Community Leaders React
Leaders of the Catholic and Latino communities reacted today to a U.S. Department of Justice report, which denounced the East Haven Police Department for engaging in a pattern and practice of discrimination against Latinos.
“Two years ago this month, our congregation and others in the community joined together in a vigil recognizing the start of this investigation,” said Father James Manship, a priest at St. Rose of Lima Church. “The Department of Justice’s announcement today vindicates the complaints of racial profiling by Latinos that have devastated our community for years.”
The report found that EHPD intentionally targets Latinos for traffic enforcement and treats Latino drivers more harshly during traffic stops in violation of their constitutional rights. It also finds that Chief Gallo created a hostile and intimidating environment for people trying to cooperate with the DOJ investigation.
“Systemic reforms will be necessary to make sure the police department respects all residents,” said Manship. “During his time as police chief, Gallo failed to take steps to improve the culture of the department. The DOJ’s report makes clear that Chief Gallo is a primary reason for the Department’s failures, although his leadership is not the only problem.”
Mayor Joe Maturo reinstated Chief Gallo this November as one of his first acts as mayor. Gallo was placed on administrative leave by former Mayor April Capone Almon in March 2010 in response to the USDOJ’s investigation of claims of racial profiling and police harassment.
Angel Fernandez, a leader of the St. Rose Pastoral Council, stated: “Neither the Town of East Haven nor the East Haven Police Department has been willing to take any serious steps to curb anti-Latino abuse and harassment. Only a zero-tolerance policy toward harassment of Latinos and an end the intimidation of police officers and community members will address the community’s concerns.”
“The victims of the East Haven Police Department’s intimidation and lawlessness were betrayed by officers they trusted to protect and serve them,” said Kristin Macleod-Ball, a law student intern in the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic at Yale Law School (WIRAC), which is representing the community groups in the DOJ civil rights investigation. “Today’s announcement brings them one step closer to justice.”
Fr. Manship and several members of the Latino community also brought a civil rights lawsuit in October 2010, alleging that the Town of East Haven and the East Haven Police Department failed to properly address a pattern of police harassment and violence against Latinos.