Letter: Work needed to make borough a place where all feel comfortable, unthreatened

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To the editor,

The undersigned support our students for a unified, multiracial Naugatuck. We unequivocally condemn the racist and violent messages posted to social media by the daughter of Naugatuck Police Chief Steven Hunt and Naugatuck High School Associate Principal Johnna Hunt. The circumstances surrounding these posts need to be thoroughly investigated and the results of these investigations made public.

We demand that:

  • If deemed culpable for the actions of their daughter, Steven and Johnna Hunt must be immediately removed from their respective positions.
  • Benchmarks must be put in place to diversify the racial makeup of the Naugatuck Police Department and the Naugatuck public schools teaching staff.
  • For the 2021-22 academic year, Naugatuck public schools must implement internship, mentorship and community outreach programs for Black students and the community.
  • The Naugatuck Police Department and Naugatuck Public Schools must implement annual diversity and bias training for all officers, staff, faculty and students. This should be coordinated by an outside, professional organization that specializes in such training. The aim of this training will be to create and implement educational opportunities across the community that inform people, policies and practices in order to continue shifting Naugatuck toward a more positive and just climate.
  • Any regulations regarding the need to obtain “solicitation permits” from the Naugatuck Police Department for non-commercial activities must be eliminated as a violation of First Amendment free speech rights.
  • All town meetings and workshops not in executive session must be recorded and posted publicly to YouTube within 48 hours for ease of access by the public.

Acknowledging that racism exists in Naugatuck is the first step in breaking the vile cycle of inequality and hate. The demands above are the next step, and even then, much work will have to be done by the Naugatuck Police Department and Naugatuck Public Schools to earn back the trust of the community.

We continue the work of aspiring to a borough where all feel comfortable and unthreatened, where racial minorities are not afraid of those in power, and where the aberrant views of white supremacy are dragged into the sunlight to be shamed and rejected.

Len Yannielli

Naugatuck

Also signing this letter: Akilah Bell, Jendaya Bell, Nailah Bell, Dee Broe, Megan Cancelliere, Valerie Jean Doty, Kara Euvino, Ashley Hines, Richard Hines, Greg Klusacek, Patrick Scalisi, Kit Salazar Smith, Michele Zychowski.