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New Haven Senator Honored with Communist Party Amistad Award

The Connecticut People’s World Committee announced on Wednesday (Oct. 11) that Sen. Gary Winfield (D-New Haven) is slated to receive an award at its annual Amistad Awards on Saturday, Dec. 9. The gathering, hosted by the Communist Party USA (CPUSA), celebrates the organization’s 104th anniversary. 

CPUSA is honoring Sen. Winfield for being “a fearless defender of racial, economic and social justice,” as well as standing “in the forefront with groundbreaking legislation toward equity and a better life for his constituents and all working-class people in our state and nation.” 

Additionally, Stacie Harris-Byrdsong — President of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 4 — and Luis Luna, Husky 4 Immigrants Coalition Manager, are also set to receive awards. 

The committee said it was “honored to present the Amistad Award to three wonderful allies and working-class champions,” and that “together they represent the kind of unity, solidarity and vision needed to build the movement that can transform our country to put people, peace and planet before profits.” 

This is not the first time a prominent Connecticut official has been honored by the CPUSA. During the 2021 Amistad Awards ceremony, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), joined the program as a surprise guest to offer his congratulations and present the award winners with certificates of special recognition from the U.S. Senate.  

Among those receiving a certificate was Sen. Julie Kushner (D-Danbury), a former labor organizer for the United Auto Workers (UAW) and co-chair of the General Assembly’s Labor and Public Employees Committee. She received the award for her work on passing Connecticut’s $15 minimum wage, the paid family and medical leave program and her previous union organizing efforts with UAW. 

Following widespread criticism, Sen. Blumenthal denied knowing the event was sponsored by the Communist Party. He stated that had he been aware he would not have participated, adding that he was under the impression that the “ceremony was strictly a labor event.” 

Sen. Kushner also denied knowing there was any connection between the People’s Amistad Awards and the Communist Party. 

It will be hard for Sen. Winfield to use this same excuse as he has been part of previous CPUSA events. In 2022 he was an active participant in a panel discussion on race followed by a youth march and car caravan honoring Art Perlo, a lifelong communist and New Haven resident.  

Sen. Winfield was also part of the 2009 Amistad Awards where he and then-director Jon Green of the Working Families Party presented citations to Art Perry, Connecticut political director of the Service Employee International Union (SEIU) Local 32BJ. 

Past General Assembly member awardees also include teacher union boss and Sen. Jan Hochadel (D-Meriden), Rep. Robyn Porter (D-New Haven) and Edwin Vargas (D-Hartford). 

Meanwhile, in a recently surfaced video posted by Justine Medina of CPUSA, SEIU Executive Director of Connecticut State Council, Kooper Caraway is seen making controversial remarks praising individuals involved in the horrific attacks in Israel last weekend. In the video, Caraway refers to these individuals as “comrades.” Medina expresses her admiration for Caraway, labeling him as a true leader in Connecticut, and openly identifies him as her “comrade.” She states that Caraway is “a true leader in CT SEIU and CPUSA Labor Commission” and that she is “so proud” to call him her comrade. 

In the video, Caraway is shown speaking to a crowd and declaring that, “Our enemies are not in Gaza; our comrades are in Gaza.” 

The awards ceremony will be held at the First and Summerfield United Methodist Church at 425 College Street in New Haven. Ticket prices are $10 and $25. Given the content of the video, it remains to be seen whether Sen. Winfield will attend the event to accept his award. 

Other Recent Communist Awards winners: 

Leslie Blatteau – President, New Haven Federation of Teachers 

Rob Baril – President, SEIU 1199NE 

Wildaliz Bermudez – Executive Director, Fair Rent Commission City of New Haven 

Shellye Davis – Executive Vice President, Connecticut AFL-CIO 

Peggy Buchanan – Communications Director, CT AFL-CIO 

Dan Livingston – SEBAC Chief Negotiator 

This Week on Yankee’s Podcast Y CT Matters 

Harwinton’s First Selectman Michael Criss explains how a DCF shelter is failing teen girls and how the town has been impacted. 

Learn more about the ongoing problem in Marc Fitch’s report in Connecticut Inside Investigator, here. 

Click here to listen. 

Meghan Portfolio

Meghan worked in the private sector for two decades in various roles in management, sales, and project management. She was an intern on a presidential campaign and field organizer in a governor’s race. Meghan, a Connecticut native, joined Yankee Institute in 2019 as the Development Manager. After two years with Yankee, she has moved into the policy space as Yankee’s Manager of Research and Analysis. When she isn’t keeping up with local and current news, she enjoys running–having completed seven marathons–and reading her way through Modern Library’s 100 Best Novels.

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