BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (WTNH) — A group of protesters has been camping outside the Bridgeport Police Department demanding change in police budgets and police policy since Sunday.
A group called Justice 4 Jayson posted to Instagram on Sunday they would be “occupying the Bridgeport Police Department until…our demands can be heard and addressed.”
The protest has largely been peaceful over these four days.
Protesters have erected tents and seem to be prepared for the long-haul: getting provisions delivered. Some neighboring businesses said they are letting the protesters use their property. Additionally, a portable toilet was delivered.
Protest organizer Jeannia Fu told News 8 Monday the group wants to “reset and set a new standard of intervention, and that’s police abolition.”
We are here to push for the end of this institution and that is being done nationwide. So we believe Connecticut needs to catch up to the rest of the country in terms of our thinking of what demands for justice are reasonable. The demand to end this institution is a reasonable demand.
These people do not need to be trained under a militarized model armed with weapons lethal weapons, so we need completely to transform our sense of what response is needed.Protest organizer Jeannia Fu
Speaking on Monday, Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim sounded willing to be part of a discussion.
“I think what we all look for, it doesn’t have to be in Bridgeport, it doesn’t have to be in any particular place,” said Ganim. “But a constructive conversation with positive results, I think is what I’d like to be a part of.”
Another protester, Kira Ortoleva added, “Considering we’re the constitution state something needs to be done.”
Monday protesters include family members of Jayson Negron, a 15-year-old who was shot and killed in an altercation with Bridgeport Police three years ago. His mother and older sister say they are overwhelmed by the community support.
They are also calling on the immediate firing of the officer who shot Negron, Officer James Boulay. To date, Boulay has not been charged in Negron’s death and has returned to duty.
I want change. My 15-year-old son didn’t make a smart choice, he was unarmed and he was shot at close range. [This officer] unloaded his gun on two boys who were unarmed. They need better training. They need to be able to handle that kind of thing in a better way. There’s no reason why Jayson should have lost his life the way that he did at 15 years old.Natasha Tosado / Jayson Negron’s Mother
Jazmarie Melendez, Jayson’s sister added, “Boulay not only shot rounds point-blank into my brother’s chest, he cuffed him down and left him on the streets to bleed for six hours, but he also has continued to perpetrate violence in the city.”
Violence that this group says has gone on too long in their city. A painful sore for the family of the teen whose life was cut short.
Negron’s family is seeking justice for their son by filing a lawsuit against Boulay and the City of Bridgeport, but they also want to see real change so that no other family has to feel their indescribable pain.
“This is the last generation and it stops here,” Jayson’s mother said.
Tuesday, Negron’s sister said they are making some progress in getting the City Council to listen to their demands and push for an open forum on the issue.
“I will highlight that it took 3 years for us to have this type of dialogue and this conversation,” she said, “which is shameful. But there is power in what we are doing and we are working towards outcomes that are positive.”
Though these young people have made their demands clear through their campout, they say they won’t budge or move until leaders hear their plea.
The group initially said they would be camping out through Monday evening to be present for the City Council meeting, demanding the city council meet with them and follow through on some of their demands. The City Council meeting went on as planned virtually, but there are plans in the works to meet with protesters face-to-face later this month.
On Sunday, dozens of Bridgeport residents took over James Street where the police department stands to occupy the street. Organizers say they are prepared to camp out for days to demand police reform.
One protester told News 8 this occupation is reminiscent of the ’60s and in some ways it feels like history repeating itself. Organizers at the protest who are pledging to camp out in the name of policing changes tell News 8 they are simply frustrated. The main message: defunding the police.
The group has a list of demands and they include an immediate divestment from the police department and immediate investment into community spaces like healthcare and education.
They are also calling for the firing of Chief AJ Perez and any and all officers who had a hand in the death of Bridgeport residents within the last few years.
These are only a few of the demands, and until they are met these young people intend to occupy this space in front of the Bridgeport Police Department.
We are in a state of emergency and we have been in a state of emergency for a long time. Policing: over 30 people have been killed by Connecticut police over the last three years. Many of those police murders were done by Bridgeport police. So the people of Bridgeport have decided to rise up finally and finally tell this city that the police violence needs to end.Jeannia Fu/ Bridgeport Organizer