 60 undergraduates who took part in the civil disobedience event, said he was moved by his experience.
“I thought it was incredibly powerful to have 800 people come together,” he said.
Healey added that he does not believe students who were arrested at the event should be forced to pay for demanding change at Yale.
“I’m hoping to take all the undergraduates together down to court to [ask for] community service from the judge instead of a fine,” he said.
Healey said that student participants are already fund raising in the event that the judge does not change the penalty.
“No undergraduate will pay the fine if it is a financial burden,” he said.
Aside from financial ramifications, participants said they hope that the event will impact labor relations at Yale.
Chernoff said that it is too soon to be able to tell how the demonstration will affect negotiations between Yale and its unions. The unions are also considering other job actions in the future, including a possible three-day walkout this fall.
“No one event is in itself going to create change in and of itself,” she said. “[This] is part of the bigger picture.”
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