Protesters outside Capitol call for change while lawmakers wrap up final day of regular session in Hartford


HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — While inside the Capitol Wednesday lawmakers were dotting the “I” and crossing the “T”s on the final legislation of the regular session, outside protesters from all different groups were trying to get their message heard.

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On one side of the Capitol campus you have a lot of people with signs saying “Unmask Our Children”, and then just around on the other side of the building, there’s a large group of protesters working for rights for undocumented immigrants.

Hundreds of protesters gathered, erecting tents and flags and signs, using their First Amendment right to try and change the minds of lawmakers before the legislative session ends.

Kathleen Pirozzoli of Bethlehem, one of the protesters, told News 8, “Our children are our legacy and our heritage, and if we don’t do this now, I can’t look at my grandchildren and know that what will happen to them when I’m not here?”

Some people want the religious exemption for vaccines brought back.

RELATED: CT becomes 6th state in nation to ban religious exemption for childhood inoculations

Casey O’Toole of Watertown said, “I am going to a private school, and they require the vaccine. And I have had some medical stuff in the past, and I don’t feel comfortable getting it.”

Lauren O’Toole, Casey’s mom, added, “Whatever it takes. I want her to know that I am willing to work hard and do the right thing, and stand up for what I believe in.”

Others want to unmask their children in the classroom.

Alima Bryant of Prospect said, “In 100° weather, he has his mask on. It’s ridiculous. It’s terrible. I see my kid come home he can barely breathe he has sweat down his back; it’s not right.”

Many people were there protesting because they believe the government has gone too far.

Thea Alfes of Woodbury said, “I came to say that my faith and my freedom are not theirs to debate. The constitution rules overall and a lot of the bills and things they are discussing here are unconstitutional.”

Several of the protesters have come up to News 8 expressing how upset they are that the barricades are there and the Capitol is not open to the public.

Right now, it’s the only state building not open to the public. There have been some gunshots fired at the Capitol, people driving on the lawn, a lot of security issues, but they say this is a democracy, and democracy should be carried out in the open.

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Maribeth Sweeney of Prospect said, “If you are transparent with what you’re doing why not open the doors? Why not let us participate, why not let us see what’s going on?”

Protesters say they’ve been here day in and day out, even after they got rid of the religious exemption. And they say they will be here next session and a session after that until they can get change in what they want. 

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