Business down since arrest, says restaurant owner
If she hasn't done so already, restaurant owner Marcia Mitchell Davis plans on filing a complaint against a group of Stratford police officers for harassment. The bizarre incident is just the latest of Davis' woes.
Davis is the mother of Titasheen Mitchell, the 15-year-old African American girl that was involved in a controversial dispute with a Caucasian police officer in March. Davis and others at the scene accused the officer of roughing up the girl as he handcuffed and arrested her for interfering with another arrest happening next door to her mother's restaurant.
Though the officer, David Gugliotti, was cleared of all charges following an internal affairs investigation, Mitchell still faces charges of resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer.
Davis said the latest incident involves a group of uniformed police officers coming to her door and telling her to remove the signs advertising specials as well as a planned civil rights rally organized by Councilman Alvin O'Neal, D-2, who happened to witness the girl's arrest.
At the time of Mitchell's arrest, O'Neal went up to Gugliotti and demanded to know why she was being arrested as she was being put into the police car. When Mitchell allegedly tried to break away, a scuffle ensued between O'Neal and Gugliotti, and O'Neal was promptly arrested too. He was charged with interfering with police and breach of the peace.
Due to the mayor's orders, the rally was cancelled (See related story)
Though Davis received a lot of support from the community shortly after the arrest, she says business at her restaurant, "Carribean Delights" located at the corner of Woodend and Main Street, has gone down sharply as people have been staying away. She said half of her customers are afraid of being harassed by the police and others are upset with her for bringing unwanted attention to Stratford's racial problems.
When the officers showed up at her store, O'Neal was again also there, and he promptly started calling town officials about the matter. According to her, the Zoning Office was contacted, and though they told her there is a law against sidewalk signs, it's a matter that's always enforced on a case by case basis through Planning and Zoning, not through the Stratford Police Department.
"They (Planning and Zoning) wanted to know why the Stratford Police Department was doing their job," said Davis. "If signs are not their job, what does that seem like to you?"
She also said one of the officers directed what seemed like a threat at her.
"He told me to remove the signs, or else," she said. "It's not so much him telling me to remove the signs that bothered me, it's the 'or else' part that scared me," she said.
As of press time, no official report exists documenting the incident, but Police Dept. Spokesman Capt. Harvey Maxwell says that's not unusual as police officers go about their daily patrols.
However, the officers were spoken to about the incident as well as reprimanded, he said.
"It's something that shouldn't have happened, especially in light of the ongoing situation," Maxwell said.
©Stratford Bard 2006