HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — A dramatic scene unfolded at the State Capitol in Hartford on Thursday.
College students protesting against racial injustice, accidentally cross paths with an essential worker’s rally. The two groups say they want change.
They chanted, “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!” on the Capitol lawn.
About 1,000 protesters, mostly college students and people Black Lives Matter supporters, had gathered at the same time on the north steps of the Capitol. The two groups decided it was the perfect blend to share the stage.
“These workers are a majority of black and brown workers,” Rep. Robyn Porter, (D) New Haven, said. “Black lives matter, whether it’s police brutality or a pandemic. COVID is killing us and the cops are killing us.”
But when workers stepped up to the microphone, impatient students marched off.
“Don’t think it’s a different issue when you walk away,” a worker said. “It’s the same issue. People are dying.”
Central Connecticut State University’s (CCSU) Black Student Union and Student Government Association said there is racial injustice on their campus.
“We are the future,” said Briana Kuo, President of the CCSU Student Government Association. “We are the now. It’s time for us to start speaking up and speaking about what we want changed.”
Protesters pointed to a racial slur spray-painted on the student union and campus police reportedly not listening to the complaints of black students.
“There’s never a follow up or an action,” Kuo explained. “We need to start having that action.”
“I fully support our students in the fight for justice,” President of the Connecticut State University system, Mark Ojakian, told News 8. “As the state’s public institutions of higher learning, change starts with us. Yet, even within a system that aims to be an on-ramp to upward mobility, students of color fall behind at a disproportionate rate. I stand committed to leading that change and our campus leaders are all ready to hear their concerns so that together we can improve our institutions for all students.”
With fists raised in the air, students vowed to stay strong.
President of CCSU Zulma Toro responded to allegations of racial disparity on campus by saying, “I acknowledge that we must do more to promote mutual respect on our campus, enhance our understanding of diversity, and promote equity and social justice. Let us work together as the Central family to ensure that, ‘I can’t breathe.’ are words never spoken on our campus.”
All sides agree to continue the conversation and remain peaceful.