Trayvon Martin Act Report: Connecticut Racial Profiling Prohibition Project

This commentary appeared in the October 10 – 17, 2013 edition of the Hartford News… The members of the Connecticut Racial Profiling Prohibition Project, the puppet Alvin W. Penn Act advisory board of Gov. Dannel Malloy, have not mentioned the Department of Justice investigation of racial profiling by the East Haven Police Department during any of their meetings which were televised on the Connecticut Network, nor have they mentioned the 2012 DOJ indictment of EHPD officers David Cari, Dennis Spaulding, Jason Zullo and Sgt. John Miller or the trial of Cari and Spaulding on their website.  Last week I left messages with advisory board members Ken Barone, American Civil Liberties Union legal director Sandra Staub and Redding Police Chief Douglas Fuchs asking for an explanation. Predictably, Staub did not return my call. Fuchs told me that informing the public about the East Haven case or studying the DOJ investigative report on the EHPD isn’t something that the advisory board, which is supposedly working to stop racial profiling in this state, needs to do. “That’s not our charge,” Fuchs said. “Our job isn’t to look backward. Our job is to collect traffic stop data in the best manner possible.” I then asked about the disparity in the reactions to the Newtown school shooting and the East Haven case.  


Following the spree killing at Sandy Hook, a legislative task force on gun violence was created. The task force visited suburban towns, including Newtown (while excluding gun violence plagued cities Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport) to discuss possible solutions. The gun laws in Connecticut were subsequently strengthened. Police officers were assigned to selected schools. I pointed out to Fuchs that clearly the state “looked backward” at the Newtown shooting and implemented measures designed to prevent that tragedy from happening again. The reaction by the state, reflected by Fuchs’ comments, to the East Haven case has been the exact opposite. After a lengthy pause, Fuchs reiterated his position that the East Haven case is not the advisory board’s concern. After questioning my “professionalism” Fuchs would not respond when I asked him if he had anything to say to the Latino East Haven residents who have testified at the trial about being harassed and brutalized by Spaulding and Zullo. Testimony by EHPD Sgt. Anthony Rybaruk supports residents’ testimony against Zullo. The advisory board’s stated purpose of data collection is to determine if racial profiling is happening in Connecticut (duh). The East Haven case is irrefutable evidence of biased policing which the board has chosen to ignore.


Barone, who has been the public face of the advisory board and is listed as the contact person on their website, would not answer my questions and ever so politely referred me to Bill Dyson, the advisory board chair/figurehead (and the Black guy). Dyson started off by totally contradicting Fuchs, as he said that the East Haven case was the impetus for the formation of the board, and that the board is formulating policies in direct reponse to the case. Dyson then said that he has not read the DOJ investigative report of the EHPD! Like Fuchs, Dyson had no answer for why the advisory board hasn’t discussed the case during their televised meetings and community forums or during any legislative hearings and why there is no mention of the case on the advisory board’s website. Dyson had a problem with my contention that he could not effectively develop policies to respond to the case if he didn’t know squat about what actually happened. I submit that the board has not mentioned the DOJ investigation of the EHPD or the trial of Cari and Spaulding because their true assignment is to protect the police. My conversations with Fuchs, Barone and Dyson and Staub’s display of cowardice have strengthened my belief. In an astonishing display of arrogance, Dyson repeatedly asked me why the advisory board should study and discuss the DOJ report. I challenge Dyson to ask the Latino East Haven residents who have suffered at the hands of Cari, Spaulding, Zullo and Miller that question, if he has the guts. 


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