Archive for June, 2015

Spanish Speaking Center of New Britain, CT Closes Due to Budget Cuts

June 27, 2015

Statement by Mary Sanders, SSC executive director.

“Dear Friends – starting today we are laid off until further notice … speak with your mayor and your state representatives so that they will give us the money to reopen. If not – the Center doors will remain closed. We will be here on Friday July 3rd holding a big TAG SALE from 12 to 4 pm .. Thanks for your support!

Bueno amados/as – empezando hoy estamos de layoff hasta nuevo aviso … hablen con su alcaldesa y los representantes estatales para que nos devuelvan nuestro presupuesto. Si no – el Centro no podrá abrir las puertas de nuevo. Estaremos aquí el viernes 3 de julio con un TAG SALE grande … de 12 a 4 pm Gracias por tu apoyo!”

New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart’s office:

You can find your legislators and their contact info on the Connecticut General Assembly website:


Emanuel AME Terror Attack

June 25, 2015

There will be no Community Party Hartford News column this week, due to the Hartford Arts and Heritage special edition of the newspaper.

Rev. Clementa Pinckney 41

Rev. Sharonda Singleton 45

Myra Thompson 59

Tywanza Sanders 26

Ethel Lee Lance 70

Cynthia Hurd 54

Rev. Daniel L. Simmons, Sr. 74

Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor 49

Susie Jackson 87

Their Lives Matter!

Law enforcement, elected officials and the corporate media have not called the mass murder of nine Black people by white supremacist Dylann Roof what it is: domestic terrorism. We’ll share Democracy Now! coverage of the Emanuel AME terror attack. Next week we’ll look at the lives of the Mother Emanuel Nine.

Follow CP on Twitter for state, national and world news headlines. Check out my Facebook page for daily news commentary. Listen to WQTQ 89.9 FM for CP’s public service announcements on our racial justice initiatives. Check out our No Sellout blog ( for the complete archive of CP columns and Northend Agent’s for selected columns ( . Contact us at 860-206-8879 or

David Samuels
Community Party

Malloy = Corporatism /Police Shooting in Hartford/ Meagan Matters/Al Sharpton & the FBI

June 18, 2015

This column appears in the June 18 – 25 edition of the Hartford News…

Capitol Update

Gov. Dannel Malloy’s proposal to repeal corporate tax increases included in the recently passed state budget, and his attempt to delay until 2017 the unitary reporting provision which would prevent corporations located in Connecticut from dodging taxes on profits earned out of state, underscores his devotion to corporatism. Malloy wants to offset the $224 million in lost revenue with – what else? More spending cuts. That means another hit on human services. Sen. Beth Bye confirmed this during an interview with the Connecticut Mirror. “Bye, a West Hartford Democrat, also told The Mirror that while the governor described offsetting the tax-hike-rollback with a simple 1.5 percent ‘across-the-board’ spending cut, it primarily targets social services, education and municipal aid.” Bye added that Malloy refused to give up funding for his transportation project, which is clearly aimed at impressing Hillary Clinton, who will be looking for a Secretary of Transportation if she is elected president in 2016. ” ‘What he was saying is: ‘Don’t touch any of my new money,’ Bye said, referring to a Malloy announcement Friday that was designed to appease businesses, but also frustrated his fellow Democrats in legislative leadership.’ ” Malloy will also be using funds from the budget to expand CT Fastrak. Bye told the Mirror about the reaction of hospitals that will be subjected to a tax hike in the budget. ” ‘The hospitals are screaming too,’ Bye said. ‘And they employ more people than many of the big companies that are screaming.’ ” House Speaker Brendan Sharkey said that legislators will consider Malloy’s proposal. No date has been set for a special legislative session to debate bills related to the budget. The Spanish Speaking Center of New Britain, CT has issued an action alert with info for folks who want to contact their legislators to voice their opposition to Malloy’s budget proposal. Check out the Community Party No Sellout blog for details.

Blue Hills Police Shooting

The grandfather of 22-year-old Tyrinde Mason Thompson told Fox CT that Hartford Police officer Tyrell Jenkins used excessive force when he shot Tyrinde, who suffers from mental illness, last week in the Blue Hills neighborhood. Tyrinde’s grandfather said that Tyrinde has no history of violence. Fox CT reports that Tyrinde has no criminal record, no police officer is guarding his hospital room, and it has not yet been determined if Tyrinde will face criminal charges. Jenkins has no history of citizen complaints or administrative disciplinary actions against him. HPD officers have received training to de-escalate individuals with mental illness, according to a memo I got from the HPD. A source told me that Tyrinde’s mother called Capitol Region Mobile Crisis, but they weren’t present at the time of the shooting. The memo I received regarding HPD officers’ training in handling mentally ill individuals was quite thorough, which makes another development confusing.

