Amistad America to discuss new partnership at New London press conference

New London - Amistad America announced on its website Thursday that it will hold a press conference on Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Custom House Maritime Museum to discuss its new partnership with Love146, a New Haven nonprofit group that raises awareness of human trafficking.

Officials from state Department of Economic and Community Development are also expected to attend. DECD has touted the agreement with Love146 as one of the "transformative partnerships' that will bring stability to the financially troubled Amistad America.

Meanwhile the ship, which is on its way to New London, was in Cape Cod Bay on Thursday night. Dockside tours of the ship, which is slated to remain in the city through July 14, will be held from noon until 4 p.m. Saturday.

Expected to be on hand is Hanifa Washington, who was introduced as Amistad America's new executive director earlier this week. She replaced Greg Belanger, who resigned July 1. He is still the executive director of Ocean Classroom, the Maine-based group which he signed an agreement with to manage the Amistad while he headed Amistad America. The Amistad Facebook page states the two groups co-manage the ship.

Washington, of Bethany, was a former cook on the ship and has developed its educational programming over the past two years.

State Rep. Diana Urban, D-North Stonington, who has successfully pushed the state to investigate how Amistad America has spent the $8 million it has received in state money, has questioned whether Washington has the needed experience to not only oversee the organization but raise the money needed to fund its operation.

Amistad America is seeking to regain its nonprofit status which it lost after failing to file tax returns for three years. Washington said this week that occurred because of a "clerical error."

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