New Haven Legal Assistance Association was founded in 1964 to serve low-income neighborhoods in New Haven and provide free lawyers to people who could not afford to pay for help with every day issues like eviction, family law, and income support. Over the past 50+ years we have witnessed and experienced how the legacy of slavery, white supremacy, disenfranchisement, disinvestment, and over-policing have ravaged the Black and Brown communities which we serve. We witness the legacy of police brutality in Black and Brown women afraid to call the police when they are abused. We witness the legacy of exclusionary and violent immigration policies to today’s separation of families where children are held in cages. We witness the legacy of controlling Black and Brown communities by mass incarceration in prisons and detention facilities in which people incarcerated are sentenced to death by unhealthy conditions. We witness the legacy of racist housing policies in the fact that your zip code determines your life expectancy and cruel eviction laws that disproportionately harm Black mothers and children. We witness the legacy of a health care disparities that place Black and Brown people in the bullseye of COVID-19.
And now, as we grieve the murders of George Floyd, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and locally, Mubarak Soulemane (and the many, many, too many, who came before them), we also commit ourselves to dismantle the racist structures that have made their deaths possible. While representing individuals living in poverty can have an enormous impact on one family, legal aid lawyers are too often part of deeply racist legal systems.
We are committed to do the work to balance the individual clients who need our help with the impact litigation and organizing work that is part of the fight to dismantle structures of oppression. We are committed to the communities we serve, and in this fight to end police brutality we at New Haven Legal Assistance stand with CTCORE and Black Lives Matter New Haven, and our own LAA staff member, Kerry Ellington, as they personify our mission: access to justice for all.