Housing is a Human Right’’s Michael Premo, a tireless artist-activist, in danger of being criminalized: solidarity action needed

Brooklyn-based Michael Premo is an artist, activist and organizer, with whom many of us at NESRI work. He has tirelessly given his time to fighting for human rights for many years. I joined NESRI's Housing Program in 2010, at which point Michael was deeply engaged in the 2-year consensus-based post-production process of the grassroots human right to housing film More Than a RoofMichael and his partner, Rachel, voluntarily contributed their talents as co-directors and co-producers, in keeping with their long-term commitment to storytelling. Their project Housing is a Human Right: An ongoing portrait of the struggle for Home, records the voices and faces of members of communities throughout the United States and around the world fighting to fulfill their right to, and need for, ‘home’.

Michael is an invaluable leader in the movement to ensure all people, particularly the most vulnerable members of our communities, are at the center of the policies and discourse that directly affect them. Michael and his fellow activists are working to ensure that affected communities are themselves the agents of the change needed to meet their most fundamental needs. This week, Michael is facing serious criminal charges and a potential jail sentence for an arrest made at an Occupy protest in which he was a peaceful participant. NESRI is deeply concerned about the rising rate of arrests of activists in our movements. There are concerns among several of our allied organizations that prominent activists are being deliberately targeted, with potentially devastating consequences that follow criminalization and its threat.

Michael's case is the latest of several similar instances brought to our attention from human rights organizations across the country. Please come and show your solidarity with Michael and for the right to engage in peaceful organizing. We are asking those able to join Michael in court to be silently present in court on Wednesday, February 27th, starting at 9:45am and continuing throughout the day. Please dress appropriately and act with respect for the court. Thank you. The court's address is 100 Center Street, New York, NY, Room-450-C on the 4th Floor.