NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker says after seeing the passion in the protests throughout the city this weekend, he is working to start a dialogue with protesters and the community at large to work against racism in the Elm City.
Black Lives Matter protests in New Haven bubbled throughout the weekend. Sunday, protesters took over I-95, stopping traffic for over an hour. They then made their way to police headquarters where, after an attempt to get into the police station to talk to Mayor Elicker and police leadership, protesters were pepper-sprayed and moved away from the building.
Despite that, the weekend’s protests were mostly passionate but peaceful.
Mayor Elicker says if the protesters want to have a dialogue with him, he’s all for it, but he’s not been able to address them in a significant way after several attempts. He says during protests Friday a crowd came to his house and he tried to go outside to address them and he wasn’t able to. And during the protest Sunday he tried to go out to talk to protesters at the police department but it was not productive.
In an exclusive interview with News 8 Sunday night, the mayor addressed the protests directly and the death of George Floyd.
“This issue is so important,” he said, “and so many of us are outraged by the death of George Floyd.”
“Our police department and I are working very hard to ensure that we eliminate police brutality,” he added, “and that our police department is supporting community policing and officers aren’t over-policing the community, and [that they are] working collaboratively. And that’s what I intend to do.”
He said of the video of Floyd’s death that it was “just so offensive…so awful.” Now that we all have cell phones, he said, the injustices the brown and black community has suffered for so long are finally being exposed to all of us.
The protests in New Haven were one of several happening around the state and around the country this weekend, as people take to the streets to denounce police brutality against minorities, specifically protesting the death of George Floyd in the hands of Minneapolis police last week.
READ: Full statement Sunday evening from Mayor Justin Elicker addressed the protests in the Elm City and police brutality:
Today New Haven has experienced more than a thousand protesters deeply frustrated by the killing of George Floyd and police brutality. People are understandably angry and want action. I do, too.
Currently, protesters are outside of the Police Department and on Route 34. I’m glad to share that so far, the protest has been mostly peaceful, and the New Haven Police Department has shown great restraint.
I stand with the residents of New Haven and the New Haven Police to speak out against police brutality. What happened to George Floyd and what has happened to many others must stop. Chief Reyes and I have been abundantly clear about our expectations, that our officers work with compassion, that our officers don’t over-police our neighborhoods, that our officers embody the spirit of real community policing.
We’ve also been clear that if there is any complaint of misconduct, we will investigate and hold any officers accountable. I also stand ready to talk collaboratively with the protesters and the community at large to better understand, to listen and to begin to address racism. I hope you stand ready, too. But we must have these conversations respectfully, collaboratively, and peacefully. Otherwise, we can’t be successful. I urge New Haven residents with all my heart to be open to these conversations and to protest but do it peacefully. We will get through this very challenging time.– New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker