WALLINGFORD — About 200 people attended a rally Friday evening calling for the resignation of Republican state Rep. Craig Fishbein, with many gathering in front of his business office.
Fishbein, who represents the 90th district and is a town councilor, retweeted a meme on May 30 showing an image of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden giving a speech with the words "If you aren't setting fire to buildings then you ain't black" on top of the image.
He apologized and took down the post on June 1 after a public outcry.
The rally, held outside of Town Hall, was organized by a group of local students who carried out a peaceful protest last week in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement that drew more than 500 people.
A petition garnered about 115 signatures. The organizers, who continue to decline to identify themselves publicly, said they plan to deliver copies to Fishbein’s office and Gov. Ned Lamont.
“If Fishbein doesn’t represent all of us, he doesn’t deserve to represent any of us,” the petition stated in part.
Local former Democratic candidates Bruce Conroy and Darrell Stancuna facilitated the rally, moving through the crowd with a megaphone.
Several people addressed the crowd including Jim Jinks, a Democratic Cheshire Town Councilor who is running against Fishbein for the 90th House seat.
He turned in enough petition signatures to be on the November ballot Thursday, and on Friday he announced he qualified for Connecticut’s Clean Election Program, raising over $6,000 from 176 people in eight hours.
“Now that we have access to the ballot and have amazingly already qualified for public financing, we can concentrate on getting our message out to the voters,” he said.
Robert Glaspy, a former Wallingford resident who now lives in Milford, related an incident from October 2016 involving Fishbein that he said made him leave Wallingford.
Glaspy, who is black, posted a photo on Facebook of a mannequin dressed in Ku Klux Klan robes that had appeared on top of an abandoned building visible from Route 5 and tagged Fishbein.
Fishbein commented on Glaspy’s post that while it was "quite a horrible site in our town,” it looked Photoshopped.
After some back and forth, Fishbein shared a link to Glaspy’s divorce case. Fishbein was representing his ex-wife.
Glaspy, who works as a paramedic in the emergency room at Yale New Haven Hospital, said that he didn’t want to stay in Wallingford after the public spat.
“I didn’t feel like I was run out of town,” he said, “but I didn’t feel supported. I didn’t feel that I belonged.”
Wallingford resident Cara Esposito attended the rally with her 11-year-old daughter, Shia Thigpen. They live in Fishbein’s district.
“I would like the community to stand up for my daughter, and other people of color and black people,” Esposito said. “I don’t think it’s right to have a representative who says stuff like that.”
The 90th House District includes parts of Cheshire and Wallingford, including Yalesville.
Fishbein was first elected as a state representative in 2016 in a special election after the death of Democrat Mary G. Fritz created a vacancy. He’s currently vice chairman of the General Assembly’s Conservative Caucus.
The calls for Fishbein to resign as state representative started as soon as the retweet became publicly known. An online petition started June 1 by an anonymous person had almost 5,160 signatures as of Friday.
Fishbein did not return a request for comment.