Press Charges Against Officer Who Shot Mubarak Soulemane!

by Mike Merli, PAR reader

December 3, 2020. The night was brisk but full of righteous anger and collective grief as a chorus of voices cried for justice.

Mubarak Soulemane

We were gathered outside of City Hall in Middletown, to call on State’s Attorney Michael A. Gailor to do the right thing and bring charges against State Trooper Brian North for the Jan. 15, 2020 murder of Mubarak Soulemane.

Mubarak, at 19 years old, was suffering a schizophrenic mental health episode when State Police crashed him off Exit 43 in West Haven and boxed the car in. With no possible way to exit the vehicle, escape, or flee in any way, Connecticut State Trooper Brian North (a resident of Milford) made the decision to fire upon Mubarak execution-style. An act so evil that the word “murder” doesn’t even come close to capturing the horror of what was done to Mubarak that night.

And the horror his family and friends have been living with ever since.

The Justice for Mubarak movement has been going strong all across Connecticut since January 15, 2020, demanding justice for Mubi. The protests and events have been organized by Kira Ortoleva (who was best friends with Mubarak) and Mubarak’s family.

The fight was taken to Middletown strategically to apply pressure on State’s Attorney Gailor to hold North accountable.

To be clear, up to this point, Connecticut has had an essentially non-existent record of holding police accountable for the murders they commit: the officers who, in 2017, murdered Jayson Negron, Vincent “Kuda” Fowlkes, and Zoe Dowdell were not charged by the State’s Attorneys overseeing the investigations.

Today, as I write these words, the front page of the New Haven Register announces the news that the Ansonia Police officers who murdered Michael Gregory earlier this year will not face charges.

These compounding injustices won’t stop Mubarak’s friends, family, and community, that much is clear.
And two weeks ago in Middletown, there were powerful speeches from Kira Ortoleva, best friend to Mubarak and lead organizer with Justice for Mubarak; Mubarak’s sister Mariyanne and mother Omo; Jayson Negron’s sister Jazmarie Melendez, who continues to fight for justice for her brother Jayson in Bridgeport; Alyssa Hughes, poet/organizer from Waterbury; Amina Seyal from Abolition Ummah, a Muslim Women Of Color-led organization and the only abolitionist organization in Connecticut led by Muslims; and organizers with Black Lives Matter Greater New York, including Hawk Newsome.

The next #JusticeForMubarak action will be held at 4 p.m. on Jan. 15, the one-year anniversary of Mubarak’s murder. It will take place at the site where Mubarak was killed: Campbell Avenue in West Haven, off Exit 43.

For more information on the groups present on Dec. 3:

https://www.facebook.com/justiceformubarak

http://www.instagram.com/justiceformubarak

https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Community/Justice-for-Jayson-1554817064576339

www.instagram.com/justice4jayson

www.instagram.com/abolitionummah

https://www.facebook.com/blmgreaterny

www.instagram.com/blmgreaterny

www.twitter.com/blmgreaterny

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Students Rally For Green Jobs, Climate Justice

Courtney Luciana, NH Independent, Dec. 16, 2020

High school climate-change activists called on the city Wednesday afternoon to create a $1 million New Haven Climate Justice and Green Jobs Fund.

Courtney Luciana Photo
Climate Health Education Project (CHEP) high school interns.

The activists, interns with the Climate Health Education Project (CHEP), made that call in a press event held on the steps of the Elm Street courthouse.

The fund would hire staffers for clean-energy jobs, energy-efficiency education campaigns, “support neighborhood resiliency and greening programs,” and “fund increased climate justice education.”

“Connecticut is already being affected by climate change. The sea level in Connecticut is rising and the storms are becoming more severe,” Hopkins School sophomore Natalie Card (at right in above photo) said at the rally. “Extremely heavy storms have increased sea level by 70 percent since 1958 and will continue to keep rising.”

Students at the rally read aloud both personal and online posts from all around the world about climate change.

