‘This Time It Must Be Different’: Hundreds March Through New Haven and Yale After Black Man Is Paralyzed in NHPD Custody

Yash Roy, Yale Daily News, Jul 11, 2022

A June 19th arrest resulted in the serious injury and paralysis of Randy Cox, a 36-year-old Newhallville resident. Hundreds marched through downtown New Haven Friday evening [July 8] to demand structural changes to New Haven Police Department policy and criminal charges against police officers after a Black man was paralyzed in their custody.

Randy Cox, a 36-year-old Newhallville resident, was attending a block party on June 19 when he was arrested for illegal possession of a firearm. He was injured while being transported by New Haven police officers after they put him in the back of an NHPD transport vehicle that did not have seatbelts and abruptly stopped the car to avoid an accident. Cox remains paralyzed from the chest down and cannot speak, according to his family.

“I want justice for my son,” Doreen Coleman, Cox’s mother, told the News at the protest. “I want the cops to be held to account, whether that be their dismissal or criminal charges. My baby can’t speak, he has a tube in his mouth and he can’t walk.”

The rally was organized by the state NAACP chapter and Cox’s family, who demanded that officers involved be criminally prosecuted. Ben Crump, who was a lawyer for George Floyd’s family, is the Cox family’s lead attorney.

Cox was paralyzed after NHPD officers put him into the back of a police van without a seatbelt. According to body cam footage released by NHPD and posted online by the New Haven Independent, transport officer Oscar Diaz abruptly stopped the vehicle and Cox was thrown to the front of the holding area in the back of the van.

Cox called out, saying he was hurt and banged on the dividing wall. The officer checked on him almost four minutes later, called an ambulance and then continued driving to central holding, in contravention of NHPD policy, which requires officers to stay put after calling for medical assistance for a detainee.

At holding, after Cox told the officers he could not move, he was forcibly carried to a holding cell. At one point in body cam footage, Cox says he can’t move and is told by another officer that “you weren’t even trying.” One officer suggested that Cox could not move because he “drank too much,” according to body cam footage.

Read the entire article at https://yaledailynews.com/blog/2022/07/11/this-time-it-must-be-different-hundreds-march-through-new-haven-and-yale-after-black-man-is-paralyzed-in-nhpd-custody

In Wake Of Cox Case, Looney Vows To Reintroduce Medical-Aid Bill; March is Planned

by Paul Bass, New Haven Independent

After what happened to Richard ​Randy” Cox, New Haven State Sen. Martin Looney said, he has new evidence to support passage of a state law requiring ​immediate emergency medical services to an individual who experiences a health emergency” while in police custody.

Looney, the State Senate’s president pro tempore, proposed such a law in this year’s legislative session: Senate Bill 445, An Act Concerning the Provision of Emergency Medical Services to an Individual Who Is in the Custody or Control of a Peace Officer.

The Senate passed the bill 34 – 0 on April 26.

But it never made it to the floor of the state House of Representatives. So the bill died. It didn’t become law.

Then, on June 19, Richard Cox’s head slammed against the wall of a police conveyance van when the driver slammed on the brakes. He injured his neck and back; he couldn’t move. Rather than get him immediate attention, the cops brought the 36-year-old New Haven man to the lock-up, ordered him to stand, accused him of lying about his injuries, placed him in a wheelchair, then dragged him on the floor to a cell, before an ambulance crew took him to the hospital.

Read more here: In Wake Of Cox Case, Looney Vows To Reintroduce Medical-Aid Bill 

New Haven Montessori School invites public to join in humanistic action 1 p.m. May 26

At 1 p.m.m Thursday, May 26, 2022, the 4th-7th grade students of Elm City Montessori School (a PreK3-7th grade public school in New Haven, anchored in our Anti-Bias Anti-Racist Montessori philosophy) will again be planning and leading an action at the corner of Whalley and West Rock Ave (Closest Address: 838 Whalley Ave, New Haven). We’ve invited neighborhood schools and the general public to join us, details here: bit.ly/childrensmarch22, flyer attached. There will be parallel actions in PreK-3rd grade classrooms earlier in the day. Here’s some press coverage from last year: Arts Paper: Children’s March Taps Into Civil Rights History, and from the New Haven Independent NHI: 1963 Children’s March Commemorated.

