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Connecticut students host panel discussion on police brutality and a path to justice

In honor of Black History Month, Central Connecticut State University's Student Government Association invited esteemed leaders of the community to speak on a panel on police brutality.
Ayannah Brown
Connecticut Public
In honor of Black History Month, Central Connecticut State University's Student Government Association invited community leaders to speak on a panel on police brutality.

Police officers nationwide should be held accountable for acts of brutality. That’s according to a panel discussion at Central Connecticut State University featuring college students, professors and community advocates.

The event stemmed from the killing of Tyre Nichols, said Olanrewaju Olamuyiwa, president of CCSU’s Student Government Association. Nichols died in January after being beaten by Memphis police officers.

“The truth is, one death by the hands of the police is one too many,” said Keren Prescott, the founder and president of Power Up Connecticut.

When police don’t hold each other accountable, Prescott said she can no longer make a distinction between good officers and bad officers.

Accountability is essential, said Stan McCauley, president of the Greater Hartford African American Alliance.

“I would like to hold people accountable if we have police officers who don’t do the job. They should be fired, period. No questions asked,” McCauley said.

Black people are nearly three times more likely to be killed by police than white people in the U.S., according to Mapping Police Violence, a group that collects data about police killings.

A 2021 survey by Pew Research showed that 20% of U.S. adults said they had a great deal of confidence in law enforcement – that’s down from 30% in 2018. White adults are much more likely than Black or Hispanic adults to say they have confidence in the police.

After Nichols’ death, elected officials and police groups across Connecticut issued statements condemning the Memphis officers’ actions. The Connecticut Police Chiefs Association said in a statement: “Professional police officers know that treating every person with dignity, respect, and compassion regardless of their creed, color, gender, ethnicity, or any of the countless ways that people self-identify is fundamental to our role in society.”

Gov. Ned Lamont said that “we must create a more just society for everyone” and that he’s committed to doing that work in Connecticut.

The best way to make change is to unite as a community, Olamuyiwa said.

“I think it’s crucial for students to work with community leaders because as students, we are young professionals, and we are considered the future,” Olamuyiwa said. “It is very crucial for us to learn from the people that are actually doing the work.”

Maricarmen Cajahuaringa is a journalist with extensive experience in Latino communities' politics, social issues, and culture. She founded Boceto Media, a digital Spanish-language newspaper based in Connecticut. Maricarmen holds a Bachelor's in Social Work from Springfield College, and a Master's in Journalism and Media Production from Sacred Heart University. As a reporter for Connecticut Public, she is dedicated to delivering accurate and informative coverage of the Hispanic/Latino population in the region. Maricarmen is an experienced and passionate journalist who strives to bring a voice to the stories of her community.

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