Waterbury reaction to officer-involved killing in Minneapolis: pastors’ podcast and planned protest

New Haven

WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — A group, posting on social media, saidit’s planning a nonviolent protest on The Waterbury Green on Sunday morning to combat what it calls systemic racism and police brutality.

This, after the country saw on video a Minneapolis police officer thrusting his knee to the neck of George Floyd, an African-American man, for several minutes as he lay in the street yelling, “I can’t breathe.”

That officer, Derek Chauvin, is no longer on the force. But, what he did in the video is etched in many people’s minds and is once again raising the issues of police brutality and how we deal with racism in America.

The killing has caused protests around the country, and Connecticut is no exception. A group posted on Facebook on Friday that it is planning a nonviolent protest on The Waterbury Green Sunday at 10 a.m.

Ginne-Rae Clay, President of the Waterbury NAACP, says her group engages in regular dialogue with Police Chief Fernando Spagnolo to try to build bridges in the community.

“Here in our community, we don’t want a Minneapolis,” Clay tells News 8. “Anytime there’s a situation that might bubble up that I may hear of, the chief may hear of, an African-American leader may hear of, we reach out to each other.”

She says hers is not a perfect community, but leaders of different diverse groups in the city often come together, as well.

“And it’s not just the African-American community,” Clay says. “It’s the faith-based community, it’s the Jewish community, it’s the Albanian community, that meet and talk and try to talk as often as possible to understand and respect each other.”

She calls what happened in Minneapolis “sad” and “disgusting.”

She isn’t the only person speaking up. Waterbury Pastor Rodney Wade, of the Long Hill Bible Church, held a podcast Friday night, along with some Pastors in Hartford, to denounce the latest incident of police brutality against an African-American man. They also used the podcast to open up a dialogue about race in a rolled-up sleeves approach to the problem.

“We want to have a serious conversation about that,” Pastor Wade says. “We don’t want to sugarcoat, we don’t want to operate in symbolism but we really want to talk about the pain, the mental stress.”

“We want to address this notion that racism is behind us,” he adds.

Pastor Wade called the videotaped murder of George Floyd: “a modern-day lynching.”

There are no protests being organized by the local chapter of the NAACP so far. But, Clay tells News 8 she may start to think about planning a peaceful “Walk of Solidarity” filled with African-American men with careers, families, and goals.

The message she’d like to send to others: “Our Black men are not a threat.”

Anyone planning on going to the nonviolent protest at The Waterbury Green is asked to wear a mask to help curb the spread of the coronavirus during this pandemic.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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