In the wake of Saheed Vassell’s murder at the hands of the NYPD, SURJ focused its April chapter meeting on alternatives to calling the police. Other events included court packing to support Merci Chrisette, marching to mark the 50th anniversary of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination, and continued Anti-Mass Incarceration work and support for incarcerated people.
Wednesday, April 4: To The Promised Land March
People gathered and walked through Harlem with leaders, artists and activists to hold reverence for and celebrate the life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the 50th anniversary of his assassination. The event was hosted by Black Lives Matter Greater New York, Peace Accelerators, and One Tribe Ventures, among others. More information can be found on the website
Friday, April 13 and Saturday, April 14: Alliance of Families for Justice Regional Conference
Building on the momentum of last year’s March for Justice, this was the first of a series of six regional conferences around New York state exploring the impacts of mass incarceration on families and communities.
Monday, April 16 - Tuesday, April 24: #Fight4Merci Trial Support
Merci Chrisette, a Black trans woman, is facing 7 years in prison for defending herself after being harassed by a stranger on the train. After she turned herself in and was detained in a male facility on Rikers Island, she was released on bail with the support of over 270 contributors. The #Fight4Merci Collective asked supporters to fill the courtroom every day Merci goes before the judge. Learn more about Merci’s case here.
Thursday, April 19: Chapter Meeting: Alternatives to Calling the Police
In the wake of the NYPD’s murder of Saheed Vassell on April 4 in Crown Heights, this month’s chapter meeting focused on what to do instead of calling the cops—particularly in gentrifying communities. This was the fourth police killing in the city in the past nine months (the others being Dwayne Jeune, Miguel Richards, and Mario Sanabria), and part of the long history of the NYPD’s mistreatment and killings of people with disabilities and/or in emotional distress. Participants learned how to plug into SURJ NYC’s ongoing work—with organizations like Communities United for Police Reform and Justice Committee—to end police violence.
Wednesday, April 25: #2MillionVoices Volunteer Nights
Participants helped JLUSA process membership requests from people incarcerated across the country and survey responses from incarcerated members throughout New York State.
Ongoing: Call Your State Senator to Support Reform of New York’s Bail and Discovery Laws
Want to help #FREEnewyork today? Make a quick call to your State Senator to ask them to co-sponsor two recently introduced bills (or thank them if they are already co-sponsors): S3579-A, a bail reform bill introduced by Senator Gianaris, and S7722, a discovery law reform bill introduced by Senators Bailey and Benjamin.