City officials, community leaders and New Haven residents gathered in front of City Hall to mark the International Day of Peace at midday on Monday.
The celebration featured music from the instrumental and string ensembles of Betsy Ross Arts Magnet School, speeches from local dignitaries and a ringing of the church bells to commemorate the occasion. Held in front of the historic Amistad Memorial on Church Street — a monument to the slaves who mutinied and sailed to New Haven, where they won their freedom — the speakers underscored the symbolic weight of the event, coming at a time when the notion of world peace is becoming more and more fragile.
“Today we are joining with millions of people throughout the world — millions of people who are calling for peace,” said Alfred Marder, chair of the City Peace Commission and president of the Amistad Committee, a non-profit organization committed to promoting racial justice. “At the same time, there are millions of people fleeing their countries, looking for safety and security.”
Asserting that 57 percent of each taxpayer dollar goes towards “killing machines,” Marder called on the federal government to redirect those taxes towards solving problems such as the Church Street South relocations and the city’s 14 percent unemployment rate.
Other speakers echoed Marder’s sentiment. Alice Forrester, the director of the Clifford Beers clinic, a mental health clinic serving children and families in Greater New Haven, said fighting for peace in the city is a daily process: one that involves combating the legacy of violence, trauma and abuses in the household.
“We must not respond to rage with rage,” she said. “We must teach our children these skills of emotional expression and we must remember them ourselves.”
Forrester pointed to restorative justice programs — which focus more on conflict resolution than on punishment — in the city’s public schools, as well as efforts to reduce endemic unemployment, as prime ways of establishing peace. Invoking the Syrian refugee crisis currently embroiling the European Union, she called on Elm City Residents to come together and make their “extraordinary” city into an “asylum for those who need it.”
Those restorative justice programs have become common in New Haven Public Schools, the superintendent of which, Garth Harries ’95, also attended the event.
Harries described education as a process of creating and inculcating a sense of peace in students. More than simply a means to pass tests or acquire factual knowledge, education must also teach students to appreciate the values that each person can bring to civil society, he added.
“We are working to make sure not just that we have students who can perform well in college, career and life, but also that we have students who can play beautiful music,” Harries said. “We have righteousness on our side.”
Wayne Andrighetti, the former executive director of the London-based Ernst and Young Advisory Services, said New Haven must live up to the creed of the International Day of Peace: “Partnerships for Peace, Dignity for All.”
“Make every day peace day,” Andrighetti said in conclusion. “The world is counting on you.”
Correction: Sep. 23
A previous version of this article stated that Wayne Andrighetti was speaking on behalf of the United Nations, when in fact his words expressed only his own opinions. The article also misstated Andrighetti’s current employment — he left Ernst and Young approximately two years ago.