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Protestors: All lives can’t matter until Black lives matter

Black Lives Matter protestors block traffic, Sunday on East Avenue. (Harold F. Cobin)

NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk streets were shut down Sunday by a small group of Black Lives Matter supporters, chanting, “You will hear us” and “it’s not over.”

Chantel Williams, a Bridgeport resident, said she organized the protest “so people would know that the fight is not over and that we have to keep going.”

“I have been a part of the Black Lives Matter protests that started happening back in April after George Floyd (died in Minneapolis). I felt like there was a need to do some more because it kind of died out,” she said, Monday. “And I felt as though people thought that the issue went away when it happened. So I felt there was a need to do one in Norwalk with the recent events and everything.”

“Recent events” include Norwalk Police apprehending a Norwalk senior in what Williams described as a case of mistaken identity, handcuffing the woman and then not being able to immediately produce a key to unlock the cuffs, Williams said. Norwalk Police Chief Thomas Kulhawik confirmed the account, said he met with the woman Monday and apologized for her trouble.

The protestors started at the Norwalk Police station Sunday, crossed the Stroffolino Bridge and made their way to City Hall, where they blocked traffic for about an hour.

“I think that we served the purpose …to cause some disruption. We shut down many of the busy streets in Norwalk. And I know some people might look at that as a bad thing, but I think that’s a necessary disruption for people to see the message,” said Jalin Sead, a Norwalk activist who participated in the event.

“I think it really well, I thought we made an impact in the communities,” Williams said.

 

Social justice movement

It’s been nearly three months since the last Black Lives Matter protest in Norwalk. Since then, the social justice movement inspired by Floyd’s cries of “I can’t breathe” has been marked nationally by ongoing protests in Portland, Oregon, and complaints about businesses being looted.

A sign on a Connecticut Avenue utility pole, in June.

The latest national flashpoint has been the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis., followed by the arrest of a white teenager, Kyle Rittenhouse, who is accused of killing two protestors.

Blake, 29, was shot in the back seven times as Kenosha Police attempted to arrest him, after he walked away and tried to enter his SUV with his three children in the backseat, news reports say.

The incident is a “prime example” of disparate treatment, Williams said Monday, given that Blake was shot but Rittenhouse walked away freely and is alive and well.

Blake is reportedly paralyzed.

“The black man was innocent, just trying to actually be peaceful and break up a fight that was in his community,” Williams said.

Blake’s lawyer, Benjamin Crump, said Blake had gone out to break up a fight. Kenosha Police say they were executing a warrant for Blake’s arrest on a sexual assault charge.

“Rittenhouse was able to leave the shooting scene still armed because he walked toward officers with his hands up, Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskin said during a media briefing on Friday,” CNN reports.

Williams said she hasn’t been the victim of police brutality, personally.

“But I think any incident that involves my people, it affects me,” she said. “So being a witness to some of the events that happen and then also hearing it from people that are close to me, seeing it on social media, I take it personally and anytime I see somebody with my skin tone, my complexion, that looks like me, having to go through this on a repeated basis. And I know for myself, it could be me at any moment in time. So I’d rather fight now then to wait until it is me or to wait like, you know, until a situation happens to me personally. ….It has happened to have a strong impact on me now so I am fighting now for those that can’t fight, and for the future.”

 

All Lives Matter?

Both Williams and Sead said they’ve heard people say, “All Lives Matter” in response to “Black Lives Matter.”

Jalin Sead speaks at Sunday’s rally on East Avenue. (Harold F. Cobin)

“People of all races, in all different backgrounds say it to me, I get what they’re saying. Because what they’re saying is how it should be and then their perspective, and the way that they see it,” said Sead, who is seeking to unseat Brenda Penn-Williams as president of the Norwalk NAACP.

“They’re not really saying that Black lives matter any less,” he continued. “But they’re just saying that all lives matter. They matter equally. And I get that, but it’s just in America, it just hasn’t been shown that way, that all lives matter equally. The way that we’ve been cheated by the police, the way that we’re treated, like in the school systems – I know Norwalk has been little bit better, but the way that African American students are given suspensions at a higher rate than like white students or other students it is showing that … it’s disproportionate in all the bad things.”

Black people are over represented in prisons and as victims, and “we’re underrepresented in all those things that we want to be represented in, all of the good things, like politics and things like that,” he said.

“I think that that’s the message that we’re sending, and I do understand when people say all lives matter, I don’t write them off as bad people,” Sead said. “I just think that they’re not understanding our point of view, and how we feel marginalized and pretty much let down by the American dream.”

“We’re not disputing that of course all life matters but at this moment, Black lives matter and all lives can’t matter until Black lives matter,” Williams said. “So for those people saying all lives matter, they’re basically trying to defer from the issue and saying that ‘everything is okay.’ If all lives matter then Black people should be a part of that as well, and we should be treated equally fair, when in fact we’re constantly the ones being killed at the hands of the police.”

It happens to Black people on a daily basis, she said.

