The governor took part this morning in a wide-ranging discussion with several elected officials and community leaders from across the state of Connecticut on racial equality, social justice and what the state needs to be doing.
The nearly two-hour discussion covered a variety of topics, from education, to policing, political representation and much more.
State and local leaders came together for the important discussion at a time when people across the state and the nation have been demonstrating to express outrage and call for justice and action after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month.
Floyd, an unarmed Black man, was handcuffed and on the ground when a white police officer held his knee on Floyd’s death for nearly nine minutes.
When video surfaced that showed what happened to Floyd, people were outraged and started demonstrating.
Gov. Ned Lamont, Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, State Rep. Brandon McGee, State Rep. Anthony Nolan, Bloomfield Mayor Suzette DeBeatham-Brown, Hartford City Council President Maly Rosado, Bridgeport City Council President Aidee Nieves, New Haven Board of Alders Majority Leader the Reverend Richard Furlow, and Kica Matos, the director of the Center on Immigration and Justice for the Vera Institute of Justice, participated in the discussion.
The discussion happened on Juneteenth, the oldest known celebration marking the end of slavery in the United States.
After the discussion, the governor said he learned a lot.
Gibson, who represents Bloomfield and Windsor, said the healing cannot happen yet because of disparities, including in housing, access to health care, education employment opportunities.
“The achievement gap has to be closed,” Gibson said during the discussion Friday.
Rosado said city leaders have allocated $200,000 to the civilian police review board to review cases and they also want to have an independent oversight board to evaluate complaints about police officers.
She said the city can change policies in the police department, but human behavior needs to change.
Furlow, who is also a pastor in Bridgeport, said it was important for him to be part of this conversation on Juneteenth, his birthday.
He said cultural awareness and cultural training is needed.
Matos said any discussion of defunding police must also include discussing programs to protect immigrant communities.
DeBeatham-Brown said it’s important for police to come from the community to be able to deescalate situations.
Nolan said police officers should be peace officers, creating peace in the community and not hold the person for what they did in the past.