Our students have been working to focus on projects of passion, to study themes of social justice that personally resonate (ex. LGBTQ advocacy, climate change, police brutality, affordable housing). Some classrooms are specifically studying the history of the Birmingham Children’s Crusade of 1963. Students will create posters, others may write speeches, all will march together in solidarity with each other and their visions for the future.

Children from several New Haven schools will gather and share their vision for our community, our city, our world. Join us to listen, spotlight, and elevate what our children see.

Co-sponsored by Edgewood Creative Thinking through STEAM Magnet School, L.W. Beecher Museum Magnet School of Arts and Sciences, High School in the Community, Common Ground High School, Mauro-Sheridan Interdistrict Magnet School, Black Lives Matter New Haven, New Haven Pride Center, Citywide Youth Coalition, City of New Haven LGBTQ Youth Task Force, New Haven Climate Movement, Westville Village Renaissance Alliance, Semilla Collective, and Students for Educational Justice.

Cop Arrested For Killing Mubarak Soulemane

by Thomas Breen, New Haven Indedepndent, April 20, 2022

More than two years and three months after state trooper Brian North shot and killed New Haven teenager Mubarak Soulemane, the state has wrapped up its investigation of the case — and has arrested and charged the law enforcement officer with one count of first-degree manslaughter.

Inspector General Robert J. Devlin, Jr. made that announcement in a Wednesday morning press release. The press release states that North was released on a $50,000 bond and is expected to appear in Milford Superior Court on May 3.

The email announcement was also accompanied by a 133-page report that describes in detail the investigation that led to North’s arrest. The charges stem from the shooting death of Soulemane, a 19-year-old Fair Haven resident and child of Ghanian immigrants, on Jan. 15, 2020. That’s when state troopers engaged in a car chase with Soulemane up I‐95 while the New Havener was in the grip of an apparent schizophrenic episode.

“On January 15, 2020, at approximately 5:05 p.m. on Campbell Avenue, West Haven, Connecticut, after an extended pursuit on I‐95, Connecticut State Troopers Brian North, Joshua Jackson, and Ross Dalling successfully stopped a stolen 2012 Hyundai Sonata being operated by Mubarak Soulemane,” the introduction to the investigation reads. “The troopers’ police vehicles effectively blocked in the Hyundai. Shortly after the stop, Trooper North fired seven shots through the driver’s side window of the Hyun-dai. The bullets struck and killed Soulemane who was seated in the driver’s seat holding a knife.”

Thomas Breen Photo

Ultimately, at the time that North fired his weapon, “neither he nor any other person was in imminent danger of serious injury or death from a knife attack at the hands of Soule-mane,” Devlin’s report continues. “Further, any belief that persons were in such danger was not reasonable. I therefore find that North’s use of deadly force was not justified under Connecticut law.”

[This article can be read in its entirety at www.newhavenindependent.org/article/brian_north_arrest]

MAKING GOOD TROUBLE: Together We Rise for a Hopeful Future

by People’s World Amistad Awards Committee

This year’s People’s World Amistad Awards will be held Saturday, Dec. 11 at 4 p.m. as a virtual program, with printed greeting book mailed to participants. The theme is MAKING GOOD TROUBLE: Together We Rise for a Hopeful Future.

Register here.

This year’s awardees are in the forefront of fighting for the rights of essential workers and all workers regardless of immigration status during the COVID pandemic, and organizing for spending priorities that address racial equity, climate change, voting rights and the common good. 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.

State Sen. Julie Kushner, Senate Chair of the Labor and Public Employees Committee, is a lifelong organizer and coalition-builder for worker rights, the first woman director of UAW Region 9-A, and an outstanding legislative champion winning paid family and medical leave, raising the minimum wage, climate and jobs legislation, COVID recall rights, and racial and gender equity.

Pastor Rodney Wade, Senior Pastor of Long Hill Bible Church in Waterbury, is a tireless and fearless leader for equity and justice, a faith leader of the state-wide Recovery for All coalition of labor, community and faith-based organizations united to eliminate systemic inequalities, and with Naugatuck Valley Project and other groups, providing hope and inspiration to the community.

Azucena Santiago is a courageous leader with 32BJ SEIU in the fight for union rights and health protections for service plaza workers. When McDonald’s reduced her hours after she began organizing her co-workers, Azucena filed a complaint with the NLRB and won back pay. She has testified before the State Legislature, led marches and rallies, and is the mother of two.

Plus we will feature a special “IN SOLIDARITY” with the contract fight of unions at Yale, and the AFT/community struggle to keep maternity services at Windham Hospital. The Awards are hosted by CT People’s World on the occasion of the 102nd anniversary of the Communist Party USA. Spanish language interpretation will be available.