Read the whole article at https://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/sstudent_climate_change_rally

‘Occupy Yale’ Caravan Demands Yale Pay Its Fair Share of Taxes to the City of New Haven

Megan Fountain, Unidad Latina en Acción

More than 100 cars and 50 marchers on foot took the streets on Dec. 10 for a rally and car caravan to “Occupy Yale.” This action was sponsored by Unidad Latina en Acción (ULA), Black and Brown United in Action (BBUA), Hamden Action Now. Cars and marchers took over downtown New Haven and Yale campus to call on the university to pay its debt to the people of New Haven.  With the City facing a deficit of $13 million, Yale is closing the fiscal year with a surplus of $203 million and an endowment of $31.2 billion.

“Our people are going hungry and dying, jobs are scarce, some people are living in tents in the woods, and others are about to lose their homes” said John Lugo of Unidad Latina en Acción. “Will the City of New Haven cut jobs and slash essential services to subsidize Yale’s tax breaks?  Will renters and homeowners continue paying for the taxes that Yale doesn’t pay?”

Contact: Megan Fountain, megan@ulanewhaven.org, (203) 479-2959.

Mutual Aid in 2020

by Andy Piascek, peacenews.org, posted Dec. 18, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an increase in mutual aid activity and organizations. In Bridgeport, Connecticut where I live, a dozen or so people came together in March of 2020 to form Bridgeport Mutual Aid (BMA). A large percentage of Bridgeport’s residents are poor and many others who are not categorized as such were nonetheless struggling even before the pandemic. Their situations became more precarious when the state ordered many businesses to close, jobs were lost and people were advised not to socialize even with relatives living nearby. The elderly who are most vulnerable found themselves cut off from their usual social network of sons and daughters and grandchildren. When Bridgeport officials also suspended the city’s bus service, those without cars found it much more difficult to shop for groceries and other essentials.

BMA decided to provide food and other items like toilet paper, diapers and sanitary napkins to as many of those in need as possible. Most members had contacts of all kinds throughout the city, especially in poor and working-class neighborhoods, and drew on those contacts to spread the word about the project. Because of social distancing requirements and restrictions on travel, a decision was made to deliver the food since it was too dangerous to set up a central gathering place for people to come and pick up whatever they needed.

Anyone who requests aid gets it. New people have joined the effort and stores and retailers contribute food and other goods. Supporters contribute money that is used to buy any items that aren’t contributed and BMA also secured a small grant. People work whenever they can, whether it’s four times a week every week or once every four weeks. BMA members belong to the Bridgeport chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America and other organizations and participate in the work those and other groups in the area are doing.

One prime example of organizational overlap occurred in June when activists working to end police brutality established an encampment in front of police headquarters for ten days and nights. BMA folks have also been involved in the organizing against police brutality so it was only natural that BMA participated in both the encampment and in making sure the 50 or so people who were camping out every night had sufficient food. BMA members also helped to ensure that the encampment included portable bathrooms, a first aid tent, a library and entry points where face masks were given to anyone not wearing one.

The above is an excerpt. Read the entire article at http://peacenews.org/2020/12/18/mutualaidin2020andypiascik

Call Goes Out to Families of Victims as Homicide Memorial Opening Nears

by Rabhya Mehrotra, New Haven Independent, Nov 11, 2020

Marlene Miller-Pratt (at podium in photo) is asking New Haveners for help in finding the families of victims of fatal gun violence.

Rabhya Mehrotra photo

Standing in the shadow of West Rock on a sunny Tuesday afternoon, Miller-Pratt spoke at a press conference with Mayor Justin Elicker, announcing the near completion of the New Haven Botanical Garden of Healing she created and led to construction.

“Our goal is to get out the word to moms,” she said.

Along with a core group of fellow mothers of homicide victims, Miller-Pratt led the creation of the garden in West Hills. The garden honors homicide victims and provides a peaceful place for their loved ones to remember them…

Now construction is almost done: Urban Resources Initiative (URI) director Colleen Murphy-Dunning estimates that it will hopefully end before the start of 2021, although COVID may cause further delays.
Before the garden opens to the public, Miller-Pratt wants to extend an invitation for families affected by gun violence to come for a private viewing. They’ll be scheduled in advance for COVID safety, and last for 30 minutes. She’s especially focused on finding the families of victims whose names are on the Magnitude Walkway, which has a brick for each homicide victim from 1976-2000.