Mary Sanders and I sent an email to HPD Deputy Chief Brian Foley requesting a meeting to discuss the shooting, racial profiling, police brutality and Hartford gun violence, but we have not received a response. If the HPD is doing what it’s supposed do when it comes to training their officers in crisis intervention, why haven’t we received a response to our request for a meeting? We understand that the shooting is being investigated, so our plan was to ask general questions about the protocol for handling calls involving individuals in crisis. A memo is nice, but the fact that we have not received a response to our request for a face-to-face conversation is disturbing, especially after hearing and reading Foley’s thoughtful comments on the link between poverty and Hartford gun violence. The vibe we’re getting is that the HPD is going to hide behind a memo. We’ve been hearing a lot about the importance of “building trust” between the police and the community. Well, trust is a two-way street. It’s hard to trust someone who won’t talk to you… We did get a letter from the Centralized Infractions Bureau regarding our Freedom of Information request for traffic fine totals in Hartford neighborhoods. We were told that infraction information is only available by town/city. We will request the data for Hartford. Stay tuned.

Coming in 2016: Meagan Hockaday Act. More info soon. Meagan Matters!

Big Pimpin’

Al Sharpton was in North Hartford for an anti-violence march June 6. Please do not fall for this bs. First of all, Sharpton has worked as an FBI informant. Another march isn’t going to stop gun violence in Hartford. The root cause of the violence is poverty, which Mayor Pedro Segarra and the Hartford Democrats refuse to address. If you want violence in the city to stop, contact Segarra, City Council President Shawn Wooden and Democratic Party council board members. Don’t forget Congressman John Larson, who participated in the march and most likely orchestrated this diversionary tactic. Tell them to implement economic policies to address poverty and Black/Latino unemployment, which are at Depression-era levels. The unemployment rate among Black males 18-25 is as high as 50% in some areas of the city. During a rally at Shiloh Baptist Church, Sharpton asked for $100 donations from people who live in one of the most impoverished neighborhoods in the nation. Sharpton tried to cover himself after he was confronted by local pastor Marcus Mosiah Jarvis by saying the money would go to a memorial for victims of gun violence in the city, but his claim is contradicted by WTNH channel 8 video of Dr. Boise Kimber, who served as the introduction speaker. Kimber specifically requested donations for Sharpton’s National Action Network saying, “The only way this organization sustains itself is by the people. We cannot ask Pharaoh to liberate us.”

Jarvis’ Courant op-ed on Sharpton’s money grab was spot on. “Outside and inside the church, I heard a number of gatherers murmuring: ‘Why is he asking for money?’ ‘He shouldn’t be asking for money.’ ‘I don’t have $100.’ There was a lot of discomfort in the sanctuary. That ‘he’ making this demand was the Rev. Kimber of First Calvary Baptist Church. It wasn’t clear what the money was for, but it seemed like it was for Sharpton’s organization.
I was fed up, and this is when I shouted at Kimber, ‘How dare you come here and ask the people for money!’ Charging toward the front, I saw Sharpton jump up and take to the podium — the head-to-head exchange began.

Counting $100 dollar bills one at a time totaling $1,000, Sharpton challenged me to put my money where my mouth was. ‘I was once a street preacher like you,’ he said. ‘Put up or shut up!’ Whatever the original purpose for the money, Sharpton changed gears and told a startled audience that the money raised would be used to build a memorial for those who were slain. I called Kimber and Sharpton a pimp several times. We don’t need a memorial with the deceased victims’ names etched in stone — another grave marker. The pain from the families who lost loved ones due to gun violence cannot be replaced by a statue of wasted dollars.

Sharpton is a symbol of a systemic problem within the inner city church leadership in the North End of Hartford. We have a church on nearly every street corner, but crime, poverty and unemployment are skyrocketing. When the basic needs of food, shelter, clothing and belongingness are not met, unfortunately selling drugs and violence become the only option for survival.

