When it comes to an area with an anti-immigrant sentiment, it seems like East Haven picked up a thing or two from Danbury...the difference is that East Haven officials (including the police department) really screwed themselves this time.
Father James Manship, pastor of St. Rose of Lima Church, was in State Superior in New Haven Thursday morning, answering charges of disorderly conduct and interfering with a police officer. After a two-hour wait, the charges against the priest were dismissed in less than a minute. State prosecutor David Strollo said the state did not have sufficient evidence to go forward with the case.
Manship was arrested by East Haven police on Feb. 19 while videotaping what he described as systematic police harassment of Latinos in East Haven. East Haven business owners say local police have targeted them and their customers for intimidation and traffic stops without reason.
With their priest exonerated, Manship’s parishioners are now going on offense. Angel Fernandez, a parish leader at St. Rose of Lima, announced that Yale attorneys filed a complaint with the Department of Justice on Thursday morning seeking a federal investigation into allegations of race-based harassment by East Haven Police. East Haven Latinos and their advocates said they hope that a federal investigation will result in oversight and reform of East Haven’s police department.
“Can you imagine being arrested for no reason?” Father Manship asked rhetorically at a press conference on the New Haven green following his court appearance. He said that he had been fortunate to be a white man and a priest, represented by a team of attorneys. Others facing false charges are not so lucky, he said.
“I’m happy that this case is over. It’s been a distraction,” the priest continued. “Now we can get to the business at hand.”
The business at hand, announced St. Rose parish leader Angel Fernandez (pictured), is a federal investigation of racially motivated police harassment in East Haven. This abuse, Fernandez said, includes Latino drivers being pulled over without reason, Latinos being beaten while in police custody, and the systematic harassment of Latino businesses in East Haven.
Student attorneys from Yale’s Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization, a clinic at the law school, have collected over 20 personal stories of alleged police harassment and compiled them into a formal complaint, which they sent to the U.S. Department of Justice. The 14-page complaint requests an investigation of East Haven’s police department.
The document alleges a “pattern and practice of race-based violence and racial profiling against Latinos in East Haven.” It outlines four main areas of concern: racially motivated violence against Latinos, harassment and intimidation directed at Latino motorists and business owners, the “tacit approval” of the police department, and police retaliation against Latinos that have spoken out. Fernandez said that police abuse has escalated in East Haven in recent weeks, since Latinos have gone public with their experiences.
This whole entire situation was a joke from the start...and the fact that AS I TYPE THIS POST, the mayor of East Haven still refuses to address situation regarding the tactics used by her police department speaks VOLUMES about her character.
And oh, it looks like those Yale law students scored a victory...something people in Danbury should think about.
On September 26, 2007, ten plaintiffs filed suit in response to an arrest of aday laborers at a public park in Danbury, Connecticut. Plaintiffs amended their complaint on November 26, 2007.
The amended complaint states that plaintiffs sought to remedy the continued discriminatory and unauthorized enforcement of federal immigration laws against the Latino residents of the City of Danbury by Danbury's mayor and its police department.
Plaintiffs allege that the arrests violated their Fourth Amendment rights and the Connecticut Constitution because defendants conducted the arrests without valid warrants, in the absence of exigent circumstances, and without probable cause to believe that plaintiffs were engaged in unlawful activity. In addition, plaintiffs allege that defendants improperly stopped, detained, investigated, searched and arrested plaintiffs. Plaintiffs also allege that defendants violated their Fourteenth Amendment rights when they intentionally targeted plaintiffs, and arrested and detained them on the basis of their race, ethnicity and perceived national origin. Plaintiffs raise First Amendment, Due Process and tort claims.
Plaintiffs request declaratory relief, damages and attorneys fees.