Over the last two weeks, Miller-Pratt has been going around the city with a poster, filled with the names of the victims. She has focused on Newhallville, while Celeste Robinson-Fulcher [whose daughter Ericka was killed in a nightclub shooting], and Pamela Jaynez (another member of the core group) have been going around Fair Haven.

When she stopped at corners, “I was ignored sometimes,” she said. But people spoke up “after they saw what that poster represented and saw how many names were on them.” One person, she said, turned straight around. He came back with four parents whose children were on that list. Another person saw the list and then lifted his arm to show his tattoo, which had his murdered cousin’s name. Yet others looked at the list and saw old friends.

Miller-Pratt gave out her phone number: (910) 975-2054. Any and every person who would like to schedule an early visit can contact her.

[Read the whole article at https://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/visit_homicide_memorial_soon]

People’s World Amistad Awards on Saturday, Dec. 12

by Joelle Fishman, Connecticut People’s World

This year’s People’s World Amistad Awards will take place on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020 at 4 p.m. as a virtual concert program, with printed greeting book mailed out to participants. The theme is United for the World We Want: Celebrating Resilience, Solidarity and Vision.

This year’s awardees are:

  • Barbara Vereen, staff director Unite Here Local 34 and Unite Here Black Leadership Group;
  • Rob Baril, president SEIU District 1199 New England;
  • Jan Hochadel, president AFT Connecticut; and
  • Councilwoman Wildaliz Bermudez, Working Families Party, Hartford.

We pay tribute in the fight for the rights of essential workers and all workers irregardless of immigration status during the COVID pandemic, the rise of the movement for Black lives, and the fight of our lives in the 2020 elections.

For information about logging on to the virtual concert or tickets, please email ct-pww@pobox.com or call (203) 624-4254.

War Resisters League Commends Kings Bay Plowshares

by War Resisters League

WRL thanks and honors the Kings Bay Plowshares 7, three of whom (Carmen Trotta, Martha Hennessy, and Clare Grady) were sentenced last week for their bold Trident disarmament action at the Kings Bay nuclear submarine base in south Georgia. Several of the Kings Bay Plowshares are WRL members and have participated in WRL organized nonviolent actions. All are war tax resisters.

50 years to the day after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., on April 4, 2018, over two and a half years ago, the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 cut a lock and entered the base where nuclear-armed US submarines are home-ported, in a plowshares action which included pouring blood, posting an indictment which charged the US government for crimes against peace, posting crime scene tape and hanging banners, one of which said, “The Ultimate Logic of Trident is Omnicide,” and damaging Trident D5 monuments. Plowshares actions seek to enact the prophecy in the Biblical book of Isaiah that nations will beat swords into plowshares and study war no more. [see their website at https://kingsbayplowshares7.org]

[This entire article can be read at www.warresisters.org. In October, all were convicted on three felonies and one misdemeanor. Six have been sentenced. Mark Colville of the Amistad Catholic Worker House in New Haven is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 18. More information is at the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 website at https://kingsbayplowshares7.org]

Kensington Playground: The Fight Is Not Over! Donations Needed to Support Legal Fight to Keep Playground from Being Sold

by Jane Comins, Friends of Kensington Playground

Friends of Kensington Playground is seeking donations to support our legal fight against the construction of housing and a parking lot on our largest public parkland.

The group is fighting the sale of Dwight’s Kensington Playground to The Community Builders for $1, which was approved by the New Haven Board of Alders in October so that 15 units of affordable rental housing and a surface parking lot can be built on the parkland.

The Friends group filed a complaint against the City of New Haven in Connecticut State Court. The complaint was based on the Connecticut Environmental Protection Act and Conn. Gen. Stat. §7-131n, known as the Park Replacement Statute, which requires that when a municipality takes park or open space land for other purposes, it must be replaced with parkland of equal size and value. §7-131n also requires a dedicated public hearing on the subject.

In addition, The Friends are also pursuing historic preservation and environmental issues under federal law because the playground is in the heart of the Dwight Street National Historic District and federal monies are being used by The Community Builders in the construction of the apartment building. The Friends asked the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) to review the proposed sale. The Hartford HUD Office has directed the City of New Haven Office of Management and Budget to consider the matter.

While the Friends understand that there is a need for affordable housing, we believe there is no reason to take our parkland for it. Loss of the mature trees in the Playground will hurt our air quality. Adults as well as children enjoy this outdoor space. The non-profit developer receiving the gift of this land has had a poor track record for decades.

The group is appealing to the community for donations to our GoFundMe Campaign to Save Kensington Playground to help with legal costs, and if they win, with a playscape. GoFundMe campaign link is: https://gf.me/u/y89852 or search for “Save Kensington Playground” on GoFundMe.com.

See www.KensingtonPlayground.org for additional details, and to sign our petition.

Gandhi Peace Award presented to two via Zoom

Dr. Zaher Sahloul, co-winner of the Gandhi Peace Award with White Helmet Mayson Almisri, holding his medallion made from “peace bronze,” metal recycled from nuclear weapons facilities. The award was given Nov. 21, 2020 via a Zoom program and was recorded. A link to the event is at the Promoting Enduring Peace website pepeace.org.

From Sahloul’s Twitter page:

I will be dedicating the #Gandhi peace award to the doctors and nurses who were killed in #Syria while on duty including Dr. Hasan Alaaraj, Dr. Majed Bari Dr. Wasim Moaz and 930 other healthcare workers @PEPeace #Gandhiaward @P4HR @hrw @MedGlobalOrg @UNOCHA

Stanley Heller talks about the Gandhi Peace Award ceremony on Saturday, Nov. 21 which this year was given jointly to Syrian-American Dr. Zaher Sahloul of Chicago and Mayson Almisri of the Syria Civil Defense, honoring the brave work of Syrian medical and rescue workers. The public worldwide could view the ceremony on Zoom without charge. The link to register is at the website PEPeace.org.

Source: 2020 Gandhi Peace Award Honors Syrian Humanitarian Aid Workers – BTL

Is There Any Hope for the USA?

by Mazin Qumsiyeh, former New Haven human rights activist, currently teaches and does research at Bethlehem and Birzeit Universities

When I lived in the US, I occasionally was shocked listening to right-wing talk shows like those of Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity or the vulgar non-sense of Howard Stern & Jerry Springer. Hollywood movies glorified violence and vilified Arabs and Muslims. Owners of the corporations that ran these media had two agendas: making money and helping Zionism. Now Fox News owned by Zionist Murdoch is even outflanked on the right by Newsmax and One America News (essentially fascist in orientation)! It is very sad. Palestinian and other Arab Americans who were/are visible or tried to do something were targeted. I was one of those. If you want to read a little about this, see http://qumsiyeh.org/thecaseisclosed/ and the below [see popular-resistance.blogspot.com 7/30/03] from fellow academic Thomas Nagy who decided to leave the (perhaps hopeless) USA to live abroad in 2003. I left the US in 2008 not because of pressure but because I thought I could serve humanity better in Zionist-occupied Palestine than in Zionist-occupied USA. In retrospect, that was the best decision of my life. But I still care about the US where I have family and thousands of friends and followers.

The mass movements like Black Lives Matter remind us of the movements in the 1960s that did change the US (after much turmoil). But the establishment gurus learned from these things and are certainly far more entrenched today than say at the time of Nixon and Kissinger. Obama’s first appointment as president-elect was for Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, a bigoted Zionist who put Israeli interests ahead of US interests. That is why in eight years, the Obama administration bombed many countries in the Arab world…

What is needed in the US is a system change so that politics respects the will of the people. The 350 million US citizens should not be forced by a rigged system to chose “the lesser of two evils”! The majority of citizens would not want the US to remain the “biggest purveyor of violence in the world” (words of Martin Luther King Jr.). They do not want billions of their tax money going to Israel.

[See popular-resistance.blogspot.com on Nov. 19, 2020 for the entire post reprinted here with permission from the author.]

