Erycka is ready to advocate for liberation and build power with people in our communities.

Erycka Ortiz recently joined the ACLU of Connecticut as a new field organizer, with a focus specifically on building community in Fairfield County. As an experienced organizer who has spent the last 4 years working alongside Black and Brown youth harmed by the school-to-prison pipeline, Erycka is here to advocate for liberation and build power with people in our communities. In her role, she’ll be working with ACLU of Connecticut supporters and allied organizations and groups to advance shared goals.

This week, she sat down with communications director Meghan Holden to talk about what brought her to the ACLU of Connecticut, her work ahead, and one object in her workspace that serves as a powerful symbol of her connection to community, resilience, and power.

MH: Erycka, welcome! We’re excited you’re here. Why did you want to join the ACLU of Connecticut?
EO: Oof. I’ll try to be concise! I wanted to join the ACLU of Connecticut because I really did believe in the mission statement, and I really did believe in the initiative. I wanted to align myself in an environment that I felt was really doing strong work related to trying to acknowledge and attack incarceration in Connecticut and supporting folks who have been impacted by incarceration. Because, again, my work that I have done prior was working with Black and Brown young people who have been impacted by the school to prison pipeline. So, I wanted to make sure I was still closely connected to that work, even if it was in a different capacity. I was doing my research on what the ACLU has done and has been doing of late, and I was inspired by the work that was happening.

MH: What will you be doing in your role with the ACLU of Connecticut?
EO: I’ve been onboarded as the field organizer, and the goal of this role is to expand the ACLU’s connection in Fairfield County, specifically Stamford, Bridgeport, and Norwalk. That work definitely looks like making connections with organizations already on the ground doing that work, as well as building new connections and trying to build a stronger presence with community members there, especially moving towards an election year. Also, there’s lots of things happening related to housing, related to reproductive rights, and related to incarceration in these areas, and so I think what feels really exciting is putting a magnifying glass on these issue areas and building, again, a stronger presence within the ACLU there. And also to be able to build stronger relationships with these organizations, to be able to offer support where it makes sense and where it aligns with our work, and also not to be stepping on other people’s toes who are doing the work anyway. Making sure I, as an organizer, am doing my due diligence to be making those connections, naming transparently what the goals are organizationally and individually, and supporting those efforts.

MH: What’s one thing you have in your space that brings you joy?
I have this piece. So, it’s a necklace that I got in Puerto Rico. I am Indigenous, specifically Taíno, Taínos you know, some of the first groups that were impacted by colonialism, and all of the things, so this is one of the deities in our culture, called Atabey, and I keep this with me as a reminder of my Indigenous heritage, as someone from the Caribbean. It was a piece of mine that I picked up when I first visited the island, and it’s really special to me because too much of Taíno cultura is altered or lost or hard to be accessed, and I have had a wonderful privilege to have access to different things in my culture, to be able to practice certain things and grow up with a certain sense of identity, but that isn’t the truth for lots of folks who are Taíno, and so yeah, this reminds me of strength, and resilience, and a deeper connection to my community and myself. I keep it on me always as a reminder to keep going.

MH: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our blog readers?
I like long walks on the beach [laughs]. No, I love to cook, and I am a humungous Harry Potter and Twilight fan. I also read all the time, so I have lots of books.