Correction: This story has been corrected to indicate that Democratic Mayoral Candidate Matt Miklave only called upon Democratic Town Committee Chairwoman Amanda Brown to resign her post in the wake of the scuffle in the City Hall parking lot.
NORWALK, Conn. – The American justice system is built on the cornerstone of “innocent until proven guilty.”
Accusations are investigated and dropped every day. Incidents reported to police or in the media are invariably described differently by the parties involved. If there is hard evidence – an unedited recording, an unaligned witness – the true story will often emerge. But when the only real witnesses are those involved, no one else can really know what happened.
The brawl at City Hall happened quickly, without any substantial witnesses. Someone heard a commotion, saw someone punch another person and called the police. Then it was over.
Everything else is he-said, she-said.
Still, many Norwalk residents seem to have taken sides based on nothing more than who they prefer to believe. In some cases, it is politically driven.
The four mayoral candidates have split on the incident. Andy Garfunkel called for Democratic Town Committee Chairwoman Amanda Brown and District E Chairman Bill Krummel to resign their positions, and for Regina Krummel to abandon her bid for a nomination to run for the Board of Education. Miklave called for Brown’s resignation.
Vinny Mangiacopra and Harry Rilling took the more cautious – some have said weak – approach, saying everyone should wait for the facts before judging who is right or wrong.
Did Amanda Brown come too close to Regina Krummel and act in an aggressive manner before Krummel pushed her away, or were they having a “discussion?” Did Brown push Krummel to the ground, or did Krummel somehow fall? Did Bill Krummel shout racially-tinged remarks at Brown before slapping her, inspiring her to land a roundhouse right hand to Krummel’s face and eye? Did the Krummels try to prevent Brown from calling police?
Only they know the truth. Rilling knows this better than anyone, being a 41-year cop with 17 years as chief and having a degree in criminal justice. You cannot build a case or assign blame based on he-said, she-said. It’s easy for those without all the details and without a precise knowledge of the law to sit back and make judgments and to say a crime has been committed.
The bottom line here is all four candidates are correct to a degree.
The public needs to stop pretending it knows who did what to whom, and to stop assigning blame to one party or the other.
But those involved have, two weeks before their nominating convention, made themselves the story and, fairly or not, thrown gasoline on the smoldering embers of the party’s reputation for irresponsibility. At any point during the confrontation, any of the participants could have chosen to walk away. None did. All are supposed to be in positions of leadership and respect.
No matter the details, all should step away from their roles or potentials roles in the party.
Remember, too, the actions of a few have no relevance when it comes to whether a Democrat is worthy of election to the mayor’s office. There are plenty of skeletons in closets on both sides of the aisle in Norwalk, and the candidates need to be held accountable for their own behavior, not for the behavior of other members of the party.