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

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!

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.]

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.

We Will Miss Mike DeRosa

by David Bedell, Green Party of Connecticut

Mike DeRosa died October 16 at Hartford Hospital after battling an extended illness. Mike was a founding member of the CT Green Party, working on the Nader for President campaigns back in 1996 and 2000. Even before that, he had a history of activism; he volunteered for the Eugene McCarthy campaign of 1976 and for Barry Commoner’s Citizens Party campaign of 1980.

Together with his wife Barbara Barry, Mike organized the Hartford chapter of the CT Green Party, and he served as co-chair of the state party from 2003 to 2020. As co-chair, he drew criticism for continually running for re-election and for holding the party to a strict set of ethical principles, but he was dedicated to the survival of the party, organizing meetings month after month for years, tape recording the proceedings to ensure transparency, and speaking forcefully against proposals that he felt would be harmful to the party’s integrity. He served on several national party committees, notably the Ballot Access Committee and the Peace Committee.

From 2000 to 2018, Mike ran ten times for public office, winning as much as 11% of the vote: four times for State Senate, twice for Congress, and four times for Secretary of State. In 2009-2010, he partnered with the ACLU to spearhead a legal challenge to CT’s Citizens Election Program, which discriminates against minor party candidates.

Mike produced a weekly public affairs radio program, “New Focus Radio,” for many years at WHUS, WWUH, and WESU, interviewing political activists and analysts both locally and nationally known.

Mike’s persistence, loyalty, and commitment to democracy will be missed in Connecticut’s political circles.

Statement from Green Party of Connecticut Candidate Justin Paglino

by Ronna Stuller, Secretary, Green Party of CT

A unity of local Green Party chapters, the Green Party of Connecticut is committed to grassroots democracy, social justice, non-violence and ecological wisdom. These are the Four Pillars of all Green parties worldwide.

Green Party candidates accept no PAC contributions, only donations from individuals. In this year’s election we are running over a dozen candidates in municipal, state, and federal elections all across Connecticut.

In this PAR article we feature a statement by Justin Paglino MD, PhD, of Guilford, who is our nominee for US House of Representatives in the Third Congressional District, the seat currently held by Rep. Rosa DeLauro. We invite readers to visit our website https://www.ctgreenparty.org to learn more about our positions and our candidates. We also invite readers to consider changing their voter registration to Green Party, and/or to consider visiting your local Green Party of Connecticut chapter to learn more and get involved. You will be most welcome.

Statement by Justin Paglino M.D. Ph.D., Green Party of CT candidate for US House of Representatives, CT-3:

This year I decided to run for US House of Representatives so that voters in my congressional district would have the option of voting for a representative who supports Medicare for All, Ranked Choice Voting, Reduced Military Spending, a bold Green New Deal with Carbon Pricing, Fracking Ban and Federal Jobs Guarantee, and other policies that my opponents in this race do not support. Many voters do, however, support these policies, and these issues need at least one candidate on the ballot who supports them, so that voters can show where they stand on these issues.

Unlike my opponents, but like most Americans, I support Medicare for All.   Single-payer healthcare will not only provide comprehensive healthcare without charge to all Americans, but will also save up to $500 billion a year thanks to efficiencies of scale and removing the profit motive from healthcare insurance.

Unlike my opponents, I am a strong advocate for Ranked Choice Voting (RCV), an electoral reform that ends two-party dominance by eliminating the spoiler effect.  RCV accomplishes this by allowing voters to rank their candidates in order of preference on the ballot. This reform exists now in Maine, where Lisa Savage is running as a Green Party candidate for US Senate; because of RCV, she will not act as a spoiler.

Unlike my opponents, I seek to rein in overblown Pentagon spending and redirect these funds towards the needs of Americans, including a Federal Jobs Guarantee. Rep. DeLauro, in contrast, this year voted YES for the $740 billion dollar Pentagon budget, and voted AGAINST a modest 10% cut (the Pocan amendment).

Unlike my opponents, I am willing to support bills that would enact the bold greenhouse gas-reducing policies that science calls for, such as HR763, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2019 (Carbon Tax and Dividend), or such as HR5857, the Ban Fracking Act. Neither bill is supported by our current representative.

I encourage PAR readers: always vote for what you want, not only against what you fear. If you want something, you have to vote for it, or you’ll never get it. There is a way out of the two-party system – it’s Ranked Choice Voting – but first you have to show you are willing to vote for it.

Please visit me at justin4all.org, e-mail me at justin@justin4all.org. Follow me on facebook/justin4all, twitter/justin4all2, insta/justinpaglino, youtube/justin4all.

And thank you to all you progressive activists!

– Justin Paglino M.D. Ph.D.

New Haven residents paint Black Lives Matter mural on Bassett Street | New Haven Register

Residents came together to emblazon the words on the street Saturday, painting them brightly and boldly so the world could see: Black Lives Matter.

The community mural, the first planned in New Haven, was welcomed by the city of New Haven Department of Arts and Cultural Affairs, in conjunction with Black Lives Matter New Haven, community organizers, and local artist Kwadwo Adae, according to a release from city spokesman Gage Frank.

Ala Ochumare and Sun Queen, co-founders of Black Lives Matter New Haven, said they wanted to help organize the project to help residents be in community with one another, share art and affirm the idea that the lives of Black people are valuable, with an equal claim to dignity and respect.

Read the article at The New Haven Register: New Haven residents paint Black Lives Matter mural on Bassett Street – New Haven Register

Breonna Taylor March Shuts Down Whalley Ave | Thomas Breen New Haven Independent

Thomas Breen photos Protest dance party breaks out at Whalley and Sherman.

