New Haven Mayor Toni N. Harp and Puerto Ricans United President Joe Rodriguez joined together for the Puerto Rican flag-raising ceremony on Thursday.
The event set the stage for the Puerto Rican Festival Saturday on the New Haven Green.
But an online comment is catching the attention of organizers and police.
The New Haven Police Department has been working with other city departments and event organizers in planning for the New Haven Puerto Rican Festival, which is set to take place on Saturday. NHPD has learned of a recent social media comment which has created concerns about this weekend’s event.
Police Chief Otoniel Reyes issued this statement:
“I am aware of the comment that was posted on social media referencing the Puerto Rican Festival on Saturday and have launched a full investigation. We are working closely with our federal, state and local partners, as we do for all major events, and have not identified any threat to the event. I encourage everyone to come out with their families to enjoy Saturday’s festivities on the New Haven Green. The NHPD looks forward to sharing in the celebration and will be working alongside our partners to ensure everyone at the event has a safe and enjoyable experience.”
The words were clear on Thursday afternoon from people coming together to celebrate the kickoff of the Puerto Rico Parade.
“Anytime you receive a threat to public safety especially when we’re having a public event, we take it pretty seriously,” said Rick Fontana, the director of New Haven’s Emergency Operations. “When we see what’s going around the rest of the world, it makes us really concerned, but we do know that we do have plans and protocols in place.”
The hate speech did not drown the emotions from those who came together as one blended community.
Joe Rodriguez wants everyone to remember that unity is the best way to move forward.
“We’re going to do what we do best as a community and that’s in the presence of hate, we’re going to respond with love, in the presence of division we’re going to respond with unity,” said Rodriguez. “We need to stand up speak out now more than ever and be proud of who we are and what we stand for.”
Leaders and a diverse audience stood together as one to celebrate the kickoff event.
Enna Garcia says the annual festival is a reminder of why diversity creates for a better nation.
“We need to come out together and demonstrate that we’re not going to live in fear we’re just going to enjoy our ourselves and do what we came to do,” said Garcia. “The festival shows that were being represented across the nation and our town.”
Michelle Lee Rodriguez is proud to see her culture celebrated and embraced by the city.
“We want to unite and always share with everyone with all of our cultures,” said Rodriguez. “Everything that we have from our food, music, traditions and all our music.”