Category: crime/justice

58 Firearms Collected on Saturday

This weekend’s Gun Buy Back Program at the Johnson Stewart Community Center on Martin Street resulted in getting 21 pistols, 26 revolvers, three rifles, five shotguns, two derringer pistols, and one flintlock pistol out of the community. Two of those firearms had been listed as stolen in the National Crime Information Center.

Deputy Chief Brian Foley says that this was the first of many local gun buy back events in the area. Continue reading '58 Firearms Collected on Saturday'»

Forum Discusses Models for Non-Violence

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By , June 26, 2014 3:41 pm

Nelba Márquez-Greene speaking at forum hosted by Trinity College on Thursday

“Tell the truth, shame the devil.”

Nelba Márquez-Greene explained that a woman from Glory Chapel — a church she used to attend — would say this during services.

Márquez-Greene said she was going to be doing much of that during her presentation A Professional and Personal Perspective on Trauma and Recovery at the Building a More Peaceful Connecticut: Tools, Models and Initiatives that Promote Non-Violence forum hosted by Trinity College on Thursday.

Márquez-Greene, founder of the Ana Grace Project of Klingberg Family Centers, is a clinical fellow of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy. She alternated between speaking as a professional, and speaking from personal experience. Her daughter, Ana Grace, was one of the Sandy Hook shooting victims in 2012.

The Ana Grace Project’s purpose is to promote love, community, and connection for every child and family, Márquez-Greene said. Part of that is addressing trauma, which does not only appear following natural disasters or shootings, she said, but also when one experiences poverty, racism, and insecure housing. Continue reading 'Forum Discusses Models for Non-Violence'»

Rally for Jane Doe Outside DCF Headquarters and State Capitol

Ray, a veteran who served in Iraq, Guantanamo, and Afghanistan, said the United States is good about sending help overseas, but when people are “in crisis” here, they are told to wait quietly. The marine said he was injured by an IED in Afghanistan. He has ongoing medical needs, he said, and was told to get on a two month wait list for treatment here.

Besides illustrating how the system is broken, he was at Saturday’s Justice for Jane Doe Rally “on behalf” of his cousin, Jenny, who he said was murdered in Brooklyn for no reason other than being who she was, a young trans woman.

Connecticut holding “Jane Doe,” a young Latina in near-solitary confinement, was the uniting issue of the event, even if protestors disagreed about which element of her case has been most outrageous or responsible for her predicament.

Two weeks ago Governor Malloy issued a statement that Jane Doe should be moved from the adult correctional facility to another setting. Several speakers at the rally, which began in front of DCF’s Central Office on Hudson Street, said they wanted to make sure that Malloy would make good on his promises. Continue reading 'Rally for Jane Doe Outside DCF Headquarters and State Capitol'»

Downtown Rally to Close Guantanamo

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By , May 23, 2014 4:04 pm

Today is the “Global Day of Action to Close Guantanamo and End Indefinite Detention.” It marks one year since President Obama said he would resume attempts to release prisoners from the detention facility. Continue reading 'Downtown Rally to Close Guantanamo'»

Project Longevity: Targeting Gun Violence in Hartford

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By , May 18, 2014 10:31 am

Gun violence conversations have increasingly focused on mental health issues, shifting the dialogue away from the realities facing our urban youth who are at risk of being exposed to gang culture and its repercussions. To bring the conversation back to these points, Connecticut Against Gun Violence (CAGV) and Project Longevity hosted a screening of Shell Shocked in an effort to raise awareness and build support for Project Longevity, a new, targeted initiative focused on eliminating group-related violence in urban neighborhoods.

Shell Shocked examines the environment that contributes to gun violence and then explores solutions that helps break the cycle of poverty and violence among urban youth. Realizing the need for a dialogue that bridged the gap between the many people and institutions impacted by violent crime, Director John Richie sought to expose the realities of living in New Orleans, where every African-American child he was working with had been touched by gun violence.

Following the screening, Richie led a panel discussion among Tiana Hercules, Project Manager of Project Longevity, Hartford; Ron Pinciaro, Executive Director of CT Against Gun Violence; Reverend Henry Brown; and Sergeant Steven Austin of the Hartford Police Department.

The panel focused largely on the role of Project Longevity in addressing violent crime in an era marked by widespread access to firearms and strong opposition to gun control efforts from pro-gun lobbyists. Longevity, the Obama Administration’s community-policing approach to prevent gun violence, sends new federal grant dollars to urban neighborhoods, targets repeat criminals who are most at-risk of being a victim or perpetrator of gun violence, and offers an ultimatum: accept a comprehensive package of social services meant to help those who wish to break the cycle of violence and gang activity – or “receive the full attention of the law” the next time any violence occurs, even if those targeted were not directly involved in the crime. Continue reading 'Project Longevity: Targeting Gun Violence in Hartford'»

Rising Tide: A Community Bill of Rights

By , April 29, 2014 4:35 pm

Photo by Josh Blanchfield

Decades have passed since neighborhood organizations in Hartford made city leaders nervous. At one time, these once legendary community organizations took over city council meetings, worked to bring better housing conditions to city renters, and held sway over local elections. Now Hartford Areas Rally Together (HART), Asylum Hill Organizing Project (AHOP), and ONE/CHANE are long gone or husks of their former self. These once vital groups used classic, Alinsky-style neighborhood organizing to keep City Hall and other Hartford powerbrokers in check. Today we see groups like HART simply cashing checks written by powerbrokers. Community organizing that has been dormant for too long in our city. Now, a new group is rising and working to fill the void.

The John C. Clark School in Hartford’s north end has been the site of many skirmishes in recent months over the direction of school reform in the city. But from these battles a new community organization and coalition of residents and neighborhood leaders has emerged. The group, called Hartford Rising!, has grown into a multi-issue community group that just this past weekend established a Community Bill of Rights to “ensure and protect each and every Hartford citizen’s most basic needs.”

Beginning with a city-wide canvas, Hartford Rising! worked to identify key areas of concern for city residents. With nearly 3,000 doors knocked on, the group was able to Continue reading 'Rising Tide: A Community Bill of Rights'»

Author of Orange is the New Black Speaks on Civil Liberties

Solitary confinement is “the most extreme form of punishment we have other than death,” Piper Kerman told the audience during the “Censorship and the Rights of Prisoners” talk on Monday.

Kerman was invited to speak at the Milton and Ethel Sorokin Symposium, a public education event of the ACLU of Connecticut, that is co-sponsored ad hosted by the UConn School of Law.

Kerman’s timing could not have been more appropriate. Right now, Connecticut has a juvenile housed in an adult facility in Niantic, where she is reportedly isolated from the population for 22-23 hours each day. That Jane Doe is in lock down without being charged for a crime has been overshadowed by the details of her needs as a transgendered youth.

Kerman, who did not spend time in solitary housing herself, did say that it is “not used for ‘the worst of the worst’” exclusively, but that isolation is “used as a disciplinary tool for low level infractions.” Continue reading 'Author of Orange is the New Black Speaks on Civil Liberties'»

Trinity Disseminates False Info, Offers No Retraction

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

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?

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?'»


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