MANCHESTER, Conn. (WTNH)– Governor Ned Lamont took part in a news briefing denouncing hate crimes and racial slurs on Wednesday.
The governor spoke at Mary Cheney Library in Manchester. He was joined by Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz, Manchester Mayor Jay Moran, and a number of state lawmakers and town officials.
In his opening remarks, the governor talked about how Connecticut is facing “two evil and highly contagious viruses right now” – COVID-19 and racism.
The governor and legislators discussed police accountability laws, problems in housing segregation, and sentencing for hate and bias crimes.
But leaders also say they need regular citizens to continue community dialogue. Lamont called on residents to speak up and act if they see instances of racism, using the “see something, say something” mantra.
Calls for change outside the building met with pledges of action from those on the inside of the political system.
One lawmaker urging, “we can’t wait because the community needs action now. Words are not enough.”
The Lt. Gov. says there have been at least 7 racially-motivated crimes in the state since June where Black people were targetted, assaulted, or harassed because of the color of their skin.
“In Bloomfield, Coventry, South Windsor, Stonington, Ledyard, [Manchester]…we condemn those acts of intolerance,” she said.
And in Manchester – where lawmakers gathered – three Black teenagers were chased down and called the N-word on Main Street last month. Two men have been charged in connection to the incident.
Christina Torres, the mother of one of those victims, was at the press conference and wants more severe charges and sentencing for hate crimes.
“When things like this happen there should be no question on the charges,” Torres urged.
Corey Betts of the Hartford NAACP said, “We’ll be following the police; we’ll be following the prosecutors; we’ll be following everybody to make sure that these individuals…will know these things will not be tolerated not in our state.”
Several other speakers have given passionate speeches about their personal experiences with the systemic racism this event is called out.
Governor Lamont went on to challenge President Trump to stand up to and call out racism, saying that the president is more likely to defend Confederate statues than the Statue of Liberty.
State Senator Saud Anwar added, “We’re worried about the statues. I’m worried about the statutes.”
When News 8 asked Torres what she’ll tell her son about the promises made Wednesday, she said, “I’m going to tell him that you guys are out here fighting for him.”
A lot hangs on the special session coming up this month. The governor acknowledging it will take more than one session to create lasting change. But Wednesday, leaders pledged they won’t drop the ball.