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Hartford Vigil Set for Slain NYC Police

By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — Mothers United Against Violence will hold a vigil at City Hall on Wednesday for slain New York Police Officers: Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu.

Forty-year-old Ramos and 32-year-old Liu were ambushed and shot at point-blank range on Saturday, while seated in a police cruiser in Brooklyn, New York.

The shooter, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, reportedly boasted about killing police officers before he headed over to Myrtle Avenue and approached the officers from behind. He fired four shots at the car and fled.

The city’s vigil will be held on Dec. 23 at noon at City Hall, 550 Main St., downtown Hartford.

Like other communities across the country, Hartford organizers said this is an opportunity to respond to a police ambush that shocked a nation.

According to  NYPD Police Commissioner William Bratton. Liu had been married for two months. Ramos had a 13-year-old son.

Observers said that this police ambush was a retaliation against the court verdict of the killing of innocent black people, including the recent shooting and court verdict for Michael Brown. Brown was reportedly shot in the back.

President Barack Obama said there’s no justification for murder.

Obama, on vacation in Hawaii, called Mr. Bratton on Sunday to offer condolences and later issued a statement, saying: “I unconditionally condemn today’s murder of two police officers in New York City. Two brave men won’t be going home to their loved ones tonight, and for that, there is no justification.”


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Pew Study: More Americans Support Gun Rights

By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — After the 2012 school shooting in Newtown, Conn.,  many across the nation called on Congress to pass gun control measures that would require background checks and restrict individuals from attaining assault weapons.

Two years later, a new survey says there is growing support for gun owners, reversing the sentiment immediately after 20-year-old Adam Lanza entered an elementary school and killed 20 students, six adults and his mother. Lanza reportedly committed suicide.

According to a Pew Research Center study that marks the two-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook shootings,  there’s a shift in atttiudes about whether gun ownership does more to protect people or put them in harm’s way.

Currently,  52 percent of those surveyed says it is more imporant to protect the rights of American gun owners, while 46 percent say it is more imporant to control who owns a gun, the reports says.

“Support for gun rights has edged up from earlier this year, and marks a substantial shift in attitudes since shortly after the Newtown school shootings, which occurred two years ago this Sunday,” the report reads. “The balance of opinion favored gun control in the immediate aftermath of the Newtown tragedy in December 2012, and again a month later.”

The report also says that nearly six in ten Americans, or 57 percent, say gun ownership does more to proetc people from becoming victims of crime, while 38 percent say it does more to endanger personal saftey. In the aftermath of the Newtown tradegy, 49 percent said guns do more to proetect people. And 37 percent of those surveyed two years ago said guns place people at risk.

The Pew report comes on the heels of renewed effort to get Congress to regulate firearms. Two groups, Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action, released a report earlier this week that counted 95 school shootings since Newtown.

Gun reform advocates disagreed with the Pew Study findings, saying the wording of the questions about gun ownership is skewed.

Ron Pinciaro, president of the CT Voters for Gun Safety, said other surveys have favored what he said should be referred to as “gun violence prevention” policies.

“When they’re using the term ‘gun control,’ there’s kind of a bias attached to that. I would expect that that’s how the data would come out,” he said.

Scott Wilson, President of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, said the poll results accurately reflect the growing sentiment two years after the shootings in Newtown.

“I am not surprised to see the outcome of this poll. I do believe that after a shock period when a tragedy such as Sandy Hook occurs, people realize that law enforcement can’t be everywhere to protect people and it falls to people to protect themselves. The rational side of humanity eventually takes over,” Wilson said.

As of December 2014, there have been an estimated 126 school shootings since the shooting at Columbine in 1999.



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Flags Fly Half-Staff for Sandy Hook Victims

By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — This Sunday will mark the two-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting in Newtown.

That’s why Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has directed the United States and Connecticut flags to fly at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on  Dec. 14, to honor of the 20 children and six adults killed after 20-year-old Adam Lanza entered the school and opened fire.

Lanza committed suicide before state police arrived on the scene.

It wasn’t Connecticut’s first shooting massacre. But it was the first that shook almost every soul in Connecticut and beyond when they learned about the young victims and saw their faces in newspapers, on television and on social media.

The Newtown mass shooting was the deadliest mass shooting at a school in the U.S. And it was the most deadliest school shooting by an individual after the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings.