What we need are initiatives that address economic development and finance to bring stability to our neighborhoods and to help people become self-sufficient and have a means to provide for themselves. The absence of fathers and the incarceration of black men is the modern-day slavery in our community, and we’ve allowed it. We must call our clergy to 100 percent accountability. No more grandstanding. Sharpton’s visit should be a wake-up call for all of us: ‘Many are called, but few are chosen!’ ”

Black Agenda Report commentator Glenn Ford talked about the sordid career of Sharpton in a 2014 BAR Radio segment.
“Al Sharpton is a crook who is always for sale. This is not an opinion, but a fact that is known in great detail to scores of movement activists whose paths have intersected with this talented but totally amoral hustler over the past 40 years. I personally watched him sell out the campaign to elect Jersey City, New Jersey’s first Black mayor, whom Sharpton had pledged to support, in 2001. Sharpton’s price to sow confusion among Black voters was a mere $5,000. This was only one of countless career transactions by a man whose self-proclaimed role models are the entertainer James Brown and the boxing racketeer Don King. Sharpton has sold out Black New York City many times over through his well-compensated service to billionaire mayor Michael Bloomberg. He sold out Black children and the institution of public education in a bizarre multi-city, salt-and-pepper tour with arch-racist Newt Gingrich on behalf of school charterization. The 2009 Sharpton-Gingrich travelling show, chaperoned by Education Secretary and Obama basketball buddy Arne Duncan, marked Sharpton’s rise to ‘made man’ in the Obama organization – a pit bull primed to maul any political dissenters from the First Black

President’s corporate agenda. MSNBC, the corporate megaphone for the Democratic Party brand, provides Sharpton the kind of media platform that substitutes for independent Black leadership in the 21 st century. Rev. Al is what he always wanted to be: a celebrity locked in the embrace of the rich and powerful.

Ford went on to discuss a National Action Network convention which hosted President Barack Obama, then Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “If Sharpton were part of a genuine, independent Black political movement, the occasion would be an opportunity to confront the president on his global offensive against peace and world order, his militarization and destabilization of Africa, and his plans to step up the pace of the global economic Race to the Bottom through a new wave of NAFTA-like trade treaties. The convention might challenge the Attorney General to explain why Wall Street banks are too big to jail, but Americans can be imprisoned without charge or trial under a system in which the law, itself, is a secret.

The National Action Network delegates would be allowed to ask why Black people in Detroit have been disenfranchised with the acquiescence of the Democrat in the White House, and how did it come to pass that President Obama became the greatest deporter of immigrants in U.S. history? The Agriculture Secretary could explain why the administration seemed positively happy to sign a bill that wipes out billions in food stamp benefits to the poor. But, none of this will happen at Sharpton’s convention, because everything he does is an act of prostitution.

In the presence of such monstrous corruption, recent confirmation that Sharpton was an informant for the FBI’s campaign against Italian mobsters in the early Eighties seems very tame, indeed – except that it also tends to confirm other allegations that he tried to rat on Black radicals during the same period. But today, Al Sharpton is at the top of the political garbage heap, the administration’s go-to guy in the sewers. He is King Rat.”

If Sharpton was a true Black leader, he would challenge the structurally racist public policies that cause the economic conditions which fuel gun violence in poverty stricken cities like Hartford. These policies emanate from the Democratic and Republican parties. Unfortunately real grassroots activism isn’t a part of Sharpton’s program, nor will it ever be. As he showed during his visit to Hartford, Sharpton is All About the Benjamins. Props to Jarvis for putting that pimp and FBI snitch on blast.


Memphis Police Department Crisis Intervention Training:

Black Agenda Report website:

FBI documents on Al Sharpton’s work as an informant:

Follow CP on Twitter for state, national and world news headlines. Check out my Facebook page for daily news commentary. Listen to WQTQ 89.9 FM for CP’s public service announcements on our racial justice initiatives. Check out our No Sellout blog ( for the complete archive of CP columns and Northend Agent’s for selected columns ( . Contact us at 860-206-8879 or

David Samuels


Community Party

ACTION ALERT: Spanish Speaking Center of New Britain, CT

June 14, 2015

Today the Governor has publicly announced the confirmation of a special legislative session for the purposes of asking the legislature to make another $220 million in budgetary cuts to accommodate a roll back of the proposed business tax hikes in the budget. Most alarming is that he is requesting the legislature to give him the authority to choose the line items to cut himself. In the Governor’s Biennium Budget released in February, he zeroed most if not all of our services completely. And although the budget passed by both the House and the Senate restoring our communities’ services holds a small percentage cut, our leaders heard us. Call your state legislators and tell them to restore our funding and protect it from the Governor’s chopping block. New Britain Senator Theresa Gerratana’s number is (860) 240-0584, Representative Betty Boukus – (860) 240-8585, Rep. Rick Lopes – (860) 240-8585, Rep. Bobby Sanchez – (860) 240-8356, Rep. Peter Tercyak – (860)240-8585. Other pertinent phone numbers below: Governor Malloy – call (800) 406-1527 Speaker Sharkey – call (800) 842- 1902 House Majority Leader Arisimowicz – call (800) 842-8267 Senate President Looney – call (800) 842- 1420 Senate Majority Leader Duff – call (800) 842-1420 Hashtags: ‪#‎CT4LatinoFamilies‬ ‪#‎BudgetEquity4CTLatinos

Policy Watch: 2015 Legislative Session

June 11, 2015

This column appears in the June 11 – 18 edition of the Hartford News…

Next week’s column will feature commentary on FBI informant Al Sharpton’s visit to Hartford last Saturday. Sharpton asked for $100 donations from North End residents who attended a rally against the wave of gun violence in the city… Community Party member and Spanish Speaking Center Executive Director Mary Sanders, who wrote CP’s Trayvon Martin Act, will be a guest on the Fox CT The Real Story political program, hosted by Jenn Bernstein and Al Terzi Sundays at 10:00 am. Fox CT is on Comcast channel 6 in Hartford. More info soon… S.B. 1035 An Act Concerning Bullying in the Workplace which contained CP’s Safe Work Environment Act advisory board amendment, was not called for a vote in the Senate. Stay tuned for news and commentary on the workplace bullying issue.

The state budget debate continued throughout the night of June 2 into the next morning (the last day of the legislative session) in the House of Representatives. The root cause of this annual fiscal crisis is the refusal of both the Democrats and Republicans to pass a truly progressive income tax so that the rich will pay their fair share, both parties choosing not to close corporate tax loopholes, and the $6 BILLION in revenue that the state loses as the result of corporate tax breaks which are not subject to legislative oversight. The Republicans whined all morning but they share the blame. If you’re mad, be mad at both parties.

The Republicans always kick that bs about rich people leaving the state if they’re taxed more, because they know most people won’t do their homework. A recent study found that only 6% of the people who have left Connecticut did so because of taxes. The revenue from taxing the rich, stopping corporations in Connecticut from stashing their profits in another state and the legislature conducting annual reviews of corporate tax breaks would wipe out the current deficit, with PLENTY to spare.

“Highlights” from the state budget bill that was barely passed by the legislature (73-70 vote in the House, 19-17 in the Senate) courtesy of the Connecticut Mirror: “The (human services) cuts include reducing Medicaid eligibility — a move expected to cause 20,000 to 25,000 poor parents to lose coverage — and requiring seniors to pay more for home care. Two grants that help the state’s lowest-performing schools will decrease. The Commissioners’ Network — a group of struggling schools targeted for state intervention and funding — will get $4.7 million less than was provided in the state budget for this school year. The state’s 15 Priority School Districts will lose $3.6 million that helps extend the school day and offer summer programs. Funding to help public schools pay for transporting students is cut by $1.6 million, or 6 percent.”

While the Republicans complain about the small increases in taxes on the rich and corporations, 20,000 to 25,000 poor families in this state just lost their damn health care insurance. The GOP wasn’t screaming about that. Republicans want the poor and public sector employees (I’m a state worker) to pay through the nose, while the rich and corporations pay nothing. Most poor people in this state are Black and Latino. The public sector is the biggest employer of Black people. Anybody notice a pattern here?

The Republicans talk about CT corporations being job creators; well they damn sure aren’t creating any jobs in low income communities of color, where the unemployment rate is at Depression-era levels. In some areas of CT, the unemployment rate among Black males age 18-25 is as high as 50%. Both the Democrats and Republicans are corporatists. That’s clearly reflected in this budget by the Democratic controlled legislature.

The Wall Street corporatist agenda is to roll back the wages and benefits of the workers. That means killing public sector employment and privatizing state services. State employees have already made wage/benefit concessions twice since 2009. The Republicans want more concessions. They spent the final day of the legislative session blaming the state budget deficit on public sector workers.