Read the whole story and see all the photos here:

https://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/breonna_taylor_march/

Two dozen young, Black women jumped and danced and sang in the middle of the intersection of Whalley Avenue and Sherman Avenue as several hundred fellow protesters sat in the street and blocked traffic on all sides.

“Black women matter!” the group cheered, a portrait of Breonna Taylor held aloft nearby. “Black women matter!”

That spontaneous, cathartic 10-minute dance party came more than two hours into a Thursday evening rally organized by Black Lives Matter New Haven in honor of Taylor.

Taking place well after the sun had set, with cars honking—some in frustration, some in support—all around the island of protesters, the moment represented the emotional climax of four-hour action filled with grief, outrage, joy, indignation, and an intensely political thirst for justice.

The catalyst for Thursday’s march was a Kentucky grand jury’s decision the day before to not charge the officers who shot and killed Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical technician, in her Louisville home in March during a botched drug raid. The only indictment the grand jury did hand down was a charge of wanton endangerment against a now-former detective who shot into Taylor’s neighboring apartments. The grand jury decision has sparked demonstrations throughout the country.

Thursday’s demonstration in New Haven brought together roughly 300 people to the Green—and then into the streets, for three-and-a-half hours of marching and mourning and chanting and blocking of traffic.

Read the full article at https://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/breonna_taylor_march/

Alternative News Site for West Haven Forms

Stanley Heller, activist, West Haven resident

Faced with stony-hearted politicians and police in West Haven and virtually no coverage in the local free paper of the killing of Mubarak Soulemane in January or the July 5 use of police dogs on protesters, I decided to start a West Haven news site, The West Haven Call. Right now the modest sections are Justice, Climate, Schools, UNH, Health, Photos, Feeds, Instagram, Riseup, Jigsaws, and Memes. The site is found at https://westhavencall.com. We tweet @WestHavenC.

I’m looking for volunteers to help out with the site.  Reach me at westhavencall@gmail.com.  We’re a news site that salutes the Black Lives Matter Uprising and calls for an end to white supremacy and a world ruled by greed and climate destruction.

Statue Readied to Honor ‘Black Governor’

Thomas Breen, New Haven Independent, July 10, 2020

A seven-foot-tall bronze statue of William “King” Lanson will soon stand along the Farmington Canal — giving a permanent, public, and highly visible form to a Black New Havener who helped build the modern city. The Lanson statue represents the culmination of a decade’s worth of advocacy by the Amistad Committee, working in recent years with the City Plan Department to make the memorial a reality.

The public artwork will honor the early 19th-century local engineer, entrepreneur, and Black political leader who freed himself from slavery, built a section of the Farmington Canal, and constructed an extension of Long Wharf that allowed for the local port to rival New York’s.

He was also elected “Black governor” in 1825, helped found what is now Dixwell Congregational Church, owned land and ran businesses on what is now Wooster Square — and, after encountering opposition from white authorities and the business establishment, died in the poorhouse.

The plan is for the statue to be unveiled Sept. 26 at 11 a.m. on a grassy, city-owned plot near the Farmington Canal and Lock Street, in between the Yale Health Center and Yale’s Benjamin Franklin and Pauli Murray Colleges.

According to a presentation by City Plan Director Aïcha Woods during Monday’s Cultural Affairs Commission meeting, the city-commissioned statue will be one part of an “interpretative landscape” and larger memorial along the Farmington Canal that will be “dedicated to the history of William Lanson.”

Read more at the NHIndependent: www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/william_lanson_sculpture

It’s Time to Demand Gender Parity in Our Governance! Demand Equality Now!!

by Frank Rohrig, Octogenarian/Feminist and PAR subscriber

[Frank Rohrig is in the process of forming a 501(c)(3) organization to ensure that in all levels of government, women and men will be represented equally: “complete unequivocal gender equality/parity in the decision-making process in the governance of your community-state-federal government.” He has asked PAR to print his article so that our readers can become familiar with his work and help him with his organizing.]

The time has come to recognize that the evolution of humanity, nations and nation-states require the immediate transformative transition towards Egalitarian virtues and the full and equal participation of women in the governance of all civilized societies for their very future salvation. Our Democracy has been hijacked and pillaged to satisfy the insatiable need for power and greed by a segment of our society that has maliciously disregarded the circle of virtuosity that helped create this nation’s “middle class.”

The mutually-beneficial collaborative efforts by our financial sector and Corporatocracies have ruthlessly over a period of several decades converted a once-proud, growing society into an unequivocal corrupt Plutocracy.

The denial of women by males in every sector and facet of societal involvement shall no longer be a consideration of our forbearance because it has proven to be somewhat chauvinistic and wrong-headed, along with twenty-seven other amendments to the Constitution that required change to comport to more Egalitarian virtues.

In light of the extreme ideological and theocratic movements to reverse the rights long ago fought for and won, including Civil Rights and Women’s Rights, the zealots amongst us continue with their underhanded, discriminatory and unjustified quests to deny others that Egalitarian Society promised within our Constitution at its inception.

The justified essential movement for Gender Parity has never been as important as it is today given the intentions and actions of a growing segment of the male population that won’t be content until the return of a Patriarchal Society that enables them to dictate to others because of their perceived superiority. This kind of thinking isn’t confined to just other distant cultures but remains within the Puritanical thinking of religious zealots amongst us. Nothing less than GENDER PARITY (50% male and 50% female) in the makeup of all taxpayer-funded areas of governance and oversight within the smallest of communities, state houses and U.S. Senate and Congress shall suffice. It shall be through the equally-weighted voices of our females where we can attain a society with greater shared interests beneficial to all our citizenry.

For more information, please call Frank Rohrig at (203) 877-2492. Mail can be sent to 541 Naugatuck Ave., Milford, CT 06460.

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