No Justice, No Peace

Milford unites and calls for change


Aliya Prosser, staff writer


Aliya Prosser

Staff Writer

     Milford came together on Monday, June 8 at the Milford gazebo on the green, to listen, learn and stand in solidarity with hundreds of people to support #BlackLivesMatter. As residents of Connecticut begin to demand change for the inequities that victimize people of color, this educational gathering stood as a sign of long awaited social reform. Kicking off the event was Cindy Wolfe Boynton, a writer, teacher, journalist, and Milford Board of Education member who emphasized the importance of “All should be treated equally.” The event was organized by four young people: Kira Ortoleva, Sarah Bromley, Susan Meier Roth and Alice Garlock. 

     Boynton encouraged the crowd to “take a closer look at what we do in private.” She said her experience and identity as a white woman protect her from the injustice that many black people experience. Specifically, she says, “I have been set up to succeed while blacks and others of color have been set up to face barriers”. By acknowledging the inequalities that separate blacks from their white counterparts, Wolfe stands with the black community in hopes of improving the morality of the police force, government officials, and citizens. 

     Several speakers educated the crowd on the importance of showing solidarity. As a reminder of the seriousness of the event, a student from Jonathan Law High School who was unable to attend had a message for Milford read by speaker, Foran senior, Zoe Pringle. “Today is not a day for Instagram pictures or to meet up with friends.” Pringle later emphasized that the Black Lives Matter movement is a process working to build a better world for all, one that citizens are responsible for because it is important, and not to benefit their reputation.       Speaker Siobhan Ekeh continued,“It starts in our schools, it started in our families, it starts in our hearts. Police brutality is not an isolated issue. Teach the children that their blackness is powerful, beautiful, and important.” 

     Messages were positive and uplifting with hundreds of people in attendance from former Foran grads to Milford administrators including Dr. Cutaia, Mr. Berkowitz, Dr. Golesky, and several teachers, students, and parents. Foran principal, Mr. Berkowitz took away a lot from the event. “We all need to reflect on what we as individuals can do to make a change. We need to listen, learn, and check ourselves to make sure we are part of the solution, not the problem. I was glad I could be there to show support and solidarity. Showing up and standing up to fight racism and inequality is something that will make our community, nation, and world a better place.” 

Among the speakers for the event were community activists, a priest, Chris Files, Justin Farmer, a Hamden councilman, and Pringle. Pringle encouraged the crowd to “Educate ourselves, spread information, and have tough conversations.”

     Mixed in with these reminders were stories from community members who shared their experiences. Some of the presenters expressed sadness over incidents in which someone they love was killed or mistreated in the form of being pulled over without reason, or being at a playground during Covid and being recorded and having police called to the scene. Activists called the crowd to remember Jayson Negron, “Mubi” Soulemane, and others whose lives were cut short. Event organizers said the issues today are not just about George Floyd and his death but injustices around the country. Lead organizer Kira Ortoleva, 19, stated, “It is more important for all peoples to see lives as more than the word, but rather something that we can never get back. We don’t know where we go when we die, we don’t know what happens. It is not right for the police to make an individual experience that. It is not right to kill black and brown people. You must repeat that.” 

Among those in the crowd was Foran alum, Yasmina Lingane class of 2019 who stated, “I would say that it was really heartwarming to see how so many people came out to support this movement and listen to the struggles/fears that black people face every day. We don’t always think about how prevalent this issue is but hearing the unjust situations that people have been put in due to their skin color was very encouraging for everyone who is fighting for a change!”

    Another alum Max Tavitian attended the event with his dad. Tavitian’s dad stated, “I went into the rally not really knowing what to expect. It ended up being a very positive experience. Everyone there was behind the organizers and stood up for the Black Lives Matter movement. At one point we took a knee for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. You could have heard a pin drop for the entire time. Today I was very proud of my town.” 

     The real work will come after the protest when citizens are encouraged to call for change, and continue the education they received today. 

     Alongside the peaceful protest were the Milford Police who took a knee during the event to show their solidarity. The message was clear and reiterated throughout the event, “Together a better world is possible.” 

Shea and Lena Pangu at the protest. Photo Courtesy of Rachel Pangu, June 8, 2020.
Milford police take a knee with Monday’s protest. Photo courtesy of Max Tavitian. June 8, 2020.