NAACP breaks Norwalk silence regarding racial protests

From left, Norwalk Branch NAACP President Darnell Crosland, State Rep. Bruce Morris (D-140) and the Rev. Lindsay Curtis lead a Tuesday press conference to release a statement urging a non-violent civil protest of police brutality.

NORWALK, Conn. – The silence from Norwalk minority community leaders ended Tuesday with a statement from the Norwalk branch NAACP, expressing “heartfelt condolences” to the families of two slain New York City police officers and emphasizing that recent protests are a fight against police brutality, not against police officers.

Norwalk Branch NAACP President Darnell Crosland, State Rep. Bruce Morris (D-140), the Rev. Lindsay Curtis, Norwalk Fire Chief Denis McCarthy and NAACP members Daisy Franklin, Darlene Young, Larry Johnson, Bobby Burgess, Jackie Steiner and Carol Ward met with the press at the entrance to City Hall to make their declaration. Crosland said Mayor Harry Rilling was expected but couldn’t make it, and that Norwalk Police Chief Thomas Kulhawik is on vacation but expressed support for the effort.

“Civil rights was won in a nonviolent process. As president of the Norwalk branch NAACP, I urge all of you to remember this fact,” Crosland said. “… We do not, we will not stand idly by and condone police brutality, but we will not, I repeat, we will not respond to it in a violent and uncivilized manner.”

Morris said the NAACP had planned to put out “a proactive statement” to address the nationwide turmoil inspired in part by the deaths of black men in Ferguson, Mo. and Staten Island during encounters with police, but that will wait until after New Year’s Day because of the fatal ambush of NYPD officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu. This is in response to a request from NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio for a quiet period without protests until after their funerals.

Rilling met with community leaders in early December to discuss the tension as protests swept the country. Kulhawik said a joint statement would be released the next week, but no statement has been forthcoming.

Two members of Norwalk’s African American community on Sunday said such a statement would be helpful.

“I think it would have been a good thing,” Anita Osborne said. “I think more people would be aware.”

“I think it could show they care. The flip side is it looks like they don’t care about anyone,” Erika Foster said.

Curtis and Crosland were part of the discussion at the meeting.

“We want to put out an intelligent statement,” Curtis said. “We want to make sure we could come and find areas of, not necessarily commonality, but areas of negotiation. We just didn’t want to ‘throw something out there.’ There are things that our community wants. There are things that I am not sure that the city can live with. So before we come out and it looks like it’s confusion, we want to come out in a unified stance, as best as we can. We may not be able to do that, but that’s what negotiations are all about.”

“After we met with the mayor’s office, we felt it was necessary to meet with the African-American community and tell them what’s going and hear their voices,” Crosland said. “We did that in two different meetings.”

The resultant statement includes a list of things the NAACP would like to see, including a citizens review board, he said.

“Now where we are is we’re setting up a meeting with mayor again and sharing with him the view of our independent meeting and see if together we can come up with a joint statement. So the mayor is just kind of waiting on us to get back to him and tell him what we found out,” Crosland said.

Curtis said it’s a matter of negotiations between policing and community relations.

“It’s neither all one way or the other,” Curtis said. “There’s a little bit of give and take on both ends. So that’s the negotiations we’re trying to come out with. This is not Ferguson. What we are trying to do is set up an environment so it will never be Ferguson.”

Both Curtis and Morris led prayers during the press conference. Morris said, “The words that we speak to almighty God likely will have more impact than the words we say about each other, until at least we find common ground how to interact with each other.”


8 responses to “NAACP breaks Norwalk silence regarding racial protests”

  1. Rod Lopez-Fabrega

    This is really excellent! Kudos to the Norwalk NAACP. It appears that they have been listening to moderate comments pointing out that we are all in this together.

    Thanks to NON for giving this development prime space. One can only hope that it gets the widest exposure. Let’s also hope that those members of the BOE that have been singled out as obstructionists also get the NAACP message.

  2. piberman

    Attorney Crossland seems to have forgotten that Dr. King’s powerful message was the universality of “non-violence” for everyone, not particular groups. Norwalk’s PD are especially important to the community Mr. Crosland claims to represent since most Norwalk crime affects affects that community. Its the lives of the Norwalk PD that are on the line day in day out protecting that community and the rest of Norwalk from violence. Our Police officers deserve our continued appreciation and respect, not “demands for reform”. When and if issues arise there are appropriate venues for remediation, not on the steps of City Hal calling press conferences.
    Mr. Crosland would do well to focus his attention on the real issues facing our African community: reducing crime, removing the circulation of illegal guns, encouraging more parent involvement with our public schools, encouraging youngsters to attend college, quality of family life and so on.
    There’s much positive work for the NAACP to help realize the American Dream. But it won’t get done on the steps of City Hall holding press conferences.
    It took Mr. Crosland a few days to get in step with the rest of Norwalk on expressing remorse for the wanton killing of Police Officers. Lets hope its a learning experience for Mr. Crossland and his stated ambitions to become the City’s mayor. We are a community first and foremost.

  3. WOW just WOW

    You are way off base when you say

    Our Police officers deserve our continued appreciation and respect, not “demands for reform”.

    We have had way to many citizens abused by police in Norwalk in recent years. Some of these actually caught on video and the chief has failed the citizenry by keeping these officers on the job. This seems to have gotten much worse since our police department is now a bunch of children from out of town.. Also let us not forget our chief doesn’t even live in Norwalk.

    Just last week an officer prevented a citizen from recording an incident. The supreme court has ruled time and again that a citizen has the right to record police. Has this officer that violated a citizens rights been fired??? NO

  4. Things that makes u go hmmmm

    Why are they coming out now? Where were they when this was talked about months ago, actually years ago. The same individuals are at all the tables so they know what’s going on. They are not helping anyone but themselves.

  5. Jimmie

    This comment was disallowed because of our policy against personal attacks and potentially libelous accusations.

  6. Piberman

    We live in a society where claims of police abuse can be adjudicated for review. Not resolved by claims in the newspaper. i have no doubts that the overwhelming numbers of City residents hold our Police in high esteem. That’s been my observation over 3 decades. And I have on numerous times publicly complimented our former police chief together with the current chief as well. I can recall very few objections to such views.

  7. Scott

    WJW the job of police officer is the only job that I don’t have a problem with living out of town. I know an officer that I went to high school with here in Norwalk that did live in town and started to raise his family here bit due to the nature of his job and the people he was arresting he moved from Norwalk out of fear for hos family’s safety. So I can’t begrudge an officer but the chief of police and heads of city departments I couldn’t agree more

  8. All Of Us

    These public prayer sessions exclude others of differing faiths and no faith. Can we not be supportive of this issue on behalf of everyone?

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