Call for articles and calendar items for PAR-NewHaven

Dear PAR Contributors,

Been to any rallies lately? Please send us reports about activism you’re involved with, and what your organization’s upcoming plans are for our next issue of the Progressive Action Roundtable newsletter.

Thank you for your continued readership and support of the Progressive Action Roundtable newsletter. Readers want to know: What is the purpose of your organization? How are you building your group? What campaigns are you organizing? What events are you planning?

We want to publicize the workgroups have done and what they’re planning to do. We want to spread the word to others who will be inspired to join you, support your activism and build the struggles. Send us articles (even a paragraph or two) about what your group wants to do and any ideas for organizing! 350-word limit, please!

Please send articles about your group’s recent and current activities and upcoming actions and events to parnewhaven@hotmail.com.

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The deadline for the December Progressive Action Roundtable Newsletter is Tuesday, November 17.

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Indigenous Day Shifts from Columbus

by Thomas Breen, New Haven Independent, Oct 12, 2020

Richard Cowes lifted a wooden bear claw filled with smoldering white sage up to one side of Gary Tinney’s face and, whispering a prayer for peace, wafted the fragrant plume of smoke with a hawk feather.

Cowes and Tinney were celebrating Indigenous People’s Day along with 50 people late Monday afternoon on the New Haven Green.

Both Cowes and Tinney live in West Haven. Both are members of the Golden Hill Paugussetts. And both braved the blustery cold not just to celebrate Native American history and culture with a community of peers, but also to reflect on an extraordinary year of symbolic shifts.

In New Haven as elsewhere around the country this year, many of those changes have centered around a reappraisal of the legacy of the 15th-century explorer Christopher Columbus, with an eye towards the role he played in a white, European settler-led genocide of Native people.

Those local changes have included the Board of Education’s vote to rename Christopher Columbus Academy on Grand Avenue; the tumultuous removal of the Christopher Columbus statue from Wooster Square; the ed board’s renaming of Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples’ Day; the Board of Alders’ renaming of the second Monday of October as Italian Heritage Day; and the alders’ formal recognition of racism as a public health crisis.

“This struggle has been a long one,” said Norm Clement, a member of the local Quinnipiac tribe. “It’s been 528 years since colonization in this country.

“But we’re starting to win back who we are. We’re starting to be recognized. Some of the mascots are disappearing. The statues are disappearing. That is all part of the decolonization of this nation. We have to continue to celebrate who we are and what we represent and to do that in a good way.”

Read the full article here: www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/indigenous_peoples_day1.

State Launches $9 Million Arts Relief Fund

by Thomas Breen, New Haven Independent, Oct. 19, 2020

Arts nonprofits that have been pummeled by the COVID-19 pandemic have a new $9 million state relief fund to turn to for support in helping pay staff, cover student scholarships, and generally stay afloat during the ongoing economic downturn.

State Director of Arts, Preservation and Museums Liz Shapiro announced the imminent launch of the new financial aid effort Monday morning during a press conference held on the front steps of Neighborhood Music School on Audubon Street.

Flanked by Gov. Ned Lamont, Mayor Justin Elicker, and a host of state legislators and New Haven arts leaders, Shapiro said the COVID Relief Fund for the Arts will provide a baseline grant of $5,000 each for eligible recipients.

The fund will also provide a matching grant worth up to $750,000 each, as calculated at 50 percent of total private donations raised by an eligible organization between the start of the pandemic in early March and Nov. 1.

“Is this going to fix all things for all people?” asked Shapiro. “I don’t think we’re in a situation where we can fix all things for all nonprofits, all arts agencies, or all businesses. Is this going to help? Yes. Absolutely.”

The fund—which is made up of federal CARES Act money allocated by the state and which will be open to applications starting Friday and ending Nov. 3—is reserved for three specific types of arts nonprofit organizations: performing arts centers, performing groups, and schools of the arts.

Eligible organizations must show a documented loss of earned income of at least 20 percent year-to-date as of Sept. 30 in comparison to the same period last year. They have been established by Oct. 1, 2019. And they must have at least one full-time paid staff member, either salaried or contractual.

The complete article can be read online at https://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/state_arts_grant.

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