“You can’t turn away from it. You can’t try to turn a blind eye to it. You have to realize what’s going on. And change has to happen, so all lives matter. Black Lives Matter,” she said.

 

Mistaken identity?

Williams said she organized the event with a cousin in Massachusetts and also a “young lady whose grandmother was directly affected by the Norwalk police station.”

Norwalk Police learned of the planned protest through social media, Norwalk Police Chief Thomas Kulhawik said. (Harold F. Cobin)

The 65-year-old grandmother was coming home from work in a taxi and Norwalk Police stopped her, Williams said. “They handcuffed her, and then they found out that that wasn’t her. They basically said like, ‘Oh, we’re sorry’ … but the grandma was already traumatized at that point. She was still handcuffed because the officer did not have this key to unlock the handcuffs.”

Kulhawik explained:

“We did have a woman report that she was handcuffed when officers believed she may be a suspect.

“Last week we had a stabbing and the suspect’s name and description. The name was accurate but the description was not.  As officers searched for the suspect immediately following the incident, it was believed she could have taken a cab to South Norwalk. Officers observed a female generally fitting the description exiting a cab and briefly detained her. Due to a similar name and somewhat of a language barrier they initially thought it may be her, they fairly quickly determined it was not the suspect, however, the officer realized he did not have his handcuff key, and they had to wait momentarily for a second officer to respond to remove the handcuffs.  The officer apologized and she went on her way.

“As a result of her complaint, I reviewed the incident and met with her this morning to discuss it personally with her and explain in detail what occurred. She came along with two others that she brought with her and we discussed the incident in detail.  I also apologized for what occurred and discussed the timing of the events, the unfortunate coincidences involved and why things progressed as they did.  She appeared satisfied although obviously, she was relayed that she was upset that she was mistaken for the suspect which is understandable.”

 

Kulhawik would not name the officer on Tuesday. He did not violate any policies and will not face discipline, he said.

 

Carrying on the movement

Protestors rally, Sunday on East Avenue. (Harold F. Cobin)

Williams has “never been involved in activism or anything here in Norwalk. She did it because she thought that it was something that she needed to do,” Sead said.

“You do lose some momentum” in a movement, after the initial event that sparks it, Sead said. But Williams action “shows that there’s still people out there that want to do it.”

The violence that’s out there nationwide in protests “definitely does damage the movement in the sense that it does turn some people off, especially people who are really in it for the right reasons, but they don’t want to be a part of the looting and they also don’t want to put themselves in danger,” Sead said.

Sead doesn’t think it will help President Donald Trump win reelection because his voters “already believe what Trump is saying and kind of looking for anything to discredit the protest,” he said.

“One thing that this movement has brought is more awareness,” Williams said. “So the issues have been happening for years, but there’s more of awareness, people are starting to wake up more, a lot more people have joined the movement that were previously not a part of the movement. So I feel like that’s a good thing. So as far as policies and stuff, there’s a lot that needs to get done … it’s a work in progress is not going to happen overnight. Just gotta keep going.”

She said, “We’re going to continue to plan more and do more throughout Connecticut, we want to really reach out to each and every state so we can keep up the fight and keep going and just serve the community. Keep the protests going, and then, so be expecting more.”

Updated 9:38 p.m.: More information.

19 comments

Sam Tyler September 1, 2020 at 6:47 am

This is saying that it is ok to disrupt everyone’s life to promote Black Lives Matter. Meanwhile, discrimination against Jewish people, such as what happened in the fire dept., is swept under the rug. The words say that they do not promote violence and looting, but it seems to go hand in hand. Protest with your vote in November, not by hurting other innocent people.

Seve September 1, 2020 at 3:42 pm

BLM is clearly a political movement. It’s about cultural Marxism. Don’t think so? Watch how they are attempting to control the minds of young grammar school students by surreptitiously inserting their Marxist BS agenda into curriculums around the country:

https://youtu.be/aJZNjRBHVNY

These documents were leaked by concerned teachers…

…and Kyle Rittenhouse was defending himself from being murdered–just watch the videos.

Ron Morris September 1, 2020 at 5:01 pm

All lives cannot matter if black lives do not matter. Police need to STOP targeting people of color. In this very article we see how the police make a “mistake”
“Kulhawik explained:

“We did have a woman report that she was handcuffed when officers believed she may be a suspect.” ” ‘Oh, we’re sorry’ . Well that doesn’t fly. What is the officers name? Why is this yet another cop that did wrong that has name kept secret. How can you trust the Norwalk Police Department when they do not tell us what cops have done wrong. Hopefully NON will get a freedom of information request and publish the cops names. Is the cop still working? He should be fired.

Dana Pevsner September 1, 2020 at 5:45 pm

I am happy to see Black Lives Matter activists and protesters in Norwalk. The US President is a thuggish racist fomenting violence against constitutional protesters. We must not let the demagogue in the White House further trample on our constitutional rights. Thank you, Black Lives Matter activists!

