Assault On Hartford Youth Worker Is Attack On Decency Itself
Selfless, courageous Carl Hardrick is attacked by wayward adolescents
Hartford Courant Editorial
August 05, 2013
Carl Hardrick, aka Brother Carl, has devoted most his adult life to helping young people in Hartford's most challenged neighborhoods. He's negotiated gang truces, intervened in knife fights, coached basketball, visited the homes of troubled teenagers. Anything to help.
That makes what happened last week all the more frustrating. The 72-year-old Hardrick was walking home Monday night when he was jumped and badly beaten by five or six youths who were attempting to rob him. They ended up stealing his glasses.
It is awful that there are lightly raised adolescents who would assault an older man. It is almost as tragic that they didn't know who he was and what he had to offer them. Didn't anyone ever tell them about "the mayor of the ghetto"?
Mr. Hardrick has been working with city youths for five decades, in every conceivable manner. As a youth coordinator for the South Arsenal Neighborhood Development Corp., he negotiated a peace between gangs from the old Bellevue Square and Stowe Village housing projects and later worked with members of the Latin Kings, Solidos and other gangs. Some are alive today because of his intervention.
Stories of his courage and selfless behavior abound. He once stepped between a knife-wielding man and his intended victim and managed to get everyone out unhurt. A distance runner for many years until his hip gave out, Mr. Hardrick and his good friend and running partner John Brittain, then a UConn law professor, once trained a blind youth to run the New York Marathon.
This man — this gracious, giving man — gets beat up?
Community members rallied for Mr. Hardrick and against violence on Saturday in front of city hall. Mr. Hardrick was there and put his finger on the problem when he said: "Somehow we're not doing what we need to do in this community."
We are sadly reminded of the vicious assault of former Deputy Mayor Nicholas Carbone by a gang and the brutal hit-and-run of Angel Arce Torres five years ago, and how cries to "take back the city" have, apparently, failed.
The answers obviously aren't simple. They range from teen pregnancy prevention to education and jobs. But so what? We need to take them on. Parts of the city have felt lawless this summer, with young men and boys racing around on ATVs and dirt bikes. Perhaps a first step would be to introduce the young people to the older people. They should know who Carl Hardrick is.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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