NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A group of African-American clergy members gathered Tuesday morning to tell the press that, compared to a lot of other cities, New Haven’s African American community has a good relationship with the police.
They do not want outside influences to damage that relationship.
The Pastors and Reverends bowed their heads, literally praying that New Haven’s protests continue to be peaceful. The death of an unarmed African American man in Minnesota under the knee of a white officer, has enraged a lot of people.
“They are angry,” said Rev. Dr. Boise Kimber, of the First Calvary Baptist Church. “We do not want this anger to transform into burning and to breaking windows and to tearing down our buildings.”
Instead, on Sunday, protesters marched through the city and onto I-95, hurting traffic flow, but nothing else.
“When the people marched across the highway and into New Haven City, they did so peacefully, without any provocation from the police,” explained community activist Barbara Fair.
There was a moment when some threatened to storm the Police headquarters, and officers put on riot gear and used pepper spray, but the clergy here say that seemed to be incited by people from out of town.
“For those that are coming into our city and are not from our city, talking about, ‘Whose streets? Our streets,’” said Pastor John Lewis of Life Center Ministries. “No, it’s not your streets, it’s the streets of the residents who live here in New Haven.”
The residents of New Haven have worked on their relationship with police. The pastors here say they think around 1 in 7 of the protesters were not from here, and for them they have a message:
“You are not welcome in this city to disrupt this city, to tear down this city, to make statements at our chief,” Kimber said.
They say that what really counts in judging recent protests is whether anyone was hurt, whether anyone was arrested, and whether any property was damaged. So far, the answer in New Haven has been pretty much “no.”