HB 5437, Rep. Matt Ritter’s racial profiling bill, was killed after lawmakers asked that funding for the bill be switched to S.B. 1109, the police use of force bill that was passed by the Senate. I don’t really need to explain why this is nonsensical, but I will anyway. Police use of force and racial profiling are directly connected, as we have seen in high profile police murder cases across the country. South Carolina police officer Michael Slager shot Walter Scott in the back following what defense attorney Mark Geragos called a “pretext stop”, which means that Slager invented a reason (“broken third brake light”) to stop Scott based on his race.

If a cop is wearing a body camera, there (hopefully) will be less chance of me getting shot in the back during a traffic stop, but without a deterrent I can still be pulled over by a patrol officer because I’m Black. The protests that have swept the nation are about racial profiling AND excessive use of force by the police. The move to defund H.B. 5437 appears to be about who at the State Capitol gets credit for the racial profiling/police brutality issue, or should I say who doesn’t get credit, and I’m not just talking about my colleague Mary Sanders and myself. As usual, political careers took priority over the public safety of people of color. The Alvin W. Penn Act racial profiling law reforms that Mary and I have been pushing are being blocked because we’re the outsiders. What’s ironic is that Mary and I both publicly supported S.B 1109.

During the Senate debate on S.B. 1109, Sen. Martin Looney went on about the importance of police departments recruiting and hiring Blacks. Let’s be clear: hiring more Black cops will not “increase trust” between the police and the Black community. The cop who pointed a gun at me was Black. It’s not hard to find YouTube videos of Black cops brutalizing Black people. When Blacks become police officers they are forced to assimilate and follow the code that they are “blue first”. What will “increase trust” is cops who engage in brutality and murder being tried, convicted and dropped down a hole.

H.B. 5437 included the Community Party’s Trayvon Martin Act traffic stop receipt amendment, which would have required patrol officers to give a copy of their traffic stop report to motorists. Rep. Bruce Morris spoke passionately in favor of H.B. 5437 at a March 20 Judiciary Committee public hearing, after he revealed that he had been racially profiled days before. S.B. 1109 was not called for a vote in the House; the bill will be debated during a special legislative session (date TBA). H.B. 6863, the bill Rep. Ritter drafted in response to a West Hartford police officer profiling former Major League Baseball player and current ESPN analyst Doug Glanville in his own driveway, was passed by the General Assembly.

Thanks to Mary for her hard work on our campaign to pass H.B. 5437. Big shout out to Debbie Duncan-Cook, Janet Frazao-Conaci, Kimberly D’Amico and others who contacted their legislators and voiced their support for our bill. Last but not least, thanks to Rep. Ritter for supporting our work for the past 5 years, when others would not. We will continue the fight to stop racial profiling and police containment of communities of color in Connecticut. It’s a damn shame that with everything going on in this country, the 2015 legislative session ended without any new laws to protect people of color in this state from racial profiling, police brutality and extrajudicial killings. Disgusting, but not surprising.

Gov. Malloy’s Second Chance Society bill, which was not voted on by the House after being passed by the Senate on the last day of the session, is riddled with flaws. The Democrats caved and allowed the Republicans to add language which would allow a judge to hit an addict with a felony charge if they’re charged with drug possession for a third time. Relapse is a part of the substance abuse recovery process. This provision leaves an opening for addicts to continue to be criminalized by the judicial system. The employment piece calls for a formerly incarcerated individual to be considered for a full pardon “after they complete their probation or jail sentence, followed by several years of responsible citizenship”.

The inability to find gainful employment is what causes many formerly incarcerated individuals to end up back in prison. They can’t wait “several years” to find the type of job which is crucial to them becoming productive citizens. Restoring the conditional job offer provision to the state Ban the Box law would remove the obstacle faced by job applicants who have a legal history. The drug free school zone law remains at a stupid 1500 feet year round, which means that individuals will continue to be subject to the school zone charge on weekends, holidays, vacations and other times when school is not in session. Blacks and Latinos have been getting banged with mandatory minimum jail sentences for possessing drugs within 1500 feet of an empty building. Malloy’s bill will also be debated during the special session.

