Category: crime/justice

Trinity Disseminates False Info, Offers No Retraction

By , April 8, 2014 2:25 pm

A sexual assault in the middle of the afternoon outside of a fraternity at Trinity College?

That did not happen.

Before looking at what did not occur, here is something that did and was not in the national news: Continue reading 'Trinity Disseminates False Info, Offers No Retraction'»

DOT Committed in Court to Building Bridge for Pedestrians and Cyclists

By , March 18, 2014 9:22 am

Glossing over the matter of safety and likening the plaintiff’s issue with the Flower Street closure to one of “inconvenience,” the Superior Court in Hartford ruled to dismiss the lawsuit against James Redeker, Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Transportation. Christopher Brown had sought a writ of mandamus– a resolution that would require the CT DOT reopen Flower Street for cyclists and pedestrians as DOT’s hearing officer Judith Almeida had ruled previously. With the dismissal, the DOT is permitted to leave a city street permanently closed to all forms of traffic.

Attorney Ken Krayeske said the outcome was not unexpected. “We knew going in that a mandamus presents a unique challenge: how do you prove a plaintiff has a legal right to something?,” he said.

“We understood the uphill odds, but we filed because the Connecticut Department of Transportation relegates cyclists and pedestrians to second class citizenship,” Krayeske said.

View from the “mitigation path” that goes between Broad Street and Flower Street. The broken fence between the Interstate and path adds confidence for those expecting a safe route, free of wayward vehicles.

The DOT, now backed by the court, has said that an east-west path sufficiently mitigates the closure of a north-south route. The bike lanes on Broad Street have been accepted by them and the court as another solution to the closure. The new lanes and bike boxes on Broad Street were painted in November; the paint is already nearly completely eroded in places and few cyclists use it. According to dozens of cyclists, this stretch of Broad Street is not significantly safer since the installment of these lanes. In the last month, huge potholes in the Broad Street and Capitol Avenue intersection have not made things easier for those on two wheels. Although not directly part of the Flower Street situation, a nearby stretch of the East Coast Greenway which has been identified as the responsibility of the State had gone neglected for weeks while a large sheet of ice made walking and cycling a challenge. Continue reading 'DOT Committed in Court to Building Bridge for Pedestrians and Cyclists'»

Ban the Box: What does the law say?

By , December 2, 2013 8:42 am

As we move into the holiday season, some see it fit not to push toward creating a more just world, but to punish those who have already been punished. This is done selectively and in ignorance, or apathy, of the larger consequences and messages being sent. The same people lamenting recidivism are actively putting up stumbling blocks to those who have made mistakes and are trying to do right.

Last week what we saw in Hartford was not concern for public safety but a witch hunt.

We can speculate over why Kennard Ray was singled out more than others to have his background checked out. Maybe it’s his party affiliation — being part of a growing third party in a city controlled by the Democrats. There’s been open hostility toward that party by those who believe it is somehow responsible for both Republicans losing their footing here and for some Democrats to lose votes. Some have suggested that those calling for this investigation with such gusto all hail from a different racial background from Ray, and that their privilege prevents them from seeing how they are contributing to institutional racism.

I asked Kennard Ray why he thinks this got the spotlight, after all, not all new hires are given so much as a second glance by the media. His telling of it is that questions arose after a press release was issued by the Mayor’s Office, with reporters from the Hartford Courant initially raising the issue. At this stage of the game, he had been appointed and was due to begin work this morning, following the Thanksgiving weekend.

He says that he has “heard several theories on why [his past] may have been brought up, but I’m not sure if any of those theories lead me in a direction where I can form a solid opinion and I am not comfortable speculating. I’m sure we’ll hear more about why this became a public issue of interest in the days to come.”

Regardless of the reasons, this push to “investigate” Ray came largely from those whose own pasts are far from perfect.

The Debt That’s Paid is Never Paid

At what point has someone paid his debt to society? Is it after he has served his jail term? Stayed out of trouble for five years? Ten years?

Kennard Ray himself, in a statement on Facebook, has said that he has “worked tirelessly in my community and communities like it over the past decade to make good on past misgivings. I have in fact done the crimes that the media has reported on, and I have also done the time. In fact, over the past decade I’ve put more time and effort to doing right, than I ever have in doing wrong.”

Do we only consider him rehabilitated on his death bed when we can all be sure that he has obeyed the law for the remaining decades of his life?

What Does the Law Say?

The fact is that Ray, nor anyone else applying for a job with the City of Hartford — with only a few exceptions — needs to be upfront about his criminal past. Hartford has an ordinance spelling out as much. A resolution states:

The court of common council by substitute resolution dated January 12, 2009 resolved that the human resources department review its current civil services processes and eliminate any barriers during an interview process that may preclude applicants with criminal records from gaining employment with the City of Hartford.

Interpretation: a person who has a criminal past can be employed with the City of Hartford. Continue reading 'Ban the Box: What does the law say?'»

The Others: A Reaction to #YoungHartford

By , November 1, 2013 11:25 am

Horses in Keney Park in Hartford’s North East neighborhood               Photo by Kerri Provost

A recent forum, #YoungHartford, explored a multitude of the struggles facing the city, featuring some of the city’s rising leaders who fall in the twenty-something and thirty-something age range. The conversation highlighted failings unique to Greater Hartford – bifurcated neighborhoods, racial segregation, and the persistence of educational disparity in our post Sheff v. O’Neill region. Other impediments referenced resemble the types of obstacles being debated in cities across the country. You know the buzz-words: sustainable infrastructure, walkable amenities, multi-modal transportation, safe streets, the list goes on.

