Legislation for Lawyers for People Facing Eviction

Stephen Poland, Central CT DSA

In late December, a petition was launched by Central CT DSA that calls on Connecticut legislators to propose and pass Right to Counsel legislation guaranteeing the right to no-cost legal counsel to all residential tenants facing eviction proceedings.

Right To Counsel has dramatically reduced evictions in every municipality where it has passed the last several years, and Connecticut could be the first to pass it statewide.

In its first 10 days, the petition received over 500 signatures, with the campaign now including endorsements from over 30 progressive, community, and legal organizations from around the state. Central CT DSA, and the growing coalition of organizations supporting the petition, are now organizing to push for a Right To Counsel bill to be introduced and passed this legislative session.

Watch the launch event at:
https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=1029312514213805&ref=watch_permalink

Read, sign and share the petition at:
https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/right-to-counsel-for-evictions-in-connecticut

Justice for Mubarak Soulemane – One Year Later

Mike Merli, PAR reader

On Dec. 27, 2019, I took shahada at the Friday Jummah prayer at the Bridgeport Islamic Community Center, and officially converted to Islam, in public, in front of so many people. It was a beautiful moment, filled with love, and lots of hugging and happiness as I entered a new chapter in my life. Or, in many ways, began life anew.

Mubarak is a word, a name, a greeting we say, and a blessing we offer to each other, on joyous occasions, and holidays and on every Friday, which marks the most important day and prayer of the week, the Jummah prayer, or Friday afternoon prayer.

Eid Mubarak. Ramadan Mubarak. Jummah Mubarak.

I’ll never forget learning the name Mubarak Soulemane, shot and killed by Connecticut State Trooper Brian North on January 15, 2020. Less than a month after I converted to Islam.

Last Friday night, one week ago today, marked one year. To mark the anniversary, there was a vigil, a beautiful, and heartbreaking gathering at the site of Mubarak’s murder, on Campbell Avenue in West Haven. Mubarak’s family and friends were joined by community and neighbors who showed up in solidarity and support.

Justice for Mubarak organizer Kira Ortoleva spoke about meeting Mubarak as a student at Gateway Community College in New Haven. She talked about how they became best friends. She spoke of Mubarak’s heart, his generosity, the kindness with which he lived his life, and how much he cared about other people.

Mubarak’s mother Omo lifted her voice through so much pain, and in tears spoke about her son. Her family’s devastating and unimaginable loss was tangible and heartbreaking.

Other relatives of Mubarak’s spoke as well and illuminated his beautiful life for the world to see. His pursuit of business, his passion for sports.

West Haven-based organizer Farah Najjari emphasized the need for centering Black lives in this moment. As someone who is Muslim herself, she closed her powerful speech by addressing Mubarak’s family and saying, “Inna lillahi wa inna illahi rajioon” (“Verily we belong to Allah, and to Allah we return”).

There were chants of Black Lives Matter, and Justice for Mubarak that reverberated throughout that underpass that night, and inside each of us gathered there.

Middletown State’s Attorney Michael Gailor still hasn’t made a decision yet on whether or not he will charge Trooper Brian North for Mubarak’s murder.

We have to keep learning about Mubarak. We have to keep saying his name. We have to keep supporting his family, and fighting for justice.

To connect with the Justice for Mubarak movement and stay updated:
www.facebook.com/justiceformubarak
www.instagram.com/justiceformubarak

Mariyann Soulemane’s recent interview on Counterpoint with Scott Harris: btlonline.org/mariyann-soulemane-fights-for-justice-for-her-brother-slain-by-ct-state-police

My recent interview with Kira Ortoleva on WPKN’s Mic Check: soundcloud.com/wpkn895/mubarak-soulemanes-murder-by-ct-state-police-one-year-later

Department of Education Seeking Contact Tracing Support Staff

The Connecticut Department of Education is seeking to hire support staff for a K-12 contact tracing program, hoping to better control and monitor the potential spread of COVID-19 among students, staff, and faculty members. The contact tracing protocol involves finding individuals who came within close contact with infectious or potentially infectious individuals, isolating them, and voluntarily quarantining them. To apply, please fill out an application form at docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSclg9uTdIWRs51y7Z03uLPTP3VHsFkmlRyb6UntLJXX82J6mQ/viewform

Take Action for Safe Streets in CT

As part of the 2021 legislative session, H.B. No. 5429 has been introduced by the Transportation Committee and there was a public hearing Wednesday, January 27.

facebook.com/newhavenclimatechangemovement/photos.

