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UUs Take Action at Moral Monday CT #BlackLivesMatter Rally

Two Unitarian Universalist ministers and five UU lay leaders were among 17 people arrested Monday evening at a Moral Monday CT #BlackLivesMatter rally in downtown Hartford, Connecticut. Taking its cue from North Carolina’s Moral Monday movement, Moral Monday CT was founded in January, 2015 as a means to shed light not only on police brutality of Black communities across the nation, but also on pervasive racial disparities in employment, housing, incarceration rates, and education. Moral Monday CT leaders have a long-range plan to conduct nonviolent civil disobedience in cities across Connecticut with the goal of shifting public consciousness to support positive changes in the law.

Rev. Josh Pawelek of the UU Society: East, Photograph by Rev. Cathy Rion Starr

Moral Monday CT leaders were frustrated that the Connecticut General Assembly recently concluded its annual legislative session without passing bills that would have curtailed police use of excessive force, reformed drug policy statutes to eliminate racist “drug free” zones and keep more non-violent offenders out of prison. “Given everything that has happened in our country from Staten Island to Ferguson to Cleveland to Baltimore, you would think it would be easy to pass these kinds of reforms in a state like Connecticut,” said the Rev. Josh Pawelek of the UU Society: East in Manchester, CT. “But they failed. Among other things, we’re here tonight to let our political leaders know we will not accept such failure again.”

The Rev. Josh Pawelek of Manchester and the Rev. Jan Carlsson-Bull of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Meriden, Connecticut were arrested along with five Unitarian Universalist lay-people: Al Benford, Jessica Offir and Sofie Buyniski of UUS:E in Manchester; Angie Swanger of the UU Church of Meriden; and Vanessa Gonzales-Rivera of the Unitarian Society of Hartford. A bond of $5,000 was set for each. All were released with a promise to appear in court on June 17th. Many T-shirts and posters from the UUA’s “Standing on the Side of Love” campaign were evident in media photography and videography from Hartford. Coverage in The Hartford Courant can be found here.

Photographs by Rev. Cathy Rion Starr