Nutman: Mayors Against Racists

When, last fall, at the behest of Dustin Gold, the co-founder and chief strategist of the anti-immigration group Community Watchdog Project, hate e-mails and phone calls flooded Mayor John DeStefano’s office, DeStefano responded swiftly. Within days, he gathered a diverse group of civic leaders on the New Haven Green to speak out against CWP’s actions. He reaffirmed the city’s commitment to its burgeoning immigrant community, and a month later he strongly encouraged the Board of Aldermen to accept the private funding and keep the Elm City ID card program alive for another year.

When Northeast White Pride, a Massachusetts-based white supremacist group, delivered hate fliers to Latino-owned East Haven businesses earlier this month, the city’s mayor, April Capone Almon, did nothing.

Admittedly, her failure to act may be due in part to her police force’s involvement in events that likely spurred the hate group’s actions. The East Haven Police Department is under fire from members of its relatively small Latino community who allege racial profiling, harassment and rampant abuse of power. Tensions came to a head in February, when Father James Manship, the priest of Fair Haven’s St. Rose of Lima church, came to address complaints of his parishioners by documenting East Haven police activity using a camcorder. After a confrontation with the police, he was arrested on charges of disorderly conduct and interfering with a police officer.

Though Manship may not have shown proper deference to the officers that night, the arrest was not clean. Manship was videotaping police as they removed license plates from the wall of the Latino-run My Country Store (the police contend that they were merely seizing illegally possessed expired plates). Video footage shows officers trying to take a hard drive containing the store’s security camera footage once they realized their actions were being taped.

Worse, it took the East Haven Police Department nearly two weeks, until the morning of Manship’s arraignment, to release an official police report. It does not help that in his community, Manship is a popular guy; as a strong advocate of immigrant’s rights and the Elm City ID, and with a willingness to stand up to authority, he has come to be seen as a protector. His arrest spurred action in East Haven and Fair Haven: Dozens of supporters came to a press conference on the Green, and business owners in East Haven gave testimony of the long-standing harassment they have suffered at the hands of the East Haven police. Their stores (and Manship’s church) got the fliers.

The details of Manship’s arrest are disputed and currently under investigation. Almon therefore does not have to weigh in on the arrest, or even necessarily on the issues the police department is facing, though New Haven Advocate Associate Editor Betsy Yagla suggested otherwise last week (“Missing in Acción: East Haven’s mayor is shockingly quiet when it comes to police harassment and hate groups,” March 17).

Policing policy often reflects the mayor’s vision for law enforcement — in New Haven, for example, Police Chief James Lewis and DeStefano together unveiled the city’s new Targeted Activity Policing approach last month, with DeStefano providing much of the logic behind the decision. But in this instance the mayor’s voicing an opinion may create undue controversy and interfere with the investigation. Not addressing the hate fliers, however, is unacceptable.

There is debate about whether the tactics of the East Haven Police, which allegedly include pulling over drivers without cause, demanding to see identification (that is often defaced if it is from out of state), and yelling and swearing, are legal or just — something that will hopefully be resolved as the Manship case is tried. But regardless of their legality or purpose, they do little to make Latinos in a community want to contact the police when in need of protection.

The mayor’s nonchalance compounds the problem because it isolates those receiving the fliers rather than showing solidarity with them (it does not help that Latinos only make up less than 6 percent of East Haven’s mostly white population). And by not speaking out on behalf of this community, Almon lets Northeast White Pride, a Klan associated, neo-Nazi group, off the hook.

Sarah Nutman is a sophomore in Trumbull College.

Comments

  • Recent Alum

    The Community Watchdog Project is an anti-illegal immigration organization, not an anti-immigrant organization. Does the author really not understand the difference, or does she just pretend not to understand to facilitate her agenda?

  • Missourian

    Who is really "off the hook" here? How about enforcing the laws of the U.S. Government and the state of Connecticut?

    I am all for fair and equitable treatment of everyone, regardless of their "Legal" country, BUT when you break the law and enter into the USA with little regard for the law what do you expect? A nice welfare duplex paid for by the hard working citizens of East Haven? Please…Spare me …

  • Anonymous

    Each day we as Americans are subjected to the massive criminal enterprises of the illegal immigration invasion. If fraudulent use of our social security wasn't enough, we also have a growing rate of rape, child predators, assaults, drug dealers and murders. Heinous crimes that should not be just associated with the millions slipping across our almost undefended border. But illegal individuals who have over stayed their passport visas, or left a ship without permission. Yes! Our immigration system of laws are broken, mainly because the 1986 Simpson/Mazzoli law have never been enforced correctly?

    The powers in Washington have done everything to undermine any new illegal immigration prevention law. One reason is for propagation of the free trade treaties, but the unquestionable movement of cheap labor for the corporate overseer's of our puppet politicians. We are after all a nation run with a minority of corporate elitists. Wall street plays a major roll in how our country is run, and displayed its greed with the AIG bonuses disclosed in the Stimulus/Omnibus Another massive controversy is the arrogance of Democratic leaders lawmakers who killed the Federal E-verify system of identifying people in the workplace, who illegal and had no right to jobs.

    American Workers each day are inundated by foreign nationals in competition, at unskilled, blue collar and even to the management class. E-Verify has been subjected to adverse assessments, by its critics with everything to gain from its destruction. The question is, why send the American people, grandchildren to the poorhouse, when we could remove 40 million (analysis of Heritage Foundation) quartered here. We underwrite with hundreds of billions of cash benefits and services that should only be for legal masses. Blame Madam Pelosi, Sen Reid and 40 other legislators who are playing havoc with American worker, by denying ongoing funding for E-verify. It is our only efficient, easy access tool to remove the blemish of so-called undocumented workers. Read all the ignoble facts kept away from the public view at NUMBERSUSA, JUDICIALWATCH, CAPSWEB. Call your Senator--DEMAND E-VERIFY. 202-224-3121

  • Mexaholic

    La Carreta has without a doubt the best Quesedilla I have ever had, too bad they dont have a "
    Sit Down" restaurant, I would be a good customer…

  • Anonymous

    Dave C., if you want anyone to listen to you, write some coherent English.

  • Anonymous

    are the first three commenters serious? jesus christ.

  • An American

    Yes, they are serious. Serious about not getting murdered, not getting raped, not having their children molested, and not having their standard of living dragged down by uneducated, unskilled, overwhelmingly violent, and evolutionarily moribund Third Worlders who have no reason, right, or business living in Civilization.

  • Anonymous

    Why is the White Pride group automatically labeled a hate group ?
    What did they do ?
    I would also like to ask you why Whites should continue to participate in a system that rewards illegal behavior and
    disadvantages them ?