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June 12, 2018

Contact: Peter Goselin
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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, says Peter Goselin, the Green Party candidate for Connecticut Attorney General. Goselin criticized the NHPD's record and called for incumbent AG George Jepsen to investigate the department for violations of civil rights laws. Goselin also challenged the Democratic Party contenders for the AG's office, Chris Mattei and William Tong, to speak out on the issue.

The June 6 arrest of Jerome Richardson, 25, on the New Haven Green was witnessed and caught on film by community activists; they say officers wrestled Richardson to the ground, handcuffing and arresting him, after he questioned the officers’ treatment of homeless people on the Green. On May 31, Sheila Brown was arrested by an NHPD officer after she called the police for help following an automobile accident. Brown, age 70, was arrested on outstanding warrants for another woman with the same name, even though she had identification showing she was twenty years older than the person listed on the warrants. Brown was held by the police for four hours; a state court judge dismissed the charges against her based on mistaken identity.

The recent arrests follow a history of incidents in which the NHPD is accused of targeting people of color. These include a February 4, 2017, incident in which New Haven and State police singled out and targeted a Black man and Native man during a protest against Donald Trump's proposed border wall and "Muslim ban," picking Nate Blair and Norman Clement out from a large crowd in what their attorney called a "police riot." Blair was slammed to the ground by multiple New Haven officers while Clement was pepper sprayed and brutally arrested.

"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. Attorney General Jepsen needs to investigate to find the problem, whether it's the department culture, the training of officers, or just standard operating procedures at the NHPD. The AG's office has the power to take action, including bringing civil claims. If necessary the Attorney General should do as the feds did in East Haven: have the department placed under court-ordered supervision until the problems are resolved."

Goselin also called on the Democratic Party candidates for Attorney General to take a stand. "At this moment, the most pressing civil rights problem in the country is the systemic racism experienced by people of color at the hands of law enforcement. No one should have to fear police officers because of their race or skin color. My colleagues and opponents in the race for Attorney General need to show that they and their party understand the seriousness of the problem."

Peter Goselin has litigated labor and employment and civil rights cases in Connecticut for more than twenty years. A longtime member of the National Lawyers Guild, Goselin trained and supervised Legal Observers under an NLG program created to monitor police conduct. Goselin announced his candidacy for Connecticut Attorney General at New Haven's May Day Festival, and received the Connecticut Green Party’s endorsement at its convention on May 12, 2018.