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Protests in West Hartford, Hartford spark conversation around preventing police brutality, strengthen police-community relations

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WEST HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Outside City Hall in West Hartford Tuesday afternoon, News 8 was there as a peaceful protest kicked-off. Those gathered were demanding change in their community around policing following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.

A crowd of several hundred families and individuals gathered to listen, speak, and raise their voice against the injustice of racism and police brutality.

Main Street was shut off. The crowd took a knee chanting ‘we can’t breathe’ and ‘I can’t breathe!’ It’s an outcry against injustice, racism and police brutality. 

The goal: to make sure what happened in Minneapolis does not happen here in Connecticut or anywhere else.

RELATED: Peaceful Black Lives Matter protests across CT Tuesday call out injustice following death of George Floyd

The mayor tells News 8, Tuesday’s event was put together by a mom and a daughter. Mimi Gonzalez, 25, created the event as a tool for the community to speak up and speak out against injustice, but also to educate her 15-year-old sister with autism about what is going on.

They had a protest just like the one in West Hartford in New Britain Tuesday, as well.

These protests come after an emotional Monday in Hartford. First, the Hartford Police chief took a knee with protesters in front of the police department and released this statement:

“We heard you. We stood alongside you. We marched with you. Behind our masks, we chanted with you. Yesterday, the City of Hartford showed that we stand with you in protest to police brutality.”

Then the protesters take to the highway shutting down Interstate 84 during rush hour. In an emotional moment, State police joined hands with protesters and took a knee.

RELATED: Protesters blocked I-84 in Hartford Monday, law enforcement took a knee in show of solidarity

Everyone protesting here in Connecticut and across the country is trying to make change, but what does change mean and what does it look like?

Brian Foley of the Connecticut State Police said of the moment when CSP and protesters came together, “That is a moment to build on, to build trust and move forward. But there is a lot of work to be done in the police culture and in the police environment to have long and sustain change.”

Mike Oretade of Black Lives Matter said of the changes that have already been made, “There are body cams now, that needs to be an absolute requirement! That needs to be on everybody at all times, and it cannot be shut off!”

Rev. Lee Tre Brown of Black voices of New Britain said, “What’s next? Sitting down having conversations. They need to listen to the people. We need to get into the ears of the officials because they need to hear us. This isn’t about the city this is about the people.”

Jordan Burrell of West Hartford added, “I’m going to make sure that any little thing I see that needs to be fixed, or that I can fix I’m going to change it from the heart.”

There are even more protests planned across the state in the coming days and over the weekend in cities and suburbs. 

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