General Electric and Aetna have responded to the small tax increases on corporations and the passage of a law requiring them to report out of state income for tax purposes by engaging in extortion. GE sent an email to their employees informing them that they have formed a committee to explore the possibility of leaving CT, and urged their workers to contact their legislators and voice their opposition to the budget bill. CT was the only state in the Northeast that did not use combined reporting, which prevents companies from moving profits to another state to avoid paying taxes on the money.

Of course now GE is scaring the crap out of their employees in order to get them to do GE’s dirty work. The Huffington Post reported that companies like GE dodge taxes by keeping profits overseas. “Sixty big U.S. companies analyzed by the Wall Street Journal kept on average more than 40 percent of their annual profits overseas last year. The companies have attributed a growing amount of their revenue to foreign sales, and they have assigned patents and licenses to foreign subsidiaries. Thanks to these practices, the U.S. is not only losing out on tax revenue, but it is also missing money kept overseas that will not be used to invest in the U.S. or pay dividends to shareholders. GE has come under fire for its light tax burden. Though it has been earning billions in profits, it paid an average tax rate of just 1.8 percent between 2002 and 2011, according to Citizens for Tax Justice.”

The 2015 legislative session ended with the poor, people of color and other vulnerable populations getting screwed, as usual. It will take a strong third party movement to challenge the duopoly in this state, and hold the Democrats and Republicans accountable.

Follow CP on Twitter for state, national and world news headlines. Check out my Facebook page for daily news commentary. Listen to WQTQ 89.9 FM for CP’s public service announcements on our racial justice initiatives. Check out our No Sellout blog ( for the complete archive of CP columns and Northend Agent’s for selected columns ( . Contact us at 860-206-8879 or

David Samuels


Community Party

Capitol Update/HPD Deputy Chief Foley Talks About Poverty & Hartford Gun Violence

June 4, 2015

This column appears in the June 4-11 edition of the Hartford News…

Next week’s column will feature a Policy Watch review of the 2015 legislative session, which ended Wednesday. The Senate unanimously passed S.B. 1109, the bill on excessive use of force by police, 36-0. I’m mostly happy with the bill, except for the body cameras provision. Investigations of police shootings would now be handled by a special prosecutor or a prosecutor from a different judicial district than where the death occurred. Police departments would now be prohibited from hiring officers who were terminated or disciplined for wrongdoing or misconduct. Police departments would be legally liable if an officer illegally prevents a person from recording them.

The part of the bill that I have a problem with is the provision which requires Connecticut State Police troopers to wear body cameras, while municipal departments will be “encouraged” but not required to have their officers wear the cameras. Police shootings and brutality cases usually involve officers from municipal departments. Starting in 2017, a pool of $13 million in grants will be provided for municipalities to buy the cameras and store the images. Lawmakers are counting on this financial incentive to get municipal departments to accept the inevitable, or lose the dough. A source told me that Sen. Gary Winfield did push for mandatory body cameras across the board. He should have been supported by other Democrats in the Senate. The bill went to the House of Representatives. Republican Minority Leader Rep. Themis Klarides told the Connecticut Mirror that the GOP had not agreed to allow S.B. 1109 to be called for a vote prior to the end of the session. As this column went to press, S.B. 1109, H.B. 5437 (Rep. Matt Ritter’s racial profiling bill) and the Community Party’s Safe Work Environment Act ( were not enacted by the legislature. In a nonsensical move, lawmakers switched funding from H.B. 5437 to S.B. 1109: more on this next week. The state budget bill, which includes deep cuts to human services, barely passed votes in the House (73-70) and the Senate (19-17). There will be a special session to debate S.B. 1109 and Gov. Dannel Malloy’s so-called Second Chance Society bill (neither bills were called for a House vote) and other legislation necessary to implement the budget.

“The solution you always hear is more cops… That’s been the solution for 50 years. When there’s a spike in crime, you always throw more cops at it. It’s a very short-term solution to the problem.” ~ Hartford Police Lt. Brian Foley talking to the Courant on the need to address the socioeconomic causes of Hartford gun violence.

Last week Foley was interviewed by the local media about the city’s rash of homicides which has brought the total to 12 for this year. Foley talked about the role poverty plays in Hartford gun violence. Mayor Pedro Segarra has ignored the poverty issue since he has been in office. The annual poverty rate in this city hovers between 30% and 40%.The unemployment rate for Black males age 18-25 is as high as 50% in some areas of the city. Because of the lack of economic opportunity in these neighborhoods, Blacks and Latinos turn to the underground economy to get paid, where violence is an occupational hazard.

