New Haven groups call for boycott of “Goodfellas” restaurant which they say kept thousands in wages repeatedly from workers. Picket, interview with former worker and press conference.
Complaint filed against New Haven cops over Goodfellas protest
Saturday, January 22, 2011
New Haven Register
By William Kaempffer
NEW HAVEN — Local labor advocates filed an internal affairs complaint against police Friday, claiming a sergeant implicitly threatened that protesters outside a State Street eatery could be “blacklisted” for employment by other restaurants.
The complaint was filed Friday with police, according to the New Haven Workers Association. The group claims that peaceful demonstrators outside Cafe Goodfellas on New Year’s Eve were intimidated by police and told that the owner of Goodfellas “could use the police report to put protesters’ names on a ‘blacklist’ … so that no business would hire them,” the group said Friday. At the protest, the group had been calling for a public boycott of Goodfellas because it allegedly owed its workers more than $23,000 in unpaid wages.
“This kind of intimidation has no place in a democratic society,” said John Lugo, a protest organizer. “In this economy, nobody can risk being put on a ‘blacklist’ simply for demanding that their boss pay the minimum wage that is required by Connecticut law.”
The group also claimed Goodfellas owner Gennaro Iannacone threatened to spray people with a fire extinguisher during a protest earlier in December.
A person who answered the phone Friday at the restaurant said the owner had no comment.
The New Haven Workers Association, which is affiliated with advocacy group Unidad Latina en Accion, says it protects the rights of workers against wage theft, discrimination and harassment through legal actions and protests.
City spokeswoman Jessica Mayorga said in a statement, “The New Haven Police Department respects the constitutional rights of all. Any complaints that are filed will be reviewed and addressed accordingly.”
As for allegations that people were threatened with arrest if they didn’t have a city permit for the protest, Mayorga said it would be difficult to say whether one was required “without a thorough review of all the facts.”
Lugo alleges that a group of officers and a prisoner van responded to the protest. He stated a supervisor told the demonstrators that if they continued the protest they could destroy the business, which would be good for no one.
While the sergeant said he wasn’t going to arrest anyone, he said he was going to write an incident report.
Lugo claimed the sergeant went on to say that New Haven businesses could obtain the report through the Freedom of Information Act and create a blacklist of the protesters so no one would hire them. Lugo indicated he said that “sounded like a threat,” but the sergeant responded that he was just trying to ensure public safety.
Members of the group stated that they inquired with the city and were told that no permit was required for a “moving picket line on the sidewalk.”
The state Department of Labor Friday said it had no complaints against Cafe Goodfellas. The U.S. Department of Labor could not be reached after hours.