Panel hears racial profiling cases

Racial profiling and other acts of discrimination came to the surface in Naugatuck, Conn., on August 29. Speaker after speaker told an NAACP-led panel that African Americans live in fear of the police here. One citizen said her relatives from out of town refuse to visit here because of the racial profiling notoriously connected to the Naugatuck Police Department.

An African-American police officer from out of town and an African-American bail bondsman were among those stopped for “being Black.”

Complaints emanating from the school system were also highlighted. One woman angrily told how her grade-school child was singled out by a teacher when a book was stolen in the classroom. The young girl was the only Black child in the class. When the book was found elsewhere, no apology was forthcoming to the parents or the child.

One speaker reported an incident with a former school superintendent. While proposing a free outdoor play for Naugatuck school children, the speaker was shocked when the superintendent raised questions about the reasons for the participation of Latino musicians. The play was never seen by local school children, while hundreds of students from more affluent suburbs benefitted from the production.

As a partial remedy, present Superintendent Robert Cronin, a panel member, promised that tapes of the event will be shown in all five of the city’s grade schools. The play depicts a true story of the independence movement in the Naugatuck Valley and features the heroic actions of a Black slave.

The meeting was moderated by Rev. T.C. Brantly of Restoration Springs Church, Naugatuck. Also participating were Police Commission Chairman Fran Dambowsky, Cicero Booker Jr., president of the Greater Waterbury branch of the NAACP, state NAACP president James Griffin, and NAACP Naugatuck residents Tony Scatena and Fred Fulcher Jr.

The author can be reached at pww@pww.org