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Advocates Rally For Environmental Justice In Bridgeport

Groups rally for environmental justice in Bridgeport on April 3.
Groups rally for environmental justice in Bridgeport on April 3. Photo Credit: Contributed photo

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- Residents, statewide organizations and advocates from the #BlackLivesMatter movement held a rally April 3 in Bridgeport to raise awareness about environmental justice.

The rally was hosted by Healthy CT Alliance, a Bridgeport-based health advocacy group, and Capitalism vs. the Climate, a statewide climate justice group.

It was part of a weeklong series of events called the #HolyWeekofAction, which aims to draw attention to issues affecting black communities.

Moral Monday CT, a faith-based affiliate of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, hosted the #HolyWeekofAction.

Speakers included Bishop John Selders, founder of Moral Monday CT, and the Rev. Sekou, an author and theologian active in the #BlackLivesMatter movement. They declared it unjust that low-income communities and communities of color – from Bridgeport to Flint, Mich. – are consistently exposed to higher levels of pollution.

Flint has made national headlines after lead was discovered in the city's drinking water. Many accused the state of Michigan of participating in “environmental racism.”

Selders believes that Bridgeport is not so different.

“Environmental racism is bound up with Connecticut’s industrial past and continues to feed health disparities and economic injustice. Natural resources and marginalized peoples have been relegated as dumping grounds in our urban areas – five cities are home to 71 percent of Connecticut’s people of color and at least 20 percent of pollution sources. Yet, large majorities of people of color support environmental justice," he said.

Forbes Magazine has ranked Bridgeport as the country's fourth dirtiest city, the speakers said.

Spectra Energy's fracked-gas pipeline construction near New York's Indian Point nuclear power plant endangers Bridgeport residents and others in the New York metropolitan area, because there is a small but real chance that a pipeline rupture could trigger a meltdown at Indian Point, the groups said.

According to the Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition, nearly 4,000 children 14 or younger visited the hospital last year for asthma-related incidents. This rate is nearly double the state average. In addition, the number of children who screen positive for lead poisoning is on the rise in the Bridgeport.

"We have to come to the realization that there is a significant problem in Bridgeport with the environmental injustices being perpetrated on low-income and minority communities," Jorge Cruz of Healthy CT Alliance said.

"We need to expose the hypocrisy of city and statewide officials who claim to care about the community but disregard them when dollar bills are waved around."

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