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Brooklyn Movement Center sits down with Phara Souffrant
(Audio transcript at end of the page)
Where does Phara’s money come from?
Click image to see donations for 2020 race.
Phara Souffrant’s Platform
Find Phara’s full platform at: https://pharaforassembly.com/platform/
- Pass good-cause eviction
- Eliminate the Major Capital Improvement loophole
- Create democratically controlled social housing:
- Allow tenants to collectively purchase and run their buildings
- Invest $3 billion in public housing, prioritizing NYCHA residents
- House our homeless neighbors
- End 421a and 485a tax breaks
- Pass pied-a-terre tax
- Invest in Communities, Not Prisons
- Respect the rights of incarcerated people:
- End cash bail.
- Limit solitary confinement.
- Make incarcerated elders eligible for parole
- Restore the right to vote to all incarcerated New Yorkers.
- Eliminate cruel sentencing:
- End mandatory minimum sentences.
- Reduce sentences for those currently imprisoned under mandatory minimum sentencing laws.
- Repeal “bump-up” laws that allow misdemeanors to be treated as felonies based on past convictions.
- Establish a Sentencing Reform Commission to reduce New York’s incarcerated population.
- End the racist war on drugs:
- Legalize marijuana.
- Decriminalize simple drug possession.
- Establish safe injection sites.
- Sex Work Decriminalization
- End criminal penalties for sex work.
- Repeal the “walking while trans” law.
- Limit the number of patients assigned to each healthcare worker
- Fund our hospital system
- Pass the New York Health Act to create a single payer healthcare system in New York
Nurses Union Endorses Mosley over Phara (link)
Phara talks about her tenant organizing background, and where she thinks Walter Mosley has shortcomings (link)
Phara Talks with DSA (Democratic Socialists of America (link)
Phara Talks Single Payer Healthcare (link)
BMC Interview Audio Transcript
So we’re here today with Phara Souffrant-Forrest, who’s running for the 57th Assembly District seat. Hi, Phara.
Hi, Anthonine, how are you?
I mean, you know, pandemic, how are you doing?
So for voters who have never heard of you, who are you and why should they vote for you?
Okay, so my name is Faris Phara Souffrant-Forrest. I am 31 years old. I was born and raised here in Brooklyn, and in Crown Heights and actually still live in the same apartment I grew up with. I come from Haitian American parents.
I am a nurse and tenant activists. I was born and raised in Crown Heights and I still live in the same apartment I live. I grew up in. I am really deeply committed to my community. I worked as an educator Before I became a nurse, Uber driver…
Someone should vote for me because I really stand for the issues that most people who lived in the district are facing. I stand for universal rent control. I’m fighting for universal health for everyone in New York State. And I’m fighting for a Green New Deal, because climate change and a health crisis is what we’re currently facing right now.
Great, great. Thank you. So, as we know, Central Brooklyn has been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. So what’s your assessment of what is needed right now in this moment
As a nurse I need to tell everyone: First of all, make sure you’re still washing your hands socially distance saying and remaining healthy.
We must make sure that health care workers are getting the resources that they need. Especially personal protection such as gloves and masks. We must take every step to make sure that they’re safe that they can do their jobs, even if that means taking over uncooperative companies, right? No patient should have to pay a red cent for Corona treatment, because healthcare is a human right. So that’s why I’m really fighting for the New York Health Act.
This is also an economic crisis. As a socialist, I know our economy is built on austerity for the working people and a stimulus for the for the rich. People are laid off and the working class are still struggling more than ever to get back. We need a full suspension on all rent payments period, because housing is a human right. And in the long term, we really need to reject economic stimulus for the rich.
Now is the time to build a society that works for everyone. Now is the to fully fund our hospitals. Now is the time to make free healthcare a human right for all. And now is the time for universal rent control. I’ve put out a platform detailing more of what needs to be done. And definitely, it comes from the people, this will likely be the greatest challenge of our society– the greatest challenge our society has faced since the Great Depression. It will not be easy, but we can do it if we fight and we organize together.
Thank you. So we know that you support The New York Health Act, which supports creating a single payer system in New York State, and your opponent, Walter Mosley is also in favor of that. So tell us the difference between you all support here on health.
