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Tent community has voices heard by Bridgeport City Council

The people making up Jayson’s Abolition Camp have been fighting for reform since the death of Jayson Negron in 2017.

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — The tent community in front of the Bridgeport Police Department continues to grow and so do their calls for change. The people making up Jayson’s Abolition Camp have been fighting for reform since the death of Jayson Negron in 2017. Their meeting with the city council had been three years in the making.

"I am here today in the name of Bridgeport's George Floyd and his name is Jayson Negron," said Mikela Adams.

"Justice for Jayson" has been the main cry from the community that bears his name. After six days of continued protesting, their long list of demands for change and reform were finally heard by city council members at an outdoor, socially distanced, public hearing. 

"I left my king-size bed for an air mattress in a tent," said Byron Bigelow. "Do you want us to go home? Help us meet our demands."

The city council heard calls for the reallocation of funding from the police department into education, housing, and other community resources. The ask for new policing policies, the end to the school-to-prison pipeline, and the firing of Officer James Boulay and Chief AJ Perez. Although, Mayor Joe Ganim and Chief Perez were not there to hear them.

"They don’t take us seriously," said Jezelle. "How can you sit here and say that you care for your city and your town and you can’t even sit here when you have more than 20-plus people sharing their discomfort with the police department."

The city council says the two don’t normally attend city council meetings. When asked why, Council President Aidee Neives said the mayor is just one part of the legislative process and if the chief was there,"It would've been a little bit more tense and combative," said Nieves. 

The council says they will be addressing policing policies like excessive use of force and chokeholds as well as a civilian review board.

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"We took an oath as elected officials. Police department officers took an oath to serve and protect and the thing is we forgot about service," said Nieves. 

People camping out in Jayson's Abolition Camp say they just want to have a respectful discussion with police officers passing by their camp but say they have only been met with more discourse only furthering the divide between them,