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Hartford's Puerto Rican Day Parade and Festival postponed following police officer's death

A black sash hangs at the Hartford Safety Complex, mourning the death of Hartford Police Department Officer Bobby Garten, September 7, 2023.
Tyler Russell
Connecticut Public
A black sash hangs at the Hartford Safety Complex, mourning the death of Hartford Police Department Officer Bobby Garten, September 7, 2023.

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Hartford's Puerto Rican Day Parade and Festival will be postponed after a police officer was killed in a car crash while on duty.

Organizers said the decision was made to provide police officers and the community the opportunity to grieve the death of Officer Bobby Garten following a collision Wednesday night that left Garten dead and another officer injured.

It wasn't an easy decision to make, according to Samuel Vega, Jr., president of the Connecticut Institute for Community Development-Puerto Rican Parade Committee (CICD), the nonprofit that organizes the parade, which had been set for Sunday.

"We understand that this postponement may cost disappointment to our participants, sponsors, volunteers and the community as a whole," Vega said. "But we believe it is imperative to prioritize the current situation, to allow time for healing and reflection. We believe that this is our responsibility as a community come together, we stand for what is right."

In an interview with Connecticut Public on Friday, Vega noted that the parade is a intensive effort and that sponsors had already contributed $300,000.

“I want to show the community and the police department that, the Puerto Rican community, we do care," Vega said. "We have a heart and we understand what they are going through."

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said the Puerto Rican parade is an important day in the city and a time when the community comes together to celebrate Puerto Rican heritage. But he noted the parade and festival require additional police staffing. Bronin said many officers stood vigil outside St. Francis Hospital through the night and worked Thursday.

"The police department is grateful for the decision you've made," Bronin told members of the CICD. "They've lost a friend, colleague, a family member. The fact that we won't have to call so many officers in [this weekend] means that some of those officers who need the break the most can have it."

Updated: September 8, 2023 at 4:37 PM EDT
This story has been updated.
Matthew Long-Middleton has helped shape Connecticut Public's broadcast and digital reporting, producing and writing since the fall of 2022.
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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