Harold Cobin September 1, 2020 at 7:12 pm

In the case of the woman stopped as a suspect, the only apparent mistake officers made was not having a handcuff key available. Otherwise, every indication is this was a legitimate stop based on a limited description of a felony suspect. The only targeting involved was a vigorous attempt to locate a woman who had just stabbed two people. An arrest was made later the same day.

Mitch Adis September 1, 2020 at 8:49 pm

If the Black community feels so strongly that Black lives matter, why don’t they do something about violence in their community. Shootings in Stamford yet the Black community will not cooperate with law enforcement to help get dangerous people off the streets. Makes zero sense…

Tysen Canevari September 1, 2020 at 9:33 pm

What a joke that was on Sunday. If you like to protest then do it on the lawn. Standing in the middle of a major intersection does nothing but aggravate people and waste the time of the police officers on duty. Based on the attendance of the participants not many people were supporting your demonstration.

Ron Morris September 1, 2020 at 10:37 pm

Harold Cobin They stooped and handcuffed the wrong person. That is a bit more than not having a key. I bet if she were white from West norwalk this would have not happened.
Mitch Adis This is not about community black on black crime. This is about government aka the police shooting people of color at will. But hey nice try at spin.

Mitch Adis September 2, 2020 at 6:51 am

@Ron you are missing the actual problem. This is about saving lives that are taken by illegal activity. It is a fact that you are more likely to be killed by a criminal on the street than killed by a Police officer. Solve the main problem and the others go away. If communities did not tolerate illegal activity in their neighborhood, the need for law enforcement is reduced. If someone was shot in my neighborhood and I had information, you wouldn’t be able to shut me up!

I have a scenario for you, be honest for a minute. You are walking on Woodward Ave at night. Let me know who you’d be more comfortable to see walking behind you – A stranger or a Police Officer.

Good thing is no matter what you say about the Police, if you call they will come. No matter who you are.

Jo September 2, 2020 at 7:45 am

So disappointing – no, infuriating- to hear about the handcuffing of this innocent grandmother. Ron Morris puts it perfectly: If this had happened to a white woman from West Norwalk, there would be outrage, and more accountability expected of the PD. Instead, the default is protect the cop.

Curious September 2, 2020 at 8:14 am

Ron Morris

If it were true that police are shooting black people at Will I would be right there with you. But the facts are that this is clearly not the case. So I’m not there with you. You may want to pull yourself out of the legacy media bubble. Try to listen to anything prominent black leaders are saying such as Thomas Sowell or Larry Elder or Candace Owens to name a few. You won’t find them on CNN or MSNBC, you have lo search The web for them since their message to the black community is about empowerment, not manipulation. To “Uncle Tom” for you. Try Denzel Washington or Morgan Freeman or Senator Tim Scott.

Educate yourself. Don’t let the legacy media educate you by spinning/limiting what you hear.

Ex-norwalker September 2, 2020 at 10:42 am

Oh please Ron Morris. He should be fired for doing his job. That’s the problem here. Who would want to be a police officer when you can’t even do your job. An apology isn’t enough? Would money be better? Enough with these protestors on our streets scaring people. I think everyone has gotten the message by now and more protesting is not the answer. At least do it on the green and not blocking our streets.

Norwalk Parent September 2, 2020 at 3:18 pm

There is no such thing as systemic racism in policing check the fed statistics and George Floyd was a criminal

Ron Morris September 2, 2020 at 10:27 pm

Most police seem to be racists’. For those defending the police you need to look deep within yourself. Stop buying into the police union spin that they are there to protect you . The truth is they are these for a six figure paycheck and the harass innocent people especially people of color. Heck the NPD even assaulted Ct state Senator Bob Duff.

Ex-norwalker Handcuffing a 65 year old women who did nothing wrong is not doing your job and no an apology isn’t enough

Mitch Adis If I were a person of color i be more comfortable with a stranger walking behind than a cop as I would have less chance of getting shot. However I am white so I would be treated different by the racist cops.

Curious Thomas Sowell , Larry Elder , Candace Owens, Denzel Washington , Morgan Freeman and Senator Tim Scott are all far right wing extremist’s. You may want to take you own advise and Educate yourself

Norwalk Parent September 3, 2020 at 4:21 am

Ron Morris what evidence do you have NPD is racist? Show us proof. If they do anything bad at all it cant even come close to the cities being looted and burned to the ground by the radical left.

Ex-norwalker September 3, 2020 at 9:35 am

Ron Morris you must have been in trouble with the Norwalk Police to believe they are racist. I’ve lived in Norwalk my
whole life and personally know many police officers. They are not racism and how dare you lump them all into that category. Stay out of trouble and nothing will happen. What don’t people get??

Ex-norwalker September 3, 2020 at 9:36 am

Ron Morris again what do you want from the police about the woman being handcuffed by mistaken identity? Money I assume will fix everything?

Marc Alan September 3, 2020 at 8:38 pm

At least Ron Morris is willing to stand by his opinion posting his real name. Its just my own opinion, but it’s hard to take anyone seriously that won’t do the same. That said, all lives cannot matter unless Black Lives Matter, so that’s where I stand. Have a nice day.

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