In New Haven, Connecticut, protests have started again in response to the city's handling of a video showing a police officer using force against a 15-year-old girl at the city's St. Patrick's Day Parade. But this time, two sides are protesting- those who support the officer, and those calling for more scrutiny of his actions.
At a city hall press conference Friday, Chief Dean Esserman said Officer Joshua Smereczynsky would be returned to active duty after an internal investigation exonerated him.
New Haven Mayor Toni Harp says an officer seen in a video forcibly arresting a 15-year-old girl would be removed from active duty. The video appears to show the officer slamming the girl onto the street after an altercation during the city’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Protesters say she suffered a fractured shoulder and facial bruises.
“I’m happy,” said organizer Barbara Fair. "I am happy. He is off the street. That’s our first demand that we wanted to happen, and it’s happened.”
The city of New Haven, Connecticut shares a special connection with Freetown, Sierra Leone. The two are sister cities, and they have a shared history dating back to slave ship Amistad. It docked in New Haven in 1839 and marked a turning point in the African American fight against slavery. Now Sierra Leone’s largest city is at the center of the current Ebola epidemic in West Africa.
At St. Luke’s, an African-American Episcopal church in New Haven, Caribbean culture is strong. But Reverend Richard Meadows, Jr., says some of his parishioners are from West Africa.
New Haven began demolishing a fence on Monday that for 50 years separated a public housing complex in the city from the town of Hamden. For some, the fence had become a symbol of racial and economic division between two communities.