Two incidents reported over the past week in New Haven have prompted a candidate for Connecticut attorney general to call for an investigation into racial profiling.
Green Party candidate Peter Goselin issued the call in response to the June 6 arrest on the Green of a man who had been loudly criticizing police and the mistaken-identity arrest of a 70-year-old woman who has the same name of an unrelated 50-year-old woman wanted on a misdemeanor warrant.
“Two events in one week involving New Haven police officers and African-American residents, in the context of a national epidemic of police misconduct against people of color, shows the need for action to enforce civil rights laws against the NHPD,” Goselin stated in a release. The release also criticized the police for the controversial arrests of an African-American man, Nate Blair, and a Native-American man, Norman Clement, at a 2017 anti-Trump protest in town. (State police arrested Clement, New Haven police, Blair.)
“There are far too many reports of misconduct by New Haven police, and far too many of the victims are people of color,” said Goselin, a long-time civil rights lawyer and activist. “Police officers and police departments are not exempt from Connecticut’s civil rights laws,” Goselin argued.
He called on Attorney General George Jepsen to launch an investigation into possible racial profiling and on other candidates for the open attorney general seat in this year’s election to respond to the incidents.
Jepsen spokeswoman Jaclyn Severance emailed the Independent this response: “While we do appreciate Mr. Goselin’s concerns, the Connecticut attorney general’s authority to investigate and litigate is defined and limited by state statute. The attorney general’s existing statutory authority does not permit him to act under these circumstances. Mr. Goselin’s complaints would be better directed to an agency that does have this authority, such as the U.S. Department of Justice.”
Three other attorney general candidates reached for comment declined to weigh in on the specifics of the New Haven incidents.
“I promote the fair and non-discriminatory treatment of all citizens and have no comment as to the specific allegations,” endorsed Republican candidate Susan Hatfield stated in a release from her campaign.
Democratic candidates Chris Mattei and William Tong vowed to take racial profiling seriously if elected.
“As Chair of the Judiciary Committee, I’ve led the General Assembly in passing some of the most comprehensive and far-reaching laws to combat racial profiling, including strengthening the Alvin Penn Act. I’ve taken on a system of mass incarceration and criminal justice reform by passing the Second Chance Society Law, the bail reform law and the Excessive Use of Force law. I have also worked hard to introduce and fund the use of body cameras by law enforcement in Connecticut,” Tong stated in a release issued by his campaign. “I have confidence in New Haven’s ability to investigate and stop any conduct that violates the civil rights of families in that community, and as AG, I will work closely with city officials and law enforcement to do all that we can to prevent racial profiling and incidents in the future.”
Mattei stressed in a statement that the attorney general “has a critical role to play in protecting the civil rights of every resident of this state.”
Police Chief Anthony Campbell said he has asked for an internal review of the Chapel Street arrest, noting that he was “disturbed” by what he saw in the video.