Since Connecticut’s most racially-divisive Republican is now Tom Foley’s running mate, I thought it would informative to educate those not familiar with Danbury to the effect Boughton’s anti-immigrant policies has had on those who live in the city.
This is the first in a series of post on Danbury’s immigration problem. This is a partial repost of a write-up I did for HatCityBLOG back in Dec of 2009
Mayor Boughton, his administration, and the elected officials who are directly responsible for dividing this city among ethnic lines are doing everything in their power to make the general public believe that the topic of xenophobia and anti-immigrant racism is not an issue in Danbury.
As evident by the hate-crime that was committed in the city back in October, the continued taunts and racial slurs directed towards the immigrant community, and the failure of people loyal to Boughton to even acknowledge the fact that racism the persist in the area, Danbury has earned the distinguished honor or being the most racially insensitive city in the state of Connecticut.
From the passage of a so-called noise/volleyball ordinance that was directed towards the Ecuadorian community, the so-called parade ordinance (a proposal designed to squash spontaneous celebrations associated with the World Cup games), to the outlandish claims used by supporters of ICE ACCESS as a rationale for the passage of unnecessary program, for years, members of the Common Council have mirrored the mayor’s rhetoric and carried out his anti-immigrant agenda.
Just like Boughton, when forced to address the racial divisiveness in Greater Danbury, these council members who are loyal to Boughton turn a blind eye to the matter…and in some cases refuse to acknowledge that the problem exists in the city at all.
Case in point, here’s a very telling video clip from the Common Council at-large forum from last October. Here’s the text of the first question:
The issue of immigration has been very divisive for our community. How would you change the tone of the debate and reduce tensions among Danbury residents?
As you watch the video clip, pay CLOSE attention to the reaction to the question from the VERY members of the council who are most responsible for the anti-immigrant legislation in the city that was described earlier.
Lets take a closer look at the “answers” these members of the council gave to this very simple question:
First up to bat, Republican Robert Arconti (a.k.a member of the council who proudly stood in solidarity with Greater Danbury’s anti-immigrant hate-group leader Elise Marciano. The relative of the beloved former Democratic Mayor Gino Arconti takes a note from the current mayor and ignores the issue of racial divisiveness altogether…
This immigration issue…I don’t think the question is divisive as the question poses.
Then in the next breath, continuing to ignore the issue, Arconti goes on a rant about his blind support for ICE ACCESS… something that has absolutely nothing to do with the moderator’s question.
…and in speaking with my constituents, I found that this was as issue that most people were in favor of having ICE ACCESS for the Danbury Police officers….
To put icing on the cake, Arconti finished his monologue with this gem…
Back in July of 2004, probably a little known fact that an illegal immigrant was here on the streets of Danbury. This immigrant was a convicted serial killer that was located by our officers and was taken into custody
Notwithstanding the fact that I haven’t verified Arconti’s claim, here are a few things to consider in regards to Arconti’s “statement.”
- In his rationale for ICE ACCESS, according to Arconti, in JULY 2004 Danbury Police officers located a convicted illegal immigrant, and took him into custody. Now if the police department was able to apprehend and identify, an undocumented immigrant with a felony criminal record and take him in to custody without ICE ACCESS, then how is can this be a rationale for having ICE ACCESS in Danbury?
- This ONE incident (an incident in which the police had no problem finding the individual without the assistance of the ICE ACCESS program) is the basis of Arconti’s justification for ICE ACCESS in Danbury….although Mayor Boughton has bragged during his tenure as mayor (2001-present) that Danbury enjoys one of the lowest crime rates in Connecticut? Would anyone want to guess how many undocumented immigrant criminal felons are there in a city that has one of the lowest crime rates in the state?
Based on Arconti’s own statement, it seems like the Danbury Police Department was doing quite well without ICE ACCESS, which is not surprising seeing that the police department were not the ones who requested that the city get involved with ICE ACCESS in the first place. That piece of micromanagement goes to the Republican members of the Common Council who pushed for ICE ACCESS in without the police department ever requesting the need for the program. Lets not forget that Arconti completely original question which had to do with racial tensions in Danbury, something that’s been around well before the debate over ICE ACCESS ever started.
Next up to bat, Republican/Boughton rubber-stamper Colleen Stanley:
The issue of immigration was not divisive in our community, it was the issue of illegal immigration that was divisive. But I also want to…hmmm, uh…explain how Danbury also has a long history of welcoming the immigrants into our community.
We have a many, many programs designed to assist the new immigrants into Danbury […] and I as a current councilwoman would continue to if elected to support our immigrant community.
Notwithstanding the fact that Stanley also COMPLETELY ignored the question of racial tensions in the city, she attempted to shift the conversation by pointing out a series of programs in the area that are designed to help the immigrant community as claim that she would support these program if re-elected. There’s only one problem with her statement, she left out the largest organization who’s sole mission Danbury is to support the immigrant community with every single program she outlined…The Hispanic Center of Greater Danbury.
In short, the Hispanic Center was one of the few organizations that spoke out against the anti-immigrant policies of the Mayor Boughton and Republicans such as Stanley resented the fact that the center spoke for those who were too afraid to speak out against the anti-immigrant polices of the mayor.
Saving the best for last, here’s Republican Phil Curran:
I don’t even accept this question at all because I think the strong point for Danbury, when I walk around and talk to my constituents, is the fact that we’re such adverse community…I just think that the problem we have with questions like this is that it’s certain people in the community that try to drum up problems.
Curran couldn’t answer the question because there isn’t a problem in his “neighborhood.” Even worse, he has the audacity to say that the issue of racism in the city is a result of a certain segment of the population (immigrants…wink, wink) who want to “drum up” things. Tell to that to the thousands of people who demonstrated outside of City Hall during the ICE ACCESS vote or the THOUSANDS who demonstrated in the 2005 and 2006 rallies down Main Street or the HUNDREDS to protested against the Danbury 11 case.
I guess it’s easier for Curran to ignore those who have been victimized by the anti-immigrant policies of Boughton because in his world, they don’t mater…
Somehow I get the impression that Councilman Curran’s constituents he’s in contact with don’t include to people who don’t share his skin-color.
Of all the people on the panel, only one person addressed the issue with common sense…and he just happens to be a Democrat.
Levy’s comment echoed a suggestion that was raised my several level-headed members of the Common Council during the vote for ICE ACCESS last year…a suggestion that’s also been largely ignored to this date.
Robert Riley, a Republican on the Common Council, said the city may need to go beyond creating a steering committee. It may be time to start a task force that will work to heal the divisiveness the immigration debate has caused in recent years, Riley said.
A task force formed after a race riot in 1976 proved to be effective, said Riley, a former Danbury teacher.
“Maybe if we all just sat down, maybe we can have a better understanding on all sides,” Riley said.
Unfortunately, Levy lost his re-election bid to the council…
In short, people on the council like Boughton, Arconti, Stanley, and Curran, are symbolic of a segment of Boughton’s political juggernaut that feels more comfortable ignoring the issue of racism in Danbury as opposed to acknowledging that the situation exist.
When you think about Boughton horrible immigration record in Danbury, think about what he’ll do for race-relations in the Connecticut if elected Lt. Gov…