HARTFORD, CT — Gov. Ned Lamont said he disagrees with President Donald Trump’s approach to the protests surrounding George Floyd’s death.
Lamont, who was on a call with Trump earlier in the day, said mobilizing the military to quell the protests “pours gasoline on the flames” and is “just the wrong thing to do.”
“I like the way our police are working with the community, working with the protest leaders,” Lamont said.
Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection Commissioner James Rovella said he was also on the call with Trump and was “very surprised of the forcefulness and the words he used, but that’s not the Connecticut way.”
Later in a Rose Garden press conference with the sounds of tear gas and rubber bullets fired in the background, Trump said “Today, I have strongly recommended to every governor to deploy the National Guard in sufficient numbers that we dominate the streets. Mayors and governors must establish an overwhelming presence until the violence is quelled.”
“If a city or state refuses to take the actions necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them,” Trump said.
Rovella, who was police chief in Hartford for six years, said they want to hear the grievances of the community and “assist you when you protest.”
He said they want to hear the grievances “even if you’re grieving us.”
When protesters shut down I-84 in Hartford later in the evening, a state trooper took a knee and the protesters erupted in cheers.
State police said in a tweet that the protesters cleared the highway around 6:30 p.m. and it was reopened.
“We hope that the violence or the looting doesn’t occur here that has occurred elsewhere,” Rovella said.
He cautioned against using the highway as a place to protest for safety reasons prior to the Hartford protesters taking over both directions of I-84.
“But we respect your right to protest,” Rovella said.
The protest lasted less than two hours.
Earlier in the day, state police issued a statement condemning the actions by officers that lead to the murder of George Floyd.
“We’re disgusted that anyone wearing a police uniform would do what we all saw in that video,” the statement read. “We’re angry that the actions of a few will affect all of us. If you wear a badge and aren’t appalled by what you saw, please turn it in and find a new profession; we don’t need you. For the sake of the community, for the sake of good law enforcement officers everywhere and for the sake of our country, enough is enough.”
Lamont didn’t have any specific suggestions for how to improve police accountability.
He talked about how he wanted to improve the diversity of law enforcement and the courts, a recommendation by the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus.