Uniting against hate, bigotry and violence

August 17, 2017

In the wake of last weekend’s events in Charlottesville, Virginia, we are left with far too many questions and not enough answers. We wonder how such hate, bigotry and violence can still manifest in our nation. We question how our public discourse and politics at every level of government have become so nasty and divisive. And, we are dumbfounded at the contemptuous response of our president to this shocking event.

As we grapple with these questions and the images that have become ingrained into our minds, there is temptation to view last weekend’s events as dissimilar to our own community experience.

While Connecticut is roughly 450 miles removed from Charlottesville, Virginia, I find myself asking “Could it happen here?” And if so, what can we do to mitigate the effects of such a hateful demonstration?

I believe that by uniting together, we can minimize the chances of hate, bigotry and violence from occurring by taking pride in our state and by educating residents on Connecticut’s hate crime laws.

Few places enjoy the rich diversity of race, heritage, culture, religion, thought and identity as Bridgeport does. Let’s all be reminded to welcome and appreciate that. Let’s commit to trying to venture beyond our normal routine and visit a different shop, restaurant, park or neighborhood afield of our own worn path. And let’s remember that our words, social media posts and actions matter as we interact with our own neighbors and people in our daily lives.

While no legislative action could ever truly prevent the horrifying images we saw this weekend, we can take some solace in the fact that Connecticut now has some of the strongest hate crime laws in the nation.

Under new legislation that we worked on this past session in the Judiciary Committee, punishment for a hate crime was increased from a misdemeanor to a felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison. This law will help deter any similar acts of hate and violence, WNPR reports.

By raising public awareness of this new law as a deterrent to those considering hateful action, we can send the firm message that Connecticut condemns hatred, bigotry and violence in the strongest possible terms.