The Rev. Henry Brown said he was somewhat disappointed with the turnout for Wednesday’s anti-violence march to the state Capitol.
“We should have had more,” Brown said as the crowd of about 20 people, including Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez, dispersed.
He said he feels if they had the numbers, then state lawmakers and public officials would have to listen to their message.
In his opening remarks Brown said he tried to get people from the surrounding suburban and rural communities to join him in standing up to violence across the state.
“It’s not a Hartford problem,” Brown said pointing to the weekend death of an 8-year-old Ashford boy who shot himself in the head with an automatic weapon at a gun fair in Massachusetts. “We need to come together as one.”
Using the tagline for Fox 61 News at 10, Brown said, “It’s 10 o’clock do you know where your children is?” In part of his message about responsible parenting, Brown singled-out a portion of his comments to speak directly to suburbanites: “You better check your children. I know for a fact a lot of your children are in Hartford after 10 o’clock,” he said. But “it’s not your problem. I don’t live in Hartford,” he said explaining what he perceives as the suburban mentality.
And while Brown was grateful Mayor Perez walked with group all the way from Albany Avenue and Main Street to the state Capitol Wednesday, he still wasn’t happy the state’s top elected-official, Gov. M. Jodi Rell, didn’t make an appearance.
“We need our governor to come and say, ‘We do care about what happens in Hartford,’” Brown said. He used Wednesday’s rally as an opportunity to again compare Rell’s reaction to crime in mostly white suburban areas of the state to her reaction of the Hartford parade shootings in August where innocent bystanders, mostly Black children, were shot.
The governor’s office has said she was away during the August shooting incident, but was deeply concerned and trouble by it. Rell’s spokesman Rich Harris has said she was receiving daily updates on the incident while she was out of state. And Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele visited one of the six shooting victims in the hospital.
The Rev. Patrice Smith Gaston spoke prior to Brown.
“We need the governor to come out here and we need her to be participating in the things of Hartford. Hartford needs help,” Gaston said.
However, she also said, “We can’t be worrying about who didn’t show up today or who did show up today. We just have to be here.”
Danielle Rea, president of the group Survivors of Homicide, joined the rally while it was already in progress on the steps of the state Capitol. She said it’s hard to get families that are victims of crimes to come out. She also pointed out that it was the middle of the afternoon, making it hard for people with jobs to join the rally.
“Compared to most victims in the suburbs, homicide survivors in the inner cities have needs that essentially go unaddressed,” Rea said in a statement released prior to Wednesday’s event. “Many survivors fail to receive information about their rights in the criminal justice system, how to exercise their rights, and the availability of support and other victim services.”
The Survivors release also called on the governor and our state legislators to do more to address the crime problem in Connecticut’s cities.
Rea said Survivors of Homicide supports the efforts of Mothers United Against Violence, a group of Hartford family members of homicide victims.