What is H.B. No. 5429? This is an act concerning:

  • Pedestrian safety
  • Vision zero council
  • Speed limits in municipalities
  • Fines and charges for certain violations
  • The greenways commemorative account
  • Maintenance work zone and school zone safety enforcement

Go to http://cga.gov/asp/cgabillstatus for more information about this bill. Please share with your networks, call your reps and senators in support. Thank you for taking action!

COVID-19 Vaccine Information

By now, we hope PAR readers know that residents 75 years of age and older can get the COVID-19 vaccine. As of this printing, sometime in February, eligibility for the vaccine will be granted to people 65 years of age and older, front line workers, and people with underlying health conditions. Please call 2-1-1 for updated COVID-19 information. We want all of our readers to continue to wear masks and observe the recommended 6-feet anti-social distance guidelines. It won’t be for too much longer. Remember, it’s better to be patient than to be a patient.

The following notice was sent out by Sen. Martin Looney.

Those 75 and Older Can Now Register to Receive the COVID-19 Vaccine

The state’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts have now expanded to phase 1b, and as a result, Connecticut residents who are 75 years or older now qualify to receive vaccines. Due to limited supply of the vaccine, registering through an online or phone system will be necessary.

To register online, please visit the Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS). When accepted into the registration portal, you will receive emails detailing the next steps necessary in the scheduling process.

To register by phone, please call (877) 918-2224 during weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
For more information on Coronavirus and the vaccine, visit: https://portal.ct.gov/coronavirus. Or call the CT Virtual Assistant: (833) 250-7633. For those who are deaf or hard of hearing, please use 7-1-1 for relay services.

Climate, Covid, Capitalism: Connections and Context for the Next Stage of the Fight 2 p.m. Sunday Jan. 24, 2021

350 CT Fights for Climate Justice webinar

 

The fight to end the climate crisis cannot be viewed in isolation from the other major crises through which we are living. The same capitalist policy, and practice that have led us to the climate abyss have also unleashed a world of pandemics and economic hardship for the majority of the planet. All of these crises are are deepened by white supremacy. Come to discuss the context in which we must carry out the struggle for the emergency transition that can save us from an uninhabitable planet.

Panelists include:

Jeremy Brecher, author of “Strike: Commentaries on Solidarity and Survival,” a blog that can be found on the website of the Labor Network for Sustainability: Making a Living on a Living Planet.

Justin Farmer, a former candidate for CT State Senate whose Black Liberation Agenda and stance for ecojustice brought the issues of climate and racism to the fore.

Gregg Gonsalves, an epidemiologist at Yale, who worked for 30 year on HIV/AIDS and other global health issues with the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power and other organizations.

Elizabeth Henderson, Co-Chair Policy Committee, NY Northeast Organic Farming Association and advocate for an emergency agricultural Green New Deal.

Ben Martin, a leader of 350 CT and the CT Climate Crisis Mobilization who began his work as part of the DC direct action against the Keystone XL pipeline in 2011.

Rob Wallace, University of Minnesota,, author of Big Farms Make Big Flu: Dispatches on Influenza, Agribusiness, and the Nature of Science (2016).

Sponsored by the CT Climate Crisis Mobilization and 350CT

Jan 24, 2021 02:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

 

Para obtener más información o para pedir traducción al español
Email: contact@350CT.org; Call: (203) 350-3508

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

Help the Progressive Community. Become an Active Part of the PAR Newsletter Team!

To Our Readers:

The Progressive Action Roundtable is looking for someone who knows how to write clearly and has a good command of spelling and grammar. This person must also be interested in talking to local organizers about their groups and plans, and writing a couple of short articles (of approximately 300 words) for the monthly PAR newsletter. A small stipend will be available.

In addition, we would like more of our readers to become involved in working on the newsletter. We want to expand our Planning Committee and Production Team. Enhancement of our Facebook presence is also needed. Would you like to gather articles about local activities? Can you help with graphics? Are you a good proofreader?

If you’re interested in helping the PAR newsletter provide news about New Haven-area activism, please send an e-mail to parnewhaven@hotmail.org and let us know what you’re able to do to keep PAR promoting the work of the many wonderful progressive organizations in the New Haven area.

Thank you!

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.

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