MERIDEN – City Councilor Miguel Castro’s arrest at a deportation protest last week dominated Monday’s City Council meeting, as over a dozen local and statewide immigration advocates voiced support for Castro during a lengthy public comment period.
Many people who know Castro, who was at the meeting, praised his character and his passion and commitment to the community and advocating for immigrants’ rights.
“Any active public official who goes the extra step to take a stand on tough, controversial issues and also becomes personally involved in community activism, is going to be faced with some risks. Councilor Castro has taken these risks but he has steadfastly stood up for what is right despite the negative publicity,” said city resident Mark Kosnoff, director of the social justice advocacy group United Action Connecticut.
“I have never, ever seen a mean streak in Miguel, any violent streak in Miguel ever,” said Kim Fischer, president of the Meriden-Wallingford NAACP. “He has always fought for whatever was needed...We stand by him now.”
On Thursday, police charged Castro, a Democrat on the council since 2012, with two counts of assault on public safety personnel and one count of first-degree riot following an incident at Meriden Superior Court, 54 W. Main St. Castro denied the allegations in a statement last week, calling the charges “unjust and unwarranted.”
The news of Castro’s arrest was reported by several news outlets around the state and country on Friday.
Despite a light meeting agenda, a crowd of well over 50 people attended Monday’s meeting. City Council rules only allow for 30 minutes of public comment, but councilors unanimously voted to extend public comment, which took up about 75 minutes of the 90-minute meeting.
Public comment was interrupted by a hostile argument between Mayor Kevin Scarpati and resident Rev. Ernestine Holloway, who ran against Scarpati in 2016. Scarpati interrupted Holloway while she was speaking to remind Holloway to direct her comments to the council.
Holloway and Scarpati then had a heated exchange about whether Holloway should be allowed to go over the speaking time limit of 3 minutes because Scarpati interrupted her. The argument prompted Scarpati to request that three police officers at meeting escort Holloway out. Holloway returned to her seat and refused to leave the council chambers. Scarpati said he felt unsafe and threatened when Holloway said, “We need to go after (Scarpati) and everyone on the City Council,” which Holloway said wasn’t a physical threat. Scarpati refused to continue public comment until Holloway was removed, but Holloway was ultimately allowed to stay after Scarpati conferred with the city manager and council leadership.
Read more articles like this and help support local journalism by subscribing to the Record Journal.
Unlimited Digital Access just 99¢
Read more articles like this by subscribing to the Record Journal.
Unlimited Digital Access for just 99¢