Rally to remove Columbus statue becomes standoff between motorcycle club, protesters at Waterbury City Hall

New Haven

WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — Peaceful protesters gathered at Waterbury City Hall to rally against controversial statues and police brutality Thursday evening were met by counter-protesters from a local motorcycle club.

The rally began outside City Hall in Waterbury at 6 p.m. A group organized by the Council of American Islamic Relations spoke out about statues of Christopher Columbus that remain up around the state and spoke out about police brutality following the death of George Floyd.

The protest quickly escalated when the Rat Pack Motorcycle Club showed up and began to build a human wall around the Columbus statue outside the city hall. Both groups face-to-face.

The RPMC saying they are against what happened to Floyd in Minneapolis at the hands of police and are against police brutality in general, but for them, taking down the statue means their Italian heritage is being destroyed. Both groups strongly explaining their sides.

Steve Mannetti of RPMC explained, “We believe what their rights are. We believe what happened to George Floyd was wrong but, you know, we also believe that you can’t attack other peoples’ heritage. I mean, it’s just not right.”

Fahd Syed with the Council of American Islamic Relations and the organizer of the rally saying of the statue, “That’s a symbol of hate. We don’t want to have any kind of symbol of hate. We want this movement to continue. You could have a Black Lives Matter flag that’s up here now but unfortunately, if you have a symbol of hate on the other side, do really Black Lives Matter to you?”

At one point police stepped in. Some members from the RPMC began to listen to the other side.

“The hard truth is that he was a tyrant, a murderer, a slave trader. Knowing that fact knowing, that that you should be with us because we need you,” one protester said.

At the end of the day some did not see eye to eye, but others were open to listen, understand and respect each other.

Another rally to focus again on the removal of the statue was previously scheduled to be held Friday but has been postponed to next Friday.

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