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Justice for Titasheen Mitchell Police Brutality!: Anti-racism rally canceled, then relaunched

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Anti-racism rally canceled, then relaunched

Anti-racism rally canceled, then relaunched
Anti-racism rally canceled, then relaunched - story by Kent Pierce

(Stratford-WTNH, July 13, 2006 6:00 PM) _ A rally to unite one local community that was canceled in the morning was back on again by the afternoon. The rally against racism and police brutality had been called off because of concerns about who might show up.

by News Channel 8's Kent Pierce
The concern was white supremacists would show up and hijack the event. At a press conference this morning the rally was called off. But Thursday evening News Channel 8 found out it's back on. A local pastor is organizing it, not the city councilman whose arrest started the whole thing.

"We're going to have a panel of individuals sit down and listen to all the complaints that the entire Stratford have that relates to, you know, the racism and the injustice," Councilman Alvin O'Neal, (D) Stratford, said.

A panel instead of a rally. That's the plan from the city councilman who says he witnessed and became a victim of abuse at the hands of a white police officer.

And the reason he will not be holding a rally in front of town hall on Saturday is because white supremacist groups threatened to come, too.

"The news media isn't going to put my five minute speech on when given the opportunity to show a skinhead with a confederate flag, and so our message would get diluted," Mayor James Miron, (D) Stratford, said.

But some want the rally to happen anyway.

"To call it off would mean that it didn't happen," Rev. James Morton of First Baptist Church said. "What has happened did happen."

What happened was, in March, 15 year-old Titasheen Mitchell was arrested and, she says, punched by Officer David Gugliotti, who is white. Councilman Alvin O'Neal says he saw the abuse and was arrested and also punched when he tried to step in.

An internal police investigation cleared Officer Gugliotti of any wrongdoing and a police spokesman stresses that the Stratford Police Department is racially diverse. But, the parents of Titasheen Mitchell say they are now being harassed by police.

Signs in front of the family's restaurant were taken by police. The mayor calls that "improper." He's planning sensitivity training for police and putting cameras in patrol cars. A group of ministers says that's good, but a rally is still needed.

"The things that Alvin - that happened to Alvin - have happened to members of this community over and over again," Rev. Morton said.

"If the thing that happened with the black girl - they got overly forced with her or whatever - if that had happened to a white person, nothing would have happened," says a woman named Sarah who says she is part of the white supremacist community.

That's the sentiment organizers don't want at a rally.

"What do you think, would there be groups like the White Wolves out there on Saturday if this rally happens?"
"Possibility, I'm not sure," Sarah said.

Right now the rally is on. Pastor Johnny Gamble is in charge and he says the mayor will be one of the speakers.


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