NEW HAVEN, Conn. — NEW HAVEN - Over a thousand protesters took to New Haven roadways on Sunday protesting long into the night. The overwhelming majority of protesters were peaceful but there were a few unfortunate moments. 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."
The call to action comes after a day of mostly peaceful protesting in the Elm City. Several hundred people blocked off the I-95, I-91 merge and the Oak Street Connector for about 90 minutes. The group then moved to the Police Department Headquarters. They spent the next few hours peacefully protesting on the steps of 1 Union Avenue.
"The overwhelming majority of participants have been peaceful, courageous, responsible and inspiring. They deserve our respect and support not condemnation," said a Reverend in attendance.
Around 6 pm Sunday night, Police say several protesters attempted to forcibly enter the Police Headquarters. A few threw items at the officers. Police in full riot gear resorted to pepper spray to regain control of the line.
"And then we just held the line and it quickly turned peaceful again," said Chief Reyes.
In the early morning hours Monday, New Haven Police say there were attacks on their Hill and Newhallville neighborhood substations with Molotov cocktails. They are investigating the incidents.
"It’s sad that it’s going on in this neighborhood because our police officers here in Newhallville are very respectful to us," said Stephanie Jordan.
"We will not allow these acts to come between the work that we intend to do with our community," said Chief Reyes.
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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.
"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,"
No one was hurt or arrested during the protests.