Guest statements

One year later: Drop the charges against Norman and Nate

February 4 marked the one-year anniversary of the unnecessary and brutal crackdown on a peaceful protest by the New Haven Police Department and Connecticut State Police. The February 4, 2017 protest was called by a number of organizations, including Unidad Latina en Acción, the ANSWER Coalition and the Party for Socialism and Liberation against the Trump administration’s Muslim ban and his plan to build a wall on the Mexican border. Activists, organizers and community members came together, representing many Connecticut cities and organizations.

A year later, ANSWER Coalition organizer Norman Clement and New Haven resident Nate Blair are still facing charges after being targeted and arrested at this event.

The event began with a speakout on the steps of New Haven City Hall, where organizers spoke against Trump’s Muslim ban, his immigration policy and the increasing right-wing, semi-fascist mobilizations that have been emboldened since the elections. As the speakout turned into a march through downtown New Haven, people chanted “One, two, three, four, we don’t want your border wall!” and “Immigrant & refugee rights are human rights!”

The march spontaneously entered the Route 34 connector in downtown, stopping traffic for approximately 30 minutes. When State Police arrived, they quickly brought out a vicious police dog who, at multiple times, attempted to jump on a legal observer and attorney who were in conversation with the police.

Police claim that an ambulance was blocked from getting to Yale-New Haven Hospital as a result of the protest. No ambulance was seen by anyone. An investigation by the New Haven Independent was not able to find any record of such a delay. Further, Norman Clement, who was on a microphone at the time, can be heard on video shouting “No one gets through except an ambulance,” when the crowd got to the highway. The march in fact did voluntarily leave the highway when a person said they did need to get through in a car.

When back in downtown New Haven, State and New Haven police worked together to kettle marchers at the corner of Church and Chapel Streets, pushing well over 100 people onto a narrow sidewalk. New Haven police then snatched Nate Blair from the march with multiple cops jumping on him. At the same time, State police attacked Norman Clement with mace and dogs, knocking down people on the sidewalk to brutally tackle him.

We consider it to be no coincidence that the two people arrested on February 4, 2017 were people of color. Norman Clement is Indigenous and Nate Blair is Black. We also consider it no coincidence that Norman was targeted for being a well-known organizer against war, police terror and for the rights of Native peoples. In addition to his work in Connecticut, he traveled twice to Standing Rock as a Water Protector.

A year later, both Nate and Norman continue to fight their charges. They have hired lawyers and been to court over a dozen times, costing significant money in fees and lost time at work.

The State’s Attorney, knowing there is no evidence to convict Norman and Nate of trumped-up charges, is purposely dragging these cases on to wear out both Norm and Nate and their public support. We demand that the charges against both be dropped immediately!

You can help by taking three steps:

1. Sign the petition  to drop the charges.

2. Call the office of the State’s Attorney at 203-503-6823 and demand they drop the charges.

3. Join a press conference on the courthouse steps at 9:30AM on Friday, February 23 at 121 Elm Street in New Haven.

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