Hamden Mayor Plans Task Force to Address Equity, Inclusion

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Hamden mayor Curt Leng is on a mission to improve diversity in town through a new effort, the Hamden Equity and Inclusivity Taskforce.

Hamden Mayor Curt Leng is on a mission to improve diversity in town through a new effort, the Hamden Equity and Inclusivity Task Force.

The plans announced this week follow an unauthorized slave play at the West Woods School as well as other incidents the mayor said have occurred in town.

“Put straight forward, I think it was insensitive and inappropriate,” said Leng of the play. He added that he let the school board handle the issue, until it came to the Town Hall steps in a recent protest. He decided it was time to reevaluate the town.

“It’s really important for us to take a step back and let’s look at all of our institutions,” said Leng.

The group will look at departments and processes in town to find areas that may have issues including different types of bias.

They’ll work with universities like Quinnipiac, members of the Board of Education and Legislative Council, the NAACP and other community groups to determine where they can make improvements.

“We’re trying to bring these people around a bigger table to say okay, we’re doing a lot of good work in different spots, can we do even better if we bring some of these things together,” said Leng.

The mayor pointed to current programs like the Racial and Ethnic Disparities (RED) committee and the Equity Committee of the Board of Education that are already underway. He said the Equity Committee has already lead to increased diversity in teacher hires.  Some residents welcome more.

“Hamden definitely needs diversity and needs a change, and I think it’s a good idea,” said Hamden resident Kiyana Robinson.

“I think it’s a nice town to live in and I have no complaints,” said Mary-Anne Iannoti.

The plan comes as the town also deals with another high-profile event. Hamden officer Devin Eaton faces charges for firing 13 times at a car last April. He has pleaded not guilty.

While Leng could not comment on that case, he said it’s time to look at ways to move forward, and he invites the public’s input.

“If you don’t have community input and we’re not listening as a group, and learning from each other then it will be a complete waste of time,” Leng said.

The first meeting of the task force is set for Thursday, February 13 at 6 p.m. at Hamden Middle School.

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