A new Connecticut Mirror report found that the concentration of wealth and poverty in Connecticut is among the highest in the nation. “Wealth and poverty are highly concentrated in Connecticut — more so than in many other large metropolitan areas. And often, those neighborhoods are racially and economically segregated from each other. For example, 27 percent of top-earning households live in neighborhoods that are predominantly white and wealthy. In other large metropolitan areas, it’s just 10 percent. Poor residents in greater Hartford and greater New Haven are just as likely to live in an extremely poor, predominantly minority neighborhood as those in greater Detroit or greater Philadelphia. And there are twice as many affluent — and segregated — neighborhoods in Connecticut as there are poor, segregated ones.”

The response to the summer time spike in gun violence is predictable: 1) “Community leaders” tell terrified residents to start praying. 2) Hartford Democrats ignore the root cause of the violence (poverty). 3) “Community leaders” scream for more police, which is the equivalent of covering a pot that’s boiling over. 4) The governor calls in state troopers to calm the streets down – until next summer… 5) Repeat. Segarra, who is running for re-election, held a closed door meeting last Friday to discuss damage control. Segarra subsequently requested state funds to pay city police officers overtime, one day after Foley said more cops isn’t the answer. Segarra also requested money for social services; too bad it took the city getting shot up for him to do that. Segarra was rightfully criticized by mayoral candidate Luke Bronin, a Democrat, for excluding community residents from a conversation about the violence gripping the city. Segarra clearly wanted to avoid any embarrassment in an open forum that could cost him votes. Like he did with the stadium plan, Segarra decided on a course of action with his circle of allies, then said that he welcomed input from the people.

The Courant reported that Assemblymen Doug McCrory and Angel Arce called out Segarra for claiming that he’s been asking the state for funding. McCrory and Arce expressed their displeasure to reporter Jenna Carlesso. McCrory said, “I’m very disappointed. He says he needs money, but he has never approached anyone in the delegation for funding for the issues he discussed — police resources, anti-violence efforts — that has never been a conversation. Before you ask us again, you’ve got to do it initially. To put the blame on the state for issues that happen in the city — it’s not responsible. You have to be able to work with the delegation, not pit one against the other. That’s not collaborative.” Rep. Arce added, “We’re not happy. We’re over here working our butts off and you’re making it look like the state’s the one to blame. We send plenty of money to the city.”

The uprisings in Ferguson and Baltimore have forced a national conversation about the link between poverty and racial profiling/police violence. Ferguson and other Missouri municipalities have been balancing their budgets with revenue generated from ticketing and jailing poor community residents. Last week CP sent a Freedom of Information request to the Centralized Infractions Bureau, in an effort to find out if this practice is happening in Hartford.

A Courant editorial asked where Segarra has been during the wave of gun violence. The more important question is why Segarra, City Council President Shawn Wooden and the Hartford Democrats continue to avoid the poverty issue. The proliferation of illegal guns since the 1980’s has resulted in a street culture where disputes that led to fistfights back in the day are now settled with bullets. People shouldn’t be satisfied because Segarra goes to the site of a shooting, like he did when a man was shot in the face last Saturday on Barbour Street. That’s nothing but a photo op.

Last year my colleague Mary Sanders and I presented an urban policy plan in this space which included Temporary Assistance for Needy Familes (TANF) reform and the creation of a New Deal/WPA type of employment program targeting communities with the highest poverty and unemployment rates. We have reached a tipping point in this country with the confluence of protests against biased policing, extrajudicial killings of Blacks and the economic conditions which fuel urban crime and contact between police officers and residents in low income communities of color. The Black Lives/Black Women Matter movements are not a fad; they will continue to evolve. In Wisconsin, Black Lives Matter activists marched with labor unions to protest the extrajudicial killing of unarmed Black teen Tony Robinson and Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s draconian human services funding cuts. The Democrats will continue to be pressured to implement policies that will address racial disparities in the United States.


United for a Fair Economy urban policy plan:

Follow CP on Twitter for state, national and global headlines and updates on the status of our Trayvon Martin and Safe Work Environment Acts. Check out my Facebook page for daily news commentary. Listen to WQTQ 89.9 FM for CP’s public service announcements on our racial justice initiatives. Check out our No Sellout blog ( for the complete archive of CP columns and Northend Agent’s for selected columns ( . Contact us at 860-206-8879 or

David Samuels


Community Party