Meriden police, City Council condemn racism, brutality after George Floyd death

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MERIDEN — The police department said it “stands with its community against racism and police brutality” in a statement issued Monday denouncing the Minneapolis police officers involved in the killing of 46-year-old father George Floyd.

“We as a police department are outraged at the actions of former Officer Derek Chauvin of the Minneapolis Police Department, which were videoed last week,” the statement by police read. “We are equally disturbed by the lack of moral courage displayed by the three additional officers who did nothing to stop former officer Chauvin’s horrific and excessive brutality.”

Floyd, a black man who was in handcuffs and lying face down on the ground at the time, died after Chauvin, who is white, held his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes until he stopped breathing. In doing so, Chauvin ignored bystander shouts to get off him and Floyd’s cries that he couldn’t breathe.

Wallingford police also issued a statement Monday publicly condemning the officers’ actions.  

“The callousness and disregard shown for Mr. Floyd is sickening and leaves everyone, including police officers from our department, shocked, appalled, and infuriated,’ Wallingford Police Chief William Wright said. “I’m personally disgusted.”

Meriden police in their statement called on the community to work and “unite” with police to address “a long history of strained relations” between police and minorities.

A peaceful protest of Floyd's killing is planned for Saturday at the Meriden Green from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., according to an event flyer being circulated on social media. A peaceful march is also scheduled to take place Sunday at 1 p.m., beginning at City Hall and ending at the Meriden Green, according to another flyer. 

“We, the Meriden Police Department, will stand with our citizens as one community in a peaceful protest against police brutality and racism. We hear your concerns. We are listening,” the statement read. “We further acknowledge that the police and minority communities throughout the United States have a long history of strained relations and that the police have not always gotten it right.”

Police see the killing of Floyd as “an opportunity for positive change.”

“Let’s build upon the trust and relationships that we have forged within our community,” the statement read. “The Meriden Police Department is the community and the community is the police. We are one, and we stand together.”

Racial equity council

Amid widespread unrest and outrage over Floyd’s killing, the Meriden City Council drafted a resolution that would take several steps to address racial inequalities locally, including formation of a “cultural diversity and racial equity council.”

The council voted Monday night to refer the resolution to the council’s committee of the whole. The committee, made up of all 12 councilors, will workshop the resolution and then refer it back to the council for adoption. The council originally planned to adopt the resolution Monday but decided more time was needed for review, modifications, and public input. 

“The Mayor and City Council stands together and united against all racial discrimination practices, including racial profiling and police brutality,” the resolution reads. 

The resolution lists nine steps the council and mayor plan to take to address racial inequalities, including proactively communicating “all reported issues of discrimination findings” and making racial equity and cultural diversity training a part of training for all city employees. 

The resolution also states members of the police department will participate in mandatory “initial and annual on-going racial bias training programs.” It calls on the mayor and council to develop and apply a “racial impact” metric with which to “evaluate resolutions when they are being drafted and prior to passage.” If the resolution passes as currently drafted, the police department will also be required to “track and report racial equity centered statistics as part of its reports to the City Council’s Public Safety Committee.” 

Democrat Sonya Jelks, who is black, said she is very proud of the statement by police and very grateful the council is taking “this first step in looking at ways in which we can truly be agents of change around racial discrimination and police brutality. 

“Many times we see a lot of these tragedies that occur and we feel sad. Most of the time they’re not in our community, so we don’t necessarily relate to them,” Jelks said. “As a person of color, these things always impact us because we see ourselves many times reflected in the people who are either killed or harmed during these police arrests.” 

mzabierek@record-journal.com203-317-2279Twitter: @MatthewZabierek

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