On November 25, 300 people took the streets of downtown New Haven the day after the grand jury announced they would not indict Darren Wilson for the murder of Mike Brown. The march started with a rally at the New Haven green, at which many members of the community spoke about their experiences with police brutality. Many of those present had either been assaulted by officers themselves or lost loved ones to police violence.
Kerry Ellington, a long-time organizer against police brutality in New Haven, made connections between the systemic police violence that happens across the country, with New Haven being no exception. “We have a sister named Monique Hayes who was taken into a jail cell and murdered, and we have yet to find out what happened to that sister,” Ellington said. “We have a brother named Oscar Rivera who was murdered by cops on Grand Avenue, and he has yet to receive justice. So we ain’t letting you off the hook, NHPD.”
Ellington referenced the “surge” tactics being newly employed by New Haven police officers in brutal attempts to clear gentrified areas of people of color.
Hernan, a young man who had come to the rally with a group of friends, told a horrifying tale of a group of ten cops attacking him and bloodying his face the previous day.
Norman Clement, an Indigenous organizer and PSL member, said: “There is a river of blood from Plymouth Rock to Ferguson tonight. It has been there since this nation’s inception.” Clement went on to discuss the history of the police and military — institutions created to catch runaway slaves and massacre Indigenous people. He urged the people to take action and continue fighting for one another. The community agreed that police brutality is an epidemic of racist oppression throughout the country and can only be struck down through a militant fightback movement in the streets.
As the march began, police tried to keep it on the sidewalks, but the youth at the front persisted and successfully took over and shut down entire streets of New Haven, while marching through busy downtown areas. Chants included “Wake up, downtown! Justice for Mike Brown!”, “No justice, no peace, no racist police!” and “Hands up, don’t shoot!”
The youth led the march back to the green and held a second speakout at the Amistad Memorial. Emma Jones, whose son Malik was killed by police 17 years ago, congratulated the rally and said, “You are perfectly capable of policing yourselves.” Jones has been a veteran fighter against police brutality in New Haven and has been trying to get justice for her son since the day he was gunned down. She has also been working with organizers in New Haven to implement an independent all-civilian review board to have power over the racist police department in the city.