Students from Naugatuck High School are taking part in a protest Wednesday afternoon in response to racial comments allegedly made by a member of the police chief's family a couple of years ago.
The flyer for the protest on Wednesday invited community members to take part in a peaceful protest on the green at 1 p.m. and there was a march from the sidewalk of the high school to the green.
Protestors carrying signs with images of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and others that say Black Lives Matter chanted “No justice, no peace” as they headed toward the green.
According to a joint statement from the mayor, the chair of the Naugatuck Police Commission, and the deputy chief of police, they were made aware of the comments circulating social media, which are being attributed to a member of Police Chief Steven Hunt's family, Friday and have begun an investigation. The town's board of education is also investigating, and there are plans for an independent investigation from an outside party.
Officials did not specify what the comments were, but described them as "disgusting and totally inappropriate," saying that the town values inclusiveness and diversity, and adding that they "condemn any act of racism or bigotry."
"The statements, which were sent privately to a juvenile acquaintance, were despicable in nature and inexcusable," they said.
"We have raised all three of our children in a loving household always appreciative of the rich diversity in our community and the complex and often inequitable history of race in our society. We condemn the comments made in these messages," the statement from Steven and Johnna Hunt said.
Naugatuck superintendent Christopher Montini also released a statement, saying, the Naugatuck Public School family has been shaken by hateful, discriminatory, and racist comments from a member of the student body that were released to social media,”
‘In recent days, our Naugatuck Public School family has been shaken by hateful, discriminatory, and racist comments from a member of the student body that were released to social media. We’ve heard from members of our NPS Community who no longer feel safe, heard, or valued. In difficult times, like the one we are facing, we are reminded of the principles that guide us, the values that direct us, and the commitment we make to each and every student,” Montini wrote.
He went on to say they were called to address “serious issues and allegations of racism and threats. Please know that any claim or incident of racism or threats within the NPS community are taken seriously and investigated fully.”
In their statement, the police chief and his wife said, "We have raised all three of our children in a loving household always appreciative of the rich diversity in our community and the complex and often inequitable history of race in our society. We condemn the comments made in these messages."
"In no way, shape or form do they reflect our hearts, minds or the love we have for
all our neighbors in this inclusive community. These words do not represent the words spoken in our home or the values and lessons we have taught our children," the statement continued.
The family said they apologize to all those who were hurt by the comments.
"Naugatuck has always been a special place for our family. We were both born and raised here, and take great pride in the wonderful, accepting community that it is... We are ashamed that this incident occurred and has portrayed our beloved Borough in a negative manner," the family said.
The family said they plan to take time to reflect on all that has transpired and they "welcome the opportunity to listen, grow and engage in respectful dialogue to begin the healing process."
Naugatuck town officials released a statement Friday condemning the alleged comments and said there are multiple investigations pending into the matter.
"These comments are not consistent with Police Chief Hunt's character and leadership of the department as well as the values he has instilled in our Police Department," the statement from the mayor, the chair of the Naugatuck Police Commission, and the deputy chief of police reads.
“I assure you that NPS remains committed to affirming the value of diversity, cultivating equity and belonging, and condemning racist and discriminatory treatment. We will always investigate and those investigations are guided by facts, the dignity of each person, and the great responsibility we have to provide a safe and inclusive environment for all students. This important and hard work will continue, informed by the beliefs and principles that guide us. And, in moments of challenge, uncertainty, hurt, pain, and anger, NPS will reflect, grow, act, and move forward, together as a community, committed to ensuring that each and every student is safe, celebrated, and valued,” Montini wrote.