Members of the Board of Alders met Tuesday evening in City Hall to discuss a plan to allocate funds for a new police dog. But the meeting took an unexpected turn when about 50 New Haven residents, who were protesting police brutality just outside, stormed the chamber.
The protesters — who waved homemade posters and chanted slogans like “No justice, no peace, no racist police” — occupied the hall for over an hour. During that time, they expressed their frustrations to the alders and proposed courses of action that they believed the city government should take to curb police brutality and empower New Haven residents. The protest was spurred by the alleged assault of New Haven resident Holly Tucker by two New Haven Police Department police officers during a traffic stop on Sept. 10. Tucker, who was at the protest, said she was dragged from her car by one of the officers, thrown to the ground, handcuffed and spent the night in jail while her young daughter was unaware of the situation and waiting for her, worried, at home. At the protest, Tucker showed that she still had bruises on her arms from the altercation.
“A mother was dragged out of her car and we’re here talking about a dog,” said Barbara Fair, Holly Tucker’s mother and the leader of Tuesday’s protest.
The protesters said Tucker’s experience was part of a pattern of racially charged assaults against Black and Latino residents by NHPD officers. Most of the protesters had participated in similar demonstrations in the past.
The four alders present at the meeting — Hill Alder Dave Reyes, Wooster Square Alder Aaron Greenberg, Fair Haven Heights Alder Barbara Constantinople and Quinnipiac Meadows Alder Gerald Antunes — initially tried to ignore the protesters and continue their meeting. However, this only further angered the crowd, who began to vent their frustrations concerning the alders and addressed two policemen present in the hall, one of whom allegedly assaulted a friend of the protesters earlier this year.
“We matter more than your protocol and your f—ing dogs,” one protester exclaimed.
Loud chants of “No justice, no peace” and “Who polices the police” filled the room, making it impossible to continue the meeting.
After the alders allowed protesters to approach the table and voice their opinions, the tension paralyzing the room gave way to urgent calls for policy change and collaboration between residents and city government. Leaders of the protest spoke about the need for community activists and city government officials to cooperate.
“I know you guys are politicians, but I don’t want to talk to politicians tonight,” Shelton Tucker, Holly Tucker’s brother, said. “I want to talk to the children your moms raised — to the person you see in the mirror at night, when only you and God are there.”
Several protesters urged the alders to create a civilian review board with subpoena power that could investigate instances of alleged police brutality. At the same time, protesters criticized City Hall for being slow to address the issue.
Other protesters demanded answers concerning the status of the investigation into the actions of the officers involved in the altercation with Holly Tucker.
“I didn’t abuse my daughter. Her dad didn’t abuse her. Her boyfriend doesn’t abuse her,” Fair said, with rising emotion in her voice. “I’ll be damned if I let some punk with a badge and a gun drag my daughter out of her car and slam her on the ground.”
The alders stayed mostly silent during the testimonials and offered no indication that any of the actions suggested by the protesters would be implemented soon.
At around 7:30 p.m., the protesters began to file out of the alder chamber.
“We’re not stopping until we get justice,” Fair said.