HARTFORD, Conn. — Connecticut state senators demanded action and change following the recent shootings in Hartford that took the lives of 3-yr-old Randell Jones and 16-yr-old Jamari Preston.
They gathered with community leaders Wednesday at the capital to vocalize their concerns and need for funding to support programs that prevent violence in communities.
“I know my colleagues are committed to it,” said Connecticut State Senator Marilyn Moore. “I’m not going to walk away and say I did not get anything done in this session, with this governor, with this budget that doesn’t make a difference to all of us.”
Senator Moore arranged the press conference to address the gun violence in communities and request funds for the organizations that work to stop it.
“We know that President Biden has put aside $5 million for youth and gun violence prevention programs,” Moore said. “We want to make sure that when that money comes here, it’s not nickel and dime. It’s not a little bit here and a little bit there, but there’s a master plan on how you address that.”
State senators and community organizations said they want Governor Ned Lamont to increase funding statewide for violence prevention programs. This follows the shooting of three people this past week, which resulted in the death of Jones and Preston. Wednesday leaders shared what they see in their own communities and how various programs have created change.
“Some kid told me that they couldn’t even sit down to do their homework in front of their desk, because the minute they picked up the cell phone to go to answer it, a bullet flew through the window where she had been sitting,“ said COMPASS Youth Collaborative, Inc., Chief Executive Officer Jacquelyn Santiago.
Santiago said heroic people in her organization interrupt violence and look for kids lost to poverty.
“They go into the hospitals to comfort, to prevent retaliation from happening on a regular basis on a shoestring budget,” Santiago said.
Leaders said it’s important to identify children in potentially violent home situations at a young age in order to help them and these programs are needed.
“When they are 9 and 10-yrs-old, when they are in our school system, we know who these kids are,” said Connecticut Senator Douglas McCrory. “They are not hard to identify.”
Law enforcement said in fall 2020 there was a 54% increase in shootings incidents in Hartford from the same time in 2019. Leaders said it’s also reflected in Bridgeport and New Haven with the increase of violence and shootings.
“I have a three-year-old grandchild, just as Senator Winfield (State Senator Gary Winfield) has 3-yr-old twin children,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Martin M. Looney. “We were all cut to the heart of what we heard in Hartford just last week, but that is just the newest example of heart-wrenching and heart-crushing things that happen in this state and in our cities every single day.”
Community leaders said they need money to make a change and senators hope to push the effort through before June.
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