As a nurse, I also am very proud of my colleagues and the work that we’ve been doing, especially during this crisis. And my experience working both in health care and with housing has just taught me that it isn’t simply enough to just sign on to a bill and say that you’re supportive of it on it. For us to really push for the New York Health Act, we need all parties on board. And that means that we really need to amass a coalition behind the issue of a single payer health system. Because there’s a lot of pushback, you know, from different sectors, right? But it’s not simply just enough to sign on, you need to be out there, championing the cause organizing coalitions– making sure that everybody is educated on the importance of a single payer insurance company. And that is the difference between me and Walter. I go out and I actually organize I lobby. This is literally as a nurse…this is what I see is the difference between a healthy patient and an unhealthy patient, is their ability to actually access quality healthcare. So I think definitely think that there was a lot of strides. Right? You know, it’s great that you’re so you support the bill. But are you a fighter for the bill? The next steps in terms of how the New York Health Act is passed will be really depend on how strongly you advocate and you push for the bill, both in the district and in Albany.
Thank you. And another question is on housing. So could you tell us a little bit about your housing vision for the district? And we know that you’ve also said that your opponent is absent on housing. So if you could also speak to what what that even means for him to be absent on housing, in terms of your vision for the district?
Yes, so I can talk… Last June, when the housing bills were finally passed, eight out of the nine bills were passed. That was a combination of efforts across New York City and across the state. And I had joined the tenants movement, about three years before and when we went to Albany we have we were planning to get arrested for housing. Now, what we weren’t prepared for was the violence that ensued that day.
That day, I remember standing outside the Assembly hall, and being kicked in the back, being pushed around. And there was only one state legislator that was standing with us. And it was not Mr. Mosely. Our politics, our issues are not a spectator sport. So it just doesn’t make sense to stand by and just watch the very people who are from your district fighting for housing, which is a basic human right. And so my vision, right, for the community is to have affordable, truly affordable housing, housing that is designed to keep people in the district.
We have seen rapid rates of gentrification occur within the last eight years. And that’s because we’ve had an incumbent that’s not been active on the issues. So, clearly the difference between me and my incumbent is that he signs on to a bill, I get arrested for housing, stronger housing rent laws.
We need to pass finally the good cause eviction bill that would extend protections to market rate tenants. And then I you know, in further along, I really would like to see that housing is actually written into our state charter as a human right. So no more will we have housing that’s for profit, but rather to house human beings in a humane way.
Awesome. Well, we definitely believe in being humane. So thank you for clarifying your housing position. And then finally, I actually wanted to ask a question in terms of a statement that you made once. So, folks have heard from you saying that the DSA is not a party of gentrifiers. Right? So could you for our listeners here, just clarify like what is what is the DSA vision for central Brooklyn and how do you fit into that?
Yes, I do push back against that statement that DSA is a party of gentrifiers. I come from my experience, both as a member of DSA and being part of coalitions that DSA has made a part of, I have seen that, you know, DSA is really just an eclectic group of people both diverse and of age and nationality. But the main thing that everyone agrees on is that the working people have been pushed back, or pushed against for too long, and that it is time for them to really step up and control the means of production in our society. So what does that mean? It’s that there are some unequivocal human rights that we should have and that we should depend on to meet our basic needs: housing, health care, economic racial justice, that’s what we fight for. And that’s what we stand for.
What was the last part of the question again?
No problem. Just…How do you fit into DSA’s vision for Central Brooklyn? As a person who’s not a gentrifier, right? As a person who’s been in same apartment your whole life? How do you fit into that?
So definitely, I think especially through the my campaign, it’s just been very clear with the support of everyone in DSA and in the community that it is time that we had a working class woman, a black woman, an immigrant woman, a woman of immigrant descent. I think that having DSA backing up, me and other candidates of color just really solidifies the fact that what we’re fighting for is basic human rights and that when, as socialists, when we talk about the upliftment of our communities, we have to really focused on the upliftment of our most vulnerable communities. Our black and brown communities. Our people who are low economic status. So it just makes sense to have a candidate and support a candidate that fits all those criteria.
Great, thank you so much. I mean, it’s hard to not be excited when you talk about a black woman, you know, man, so great. Yeah. Phara it is such a joy to talk to you and hear about your vision for central Brooklyn and why you’re running. And folks, if you’re listening with this is Brooklyn Deep Third Rail, and we’re going to be signing off with our second candidate for the 57th Assembly District, Phara Souffrant-Forrest.