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NAACP oppose red light and speeding camera legislation

Some people believe the cameras will be effective in promoting traffic safety, but the NAACP believed it will lead to racial profiling.

HARTFORD, Conn. — The Vision Zero bill has been a hot topic at the State Capitol lately. It is a piece of legislation aimed at making Connecticut's roads safer. 

One of the biggest components of the bill included installing red lights and speeding cameras in high-risk areas like schools and pedestrian safety zones.

For high-traffic cities like Hartford, drivers are often running into busy intersections, but too many times, the colors of the traffic lights and speed limit signs are ignored which then cause a number of tragic incidents. 

Hyacinth Yennie, a Hartford neighborhood activist is often a victim of a close call. 

"I stop at a light and there’s somebody running right in front of me to get to the other side," said Yennie of Hartford. 

After a five-hour debate Tuesday night, the State House passed the Vision Zero bill 104-46 and is now headed to the Senate. 

Towns and cities will have the choice to implement the cameras if they wish to participate in the three-year traffic enforcement program. 

Those interested will have to submit plans to the Department of Transportation and municipalities reassured black and brown communities would not be targeted. 

"Like me, all of our legislature deeply care about making sure that there is equitable treatment in our community, making sure there’s no disproportionate impact on brown and black people," said New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker. 

The NAACP issued a lengthy statement Thursday opposing the cameras and they said in part: 

"Studies have shown that these systems disproportionately affect minority communities, leading to a potential increase in traffic stops, citations and fines."

The association expressed concerns the cameras would be placed in predominately black or brown communities. 

"It’s a marginalized community. Those are the communities that are hurting most that always pay the price for situations that goes on state-wide and nationally," said Corrie Betts, president of the Hartford NAACP branch. 

Betts said there are other ways to enforce traffic safety in the state. 

"Change the infrastructure. Go to where best practices have been in other states where they’ve done different things instead of red light cameras," added Betts. 

However, Yennie who is part of Hartford's black and brown community herself disagreed with the NAACP. 

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"We need to stop talking about black and brown people – people in general run lights!" added Yennie. 

The cameras would take a picture of the offending car and license plate and municipalities emphasized for the sake of privacy, the cameras will not capture any faces. 

"Officers are subjective and we try to train our officers to make sure that they’re not pulling over people based on their own subliminal biases. Cameras are not subjective," added Mayor Elicker. 

In terms of the penalties, drivers would receive a warning first. If they break the law for a second time, they will receive a $50 fine and then $75 for additional violations. 

Carmen Chau is an anchor and reporter at FOX61 News. She can be reached at cchau@fox61.com. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.


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