May 27, 2005
By MATT BURGARD, Courant Staff Writer
Hartford's legislators announced a 10-point plan Thursday to
combat violence in the city that includes calling for more
funding for jobs for youths and creation of a city juvenile
review board with full state funding.
State Reps. Kenneth Green,
Marie Kirkley-Bey, Art Feltman and Douglas McCrory said to
reduce violence, the city must first address inequities in
the criminal justice, educational and economic systems that
they said are "resulting in an atmosphere of
hopelessness and despair."
The plan included a call for state, local and federal officials
to monitor the ongoing investigations into the fatal shooting
of an 18-year-old Hartford resident on May 7 by Hartford police
officer Robert Lawlor. Jashon Bryant was shot in the back of
the head in his vehicle by Lawlor, who has said through his lawyer
that he thought Bryant was reaching for a gun and that the driver
of the car was putting the car in gear and driving toward Lawlor's
partner, federal agent Dan Prather.
The legislators' plan also calls for adding to the city Civilian
Review Board and the city Firearms Discharge Board of Inquiry.
Other points in the plan are:
Immediately convene a working group of state legislators and
city officials to meet with Hartford residents aged 16 to 29
to develop plans to address their concerns.
Propose and encourage legislation
to address inequities in the criminal justice system that affect
citizens of "certain
economic and racial backgrounds."
Support and encourage passage of anti-gun legislation.
Support the creation of a city Young Adult Commission for residents
aged 15 to 25 to examine the needs of that population.
"Our young people are trying to figure out what the American
dream is because it doesn't seem to apply to them," said
Though the legislators said
in a press release that "violence
has reached record levels" in Hartford, city officials have
repeatedly pointed out that the number of serious crimes is lower
this year to date, compared with 2004, in all categories but
homicide. There have been 10 homicides, compared with six reported
from January to mid-May last year.
Seven of the homicide victims, however, have been 23 years old
or younger, raising concerns about violence among and against
youths in the city.
According to Hartford police statistics, there have been 57
shooting incidents, with 64 shooting victims, reported between
Jan. 1 and May 14 of this year - a significant increase from
this time last year.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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