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

Protests errupted around the country and in other countries over the death of George Floyd

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker said Monday morning that he wants to work with the community to help address racism. This comes following the protests around the country, and in New Haven, over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Floyd was seen on camera pinned down to the ground by Officer Derek Chauvin's knee and was heard stating that he couldn’t breathe for several minutes before dying. 

The New Haven protests started Sunday in the morning and carried on until 11 p.m. Protestors had shut down part of the merge of I-95, I-91, and the Oak Street Connector. Highway traffic was blocked until about 2:45 p.m. 

In speaking with FOX61 News Monday morning, Mayor Elicker said that police did have to use mace as some protestors 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 protestors were non-violent and no arrests were made. 

While there were no violent clashes between protestors 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.

RELATED: Protests around Connecticut | New Haven mayor talks with protestors; arrests made in Waterbury

According to Elicker, protestors had arrived at his house Saturday. He went out to speak with them but said he was “drowned out”. He attempted again Sunday night, also putting out a 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. 

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.

RELATED: Hamden protesters demand the firing of Devin Eaton

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.

RELATED: Judge blocks civil hearing over Hamden officer’s potential firing

The death of George Floyd prompted protests all over the country, some more destructive than others. Minnesota officials said that “outside agitators” have embedded themselves into these protests and started to do damage to the city. 

Back in Connecticut, arrests were made during a protest in Waterbury over the weekend. That protest as well shut down part of the highway. 

Mayor Elicker said that the next step is to continue working with the community. He stated that the challenge is that these groups of thousands of people have different ways of wanting to approach solutions. 

Derek Chauvin has been charged with manslaughter and third-degree murder in the death of George Floyd.