Hartford Residents At Hearing Support Plan To Name Site After Giles
By JENNA CARLESSO
April 17, 2012
HARTFORD — Abraham Giles was known for different things during his several decades in the city.
But Monday night his accomplishments were the center of discussion as dozens of supporters urged city council members to approve a proposal naming a North End street corner after the former politician.
Giles, an eight-term state representative, died last year at age 84. Over the years, he was in and out of the news for varying reasons. Some remember Giles as a man who cared deeply for the community. Others recall his involvement in the corruption scandal that ensnared former Mayor Eddie Perez. Giles pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors in 2010, but did not receive jail time.
City Councilwoman Cynthia Jennings has proposed naming the corner of Main and Windsor streets after Giles.
During a public hearing Monday, Councilman Raul DeJesus Jr. asked a crowded room at city hall who would be in favor of the proposal. Nearly everyone in the room stood up.
City resident Trude Mero said council members should look at all of Giles' contributions when voting on the matter, not just his criminal conviction.
"Please consider the totality of his life, instead of just one incident in his life," she said. "It was a misdemeanor folks; it was not a felony."
Evelyn Richardson credited Giles for her interest in politics and in wanting to make change in the community.
"When I started voting, I could certainly say that was because of Abe Giles," Richardson said. "It was this man that incited something in me. He allowed me to realize what I could do in my community."
Sean Arena, another resident and former chairman of the city's Democratic town committee, called Giles a mentor and recalled his concern for the city's impoverished.
"If people needed furniture, he'd find them furniture. If people needed groceries, he'd get them groceries," he said. "This man only knew how to give and he gave and gave and gave."
He urged council members to think about others who've been commemorated with memorials.
"You look all over the country at monuments given to other people — [Thomas] Jeffersonand [George] Washington," he said. "Both of these men — our founding fathers — owned slaves."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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