For greeting book and ticket information, please call (203) 624-4254 or email CT-PWW@pobox.com. The deadline for ad book submissions is Nov. 20.

Register here.

In Solidarity,
People’s World Amistad Awards Committee

New Haven March Protests Police Violence | Jake Dressler, New Haven Independent

April 18, 2021

Civil rights activists marched from City Hall to Yale Police Department headquarters to protest the recent police killings of Daunte Wright and Adam Toledo in the Midwest. Dozens of marchers blocked traffic on Ashmun Street as they listened to community organizers speak out against police violence.

Jake Dressler photo

“Screw reform,” shouted Sunrise New Haven member Jaeana Bethea. “We need to put money into affordable health care and jobs. The cops are reactionary. We need to defund and abolish the police! We keep us safe! Mayor Elicker wants to complain about the dirt bikes in the neighborhood when there are much bigger problems!”

The demonstration was organized by the local Democratic Socialists of America chapter and Hamden Council member Justin Farmer in response to two police shootings that occurred earlier [in the] week and that resulted in the deaths of Wright and Toledo.

Wright was killed on April 11 in Brooklyn Center, Minn.–just miles away from where former police officer Derek Chauvin stood trial for the murder of George Floyd last spring. Wright died after police officer Kimberley Potter mistook her handgun for a taser and open fire.

Toledo, a 13-year-old boy, was killed on March 13 in Chicago when officer Eric Stillman allegedly believed Toledo was hiding a gun and shot at him during a foot chase. Video footage of the incident shows that the boy had his hands up at the time he was shot.

“I think it’s important for lawyers to step up and play their part in ending police brutality and civil rights violations,” said defense attorney Alex Taubes. “The protest rally today was not just about George Floyd, Daunte Wright, and Adam Toledo, but also Malik Jones, Jayson Negron, Mubarak Soulemane, and the victims of police brutality in Connecticut whose loved ones still seek justice.”

Read the entire article at www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/protest3

 

Temporary Rental Housing Assistance Program: UniteCT Information

by Tebben Lopez, Neighborhood Housing Services

As the COVID-19 pandemic systematically shut down businesses and caused many people to lose their jobs, the consequence of mass eviction loomed larger each month.

“With the severity of the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Temporary Rental Housing Assistance Program (TRHAP), administered by the Department of Housing (DOH), was a critically needed tool to address a catastrophic need,” Managing Director of the HomeOwnership Center, Bridgette Russell, explained, “Renters facing job loss and furloughs were suddenly unable to pay their rent, and TRHAP, along with the Governor’s mandated eviction moratorium, provided a short-term solution to quell an impending eviction tsunami.”

With the assistance of selected administrators and NHS of New Haven’s HomeOwnership Center, the state got to work distributing the funds. The Governor first set aside $10 million that grew in short order to $40 million by the end of the temporary assistance program in December.

The HOC began to work with individuals assigned to their department to bring them up to $4,000 in order to help them with back rent and forward-facing rent. In total, NHS assisted 448 families with over $1,415,000 in assistance. “After COVID-19 shut down my work, I was in a panic,” Monika C. shared. The program came at the perfect time, helping with her rent, and she was grateful to be accepted. “A huge thank you to NHS of New Haven and the Department of Housing for helping me through the process!”

“Helping tenants and landlords submit applications for the Temporary Rental Housing Assistance Program was deeply meaningful and often very moving work,” HOC Coordinator, Robin Ladouceur, reflected. “The range of applicants with whom I worked was broad – from the older man who lost his job and could not find a new one in a job market that privileges youth; to the single mom of two who received a cancer diagnosis in the midst of the pandemic; to a young new mother faced with raising her daughter alone; to all the countless families touched by COVID-19.”

The prolonged nature of the pandemic means that the scale of need for rental assistance was and continues to be staggering. “At least 3-5 times per week I receive inquiries from individuals who passed through the TRHAP program asking if there are other ways to receive assistance, Robin said. “I am grateful to be able to say that a new State of Connecticut Department of Housing Rental Assistance Program will be commencing in March and everyone who went through TRHAP may be eligible to apply. More help is on the way!”

Tebben Lopez, Communications Specialist
(203) 562-0598 x224, 333 Sherman Ave. New Haven
www.nhsofnewhaven.org
@NHSofNewHaven

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

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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