While the panelists didn’t disagree on the importance of each of these in producing a socially and economically healthy Hartford, their realities and experiences produced very different sets of priorities, and equally contrasting strategies on how to procure those priorities.

Erin Concepcion, West End resident, and TJ Clynch, downtown resident and founder of Civic Mind, Downtown Yoga, and the Hartford HodgePodge, offered perspectives requiring less commitment or action from city leadership, such as investments in basic infrastructure, awareness campaigns to educate visitors of all that downtown has to offer, and an increased sense of ownership among residents.

Jamil Ragland, a resident of the North End, had a different perspective. He expressed concern over stark racial divisions and how that segregation prevents Hartford’s sixteen neighborhoods from maximizing each other’s cultural creativity and creating a real, collective identity for the city as a whole. When asked to comment on how the relocation of UCONN’s West Hartford campus could potentially help to integrate Hartford’s neighborhoods, Jamil responded:

I would love to see UCONN in the North End. I would love to see UCONN in the South End … I’d love to see UCONN anywhere. We need to get past the idea that Hartford is downtown Hartford, that Hartford exists only within the confines between the north side of Capital [Community College] and the end of the library … [and] that beyond that, Hartford doesn’t exist … Continue reading 'The Others: A Reaction to #YoungHartford'»

Learning to Fail, One Outrageous Punishment at a Time

By , August 9, 2013 10:53 am

The high number of students being suspended, expelled, and arrested in urban schools is finally getting some attention. In 2011, Real Hartford reported that within a small time frame during the previous school year, seventeen students had been arrested at Burns and eleven at Milner, both elementary schools in Hartford. Those two elementary schools combined had more arrests than any single high school in Connecticut for that time period.

More recently, Achievement First, a charter school group, was criticized for having a high number of suspensions, particularly of those in the lower grades. The Hartford Courant reported that an estimated “11.7 percent of kindergartners and first-graders at Achievement First Hartford Academy were suspended last year an average of 5.4 times each.”

In fact, Achievement First Hartford Academy led in Connecticut for the highest percentage of elementary (32.5%) and middle (49.4%) schools students receiving in-school or out-of-school suspensions and expulsions.

Despite the poor track record for harsh discipline, Superintendent Christina Kishimoto wants to close one of the Hartford Public Schools and reopen it in 2014-2015 as an Achievement First charter school. This is a matter that is expected to be voted on by the Board of Education at the end of August.

Hard statistics on suspensions and arrests exist, but might not deliver the message in a way that makes people empathize. Continue reading 'Learning to Fail, One Outrageous Punishment at a Time'»

“We Have to Make Vibrations Now”

By , July 22, 2013 11:36 pm

Rev. Henry Brown urged the hundreds of people gathering in Lozada Park to come together.

Literally.

How are you going to have unity, he asked, if folks could not stand next to their neighbors. Continue reading '“We Have to Make Vibrations Now”'»

Peaceful Trayvon Martin March and Rally Planned

By , July 20, 2013 5:40 pm

Today was the National Day of Action for Trayvon Martin, but if you missed the noontime rally in Downtown Hartford, there is another opportunity to let your voice be heard.

On Monday, July 22nd people — who are being encouraged to wear black hoodies or t-shirts with supportive messages — will gather at Lozada Park (at Seyms and Mather) to vent about the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial. Cornell Lewis, one of the action’s coordinators, said this is also serving as an opportunity for people to “design strategies to address racism/bias.” Continue reading 'Peaceful Trayvon Martin March and Rally Planned'»

Community Meeting Tonight about Trayvon Martin Case

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By , July 15, 2013 9:07 am

The Kabbalah House will be hosting a community meeting tonight (July 15) at 7 for anyone who wants to “meditate, yell, cry, reason, question, pray” or share their views on the Trayvon Martin case. Expect conversation about race, racism, justice, injustice, class, color divisions, and how to create serious change “beginning with our selves, our communities, and ultimately our society.”

Organizers have acknowledged the last-minute nature of this meeting and promise that other such conversations will be held at this venue in the future.

This will be outside in the garden, weather permitting. If rain, it moves inside. The Kabbalah House is located at 1023 Albany Avenue.

 

Blowing Whistles for a Whistleblower

By , June 7, 2013 10:41 am

(left-to-right) Richard Nelson, Chris Gavreau, and Stephen Durham

Stephen Durham, the Freedom Socialist Party nominee for President in the 2012 general election, drove up from New York for the Thursday rush hour rally calling for Bradley Manning’s freedom. Continue reading 'Blowing Whistles for a Whistleblower'»

Trinity Gets Its Own Police Substation

By , May 19, 2013 9:29 am

A building which Trinity College employees say had been slated for academic use has been turned into a police substation.

For almost twenty years, there has been a police sub-station on the corner of Ward and Affleck Streets, just blocks away from Trinity College.

A glance at the campus safety log over the last several weeks shows that crimes which would land non-students in court are typically handled only by the college administration. Continue reading 'Trinity Gets Its Own Police Substation'»

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