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New Haven clergy speak on policing in the city

Mayor Elicker said the city is going to take concrete action to bring about change.

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Clergy members in New Haven addressing policing in black communities Tuesday morning.

Over the last few days, hundreds took to the streets of New Haven, protesting not only the death of George Floyd but other issues including racism and police brutality.

New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker said Monday morning that he wants to work with the community to help address racism.

In speaking with FOX61 News Monday morning, Mayor Elicker said that police did have to use mace as some protesters attempted to get into the police building. But, he went on to say, that it was the only incident during the day that required such action and that protesters were non-violent and no arrests were made.

RELATED: New Haven Mayor Elicker wants to work with community to address racism

While there were no violent clashes between protesters or police, New Haven police did report an arson at one of their stations. According to police, the Newhallville substation on Winchester Avenue was damaged by a Molotov cocktail around 2 a.m.

Mayor Elicker statement saying he wants to work with protestors and the community to address racism in the city and state.

Today New Haven has experienced more than a thousand protesters deeply frustrated by the killing of George Floyd and police brutality. People are understandably angry and want action. I do, too. ...[T]he protest has been mostly peaceful, and the New Haven Police Department has shown great restraint.... 

Chief Reyes and I have been abundantly clear about our expectations, that our officers work with compassion, that our officers don’t over-police our neighborhoods, that our officers embody the spirit of real community policing. We’ve also been clear that if there is any complaint of misconduct, we will investigate and hold any officers accountable. 

I also stand ready to talk collaboratively with the protesters and the community at large to better understand, to listen and to begin to address racism. I hope you stand ready, too. 

But we must have these conversations respectfully, collaboratively, and peacefully. Otherwise, we can’t be successful. I urge New Haven residents with all my heart to be open to these conversations and to protest but do it peacefully. We will get through this very challenging time.

One of the questions asked on FOX61 Morning News was regarding "triple occupation: of Yale, New Haven, and Hamden police all in the city. Last year, two people were shot by a Hamden officer in New Haven.

RELATED: Hamden PD recommendation: Officer in New Haven shooting incident should be fired

Hamden police were investigating a report of a possible armed robbery at a gas station. While investigating, police found a car suspected to be involved on Argyle Street and Dixwell Avenue over the town line in New Haven. Paul Witherspoon III, 21, and his girlfriend, Stephanie Washington, 22, were in the car.

Hamden Officer Devin Eaton and Yale University Terrance Pollock, confronted the suspects of the car. A total of 16 shots were fired by police. Eaton fired 13 shots and Pollock fired three. Washington was shot and suffered non-life threatening injuries. Witherspoon was not injured.

"The warrant states that a New Haven woman was wounded as a result of the use of force by Eaton involving a motor vehicle stopped on Argyle Street. The driver of the car sustained minor non-gunshot injuries, the warrant states. Neither the driver nor the passenger were charged as a result of the incident, the warrant states," said officials in a press release.

Eaton was since charged with assault and reckless endangerment.

Local Community and City officials held a press conference Monday afternoon to show that they stand united and will not allow those events to overshadow the hundreds who want to be a part of the change in their community.

"We have to act," said New Haven Police Chief Tony Reyes. "It means nothing if we do these press conferences and we made vows if we say we’re going to do something. The community wants us to act and we need to act."

All in attendance stressed the importance of working together to build upon the discussions started by the protests that have brought global awareness to the injustices felt by millions.

RELATED: Protests in New Haven spark "Concrete Action" for change

"Racism is it just in Minneapolis. Racism is everywhere," said New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker. "Everything is not OK nationally and it’s not OK in New Haven either."

Mayor Elicker said the city is going to take concrete action to bring about change. He discussed moving forward with the long-awaited civilian review board, addressing policing jurisdiction issues and community policing

"I care," said Mayor Elicker. "I’m deeply committed to doing the right thing to addressing police brutality and systematic racism and I’m listening,"