NEW HAVEN, Conn (WTNH) — About 200 elders gathered on the New Haven Green on Monday afternoon to demonstrate their outrage and support for the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and demand police accountability. After hearing the protesters’ demands, Mayor Justin Elicker said he’s working to fill all positions on the city’s Police Civilian Review Board.
The group acknowledged that older U.S. Americans support President Donald Trump and his “dominance” stance toward protesters of George Floyd’s killing at higher rates than younger ones. In contrast, this group wanted to show solidarity with BLM.
Older Americans have not felt safe protesting in large groups during the COVID-19 pandemic, so the group wanted to participate in a COVID-safe gathering to stand (or sit) in solidarity in support of black lives, against police brutality, and for institutional change in our communities that affirm the absolute value of all people.
“Many older people, because we have an epidemic of COVID at the same time as an epidemic of racism and white supremacy, a lot of older people felt like they couldn’t come out,” protest organizer Melinda Tuhus told News 8.
“Our message is that everyone needs to support Black Lives Matter,” continued Tuhus. “It doesn’t matter your age. Even if you can’t come out, there’s many other things you can do. It’s really an important time to step up. This is something we haven’t seen – the extent of this – since the ’60s.”
The group also said this demonstration was a time for expressions of sorrow and anger and advocacy for change, according to their statement.
Mayor Justin Elicker took a knee during an eight-minute and 46 second moment of silence honoring Floyd. The mayor told News 8 he is listening to protesters’ demands, including working to fill all positions on the city’s so far inactive Police Civilian Review Board. Elicker said the Board of Alders is responsible for making appointments, but that he is working with the board to ensure that gets done as soon as possible.
“I have had conversations with the President of the Board of Alders about making sure that’s done, and I will be recommending some names,” Mayor Elicker said.
He’s also looking into calls to end the so-called tripling policing of New Haven by city police, Yale Police, and neighboring Hamden.
“We’re reviewing the agreement both with the University and with Hamden,” Elicker said. “I’ve had conversations with [Hamden] Mayor [Curt] Leng about how we can make sure any activity in New Haven aligns with the values of our community policing.”
Elicker said he’s already at the forefront of the rising national demand to divert city funds from the police in favor of social services for the youth and disenfranchised groups — commonly referred to as “defunding” the police.
“I reduced the number of positions in the police depatment by 10% so that I could ensure that we maintain our funding for youth, for homeless population, for other social services.”