Every month, BORDC honors an individual who has done outstanding work in support of civil liberties and the rule of law in his or her community. This month, the Patriot Award goes to Denisa Jashari for her invaluable service to the movement for civil liberties and human rights in the state of Connecticut.Denisa has been involved in grassroots organizing in Connecticut since 2007, after she began studying at Trinity College in 2006. Co-founder of the college Anti-War Coalition, she believed that at a time when students in the US are overwhelmed with debt, funds for war should instead be used to address domestic needs. As a member of Stop the Raids, a student run group whose mission was to support immigrants on a local and national level, she stood in solidarity with undocumented immigrants to combat anti-immigrant bias and profiling.Most recently, Denisa helped start the Connecticut Coalition to Stop Indefinite Detention
in late 2011. Along with fellow Connecticut activists Mongi Dhaouadi (from CAIR-CT) and Chris Gauvreau (from the United National Antiwar Coalition), Denisa aimed to mobilize outrage at the indefinite domestic military detention powers of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).Their first call to create a coalition yielded tremendous results: In February, more than 100 people from 30 different organizations convened to discuss how to mobilize in response to this most recent attack on civil liberties. The organizations included civil rights, anti-war, and interfaith organizations, Occupy, and others from throughout Connecticut. The coalition is mobilizing statewide resistance to the NDAA’s detention powers, while also standing in solidarity with allied groups, such as those confronting racial profiling by the NYPD and its abusive stop & frisk program.
As an organizer, Denisa has seen how vulnerable a community can become as its rights dissolve. In response, she has helped lead the coalition to take an educational tone. The coalition has sponsored events featuring speakers, such as former US Army Chaplain James Yee, whose service at Guantanamo Bay led him to grow disillusioned with the war on terror.
The coalition is also working to create grassroots support for a resolution opposing the NDAA in New Britain, CT to express the community’s condemnation of its potentially draconian detention provisions. Its current emphases are on engaging further allies, conducting public education events like its forum on November 17, in Hartford.
The coalition has also mobilized, marching on August 8, to show solidarity with activists raided by the FBI, as well as Sikhs and other South Asians targeted by hate crimes.
Denisa notes that we live in a “time period facing huge attacks on our civil liberties. We understood that.” While she recently moved to Indiana to pursue a PHD in Latin American Studies at the University of Indiana-Bloomington, she plans to continue organizing in her new community.
BORDC thanks Denisa for the remarkable contribution she has made to the struggle for civil liberties in Hartford and across Connecticut. She is truly a model citizen. BORDC is proud to honor her with the August 2012 Patriot Award.