Many searched for a motive behind such killings. And for almost a year, the state probed the depths of the killer’s psyche for clues,  hoping to plumb the depths of  what they saw as an evil act. But they found little to soothe the wound that has yet to heal two years late.

A November 2013 report issued by the Connecticut State Attorney’s office concluded that Lanza acted alone. And there was no no evidence that explain why he killed those children, teachers and his mother.

See Report Here.

National and state leaders pledged to “never forget” this shooting, which has galvanized many in Newtown and across the nation. Together, they pushed for ways to mitigate the damage caused by the mass shooting, or to stave off another Sandy Hook shooting incident in Connecticut and across the country.

The victims’ families, other Newtown residents and supporters formed a group called The Sandy Hook Promise . They lobbied Congressional leaders who introduced legislation that included a banned on assault weapons and the Manchin-Toomey Amendment to expand background checks before gun purchases.  

Both measures failed in the Senate.

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School Board Reshuffles Offices

HARTFORD — In Hartford Superintendent Beth Schiavino-Narvaez’s  first “major response” to a transition report released on Oct. 20, the Hartford Board of Education recently approved a restructuring of the Hartford Public Schools Central Office.

The report, which was prepared by a 12-member team of national, state and local experts, identified “Transformation of the Central Office” as one of six recurring themes cited in interviews and surveys with 1,700 members of the Hartford community as essential to addressing the district’s greatest needs and to taking it to new levels of success.

“When done correctly, a Central Office Transformation becomes a high-impact lever that yields great results,” Narvaez said. “We believe this restructuring will elevate academics; accelerate student learning and decrease the variability of performance across and within schools.”

The reorganization will include the restoration of the position of Chief Academic Officer, who will concentrate on the core business of teaching and learning, which was cited in the transition report as an area that was lacking in focus. The Chief Academic Officer will also supervise Early Literacy, English Language Learning, College and Career Readiness, and Curriculum and Instruction, all of which had been housed in other departments, officials said.

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Protest Erupts After Grand Jury Acquits Police for Killing Michael Brown

By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

The nation is reacting to a  St. Louis County grand jury’s verdict after they refuse to indict a white police officer who killed an unarmed black teenager.

The jury said that 28-year-old Darren Wilson will not be indicted for killing 18-year-old Michael Brown with six shots in an August confrontation, St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch said lateMonday night.

In Washington, President Barack Obama called for peaceful protests.

“We need to accept that this decision was the grand jury’s to make. There are Americans who agree with it, and there are Americans who are deeply disappointed, even angry. It’s an understandable reaction,” Obama said. “But I join Michael’s parents in asking anyone who protests this decision to do so peacefully.”

As protesters took to the streets in Ferguson, The Hartford Guardian encourages readers across the country to  on Twitter.

According to reports, crowds of protesters filled streets near the Ferguson police station following the announcement. And police car and stores were set on fire, other stores were looted, gunfire was heard and bricks were hurled. Police said they had been fired on and responded with smoke bombs and pepper spray before using tear gas.

Police later said they came under heavy automatic weapon fire, and some buildings were left to burn because of the danger. County police said an officer suffered a gunshot wound, but it was unclear if it was because of the protest violence.

Protests sprang up in cities from New York to Los Angeles and remained mostly peaceful. At least half a dozen commercial airline flights into St. Louis were diverted out of concerns about the unrest.



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College Search Selects Three Finalists

HARTFORD — Three finalists were selected after a long search for a new president at Housatonic Community College, one of the 17 institutions of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System.

State officials said a nationwide, months-long search has been narrowed to include Dr. Athos K. Brewer, Vice President for Student Affairs, Bronx Community College of the City of New York; Dr. Paul Brodie II, Vice President for Student Services, Orange County Community College, a member of the State University of New York; and Dr. Matthew Reed, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Holyoke Community College.

“We are extremely pleased with the caliber of the candidates who applied for the position, and especially with that of the three finalists,” Chairman of the Board of Regents Nick Donofrio said. “These finalists represent the very best in higher education at this time, as evidenced by the experience and accomplishments that comprise their impressive careers to date.”

All three candidates will be visiting the Housatonic campus beginning in early December.  Reed will visit Dec. 1; Broadie will visit Dec. 2, and Brewer will visit Dec. 3.

During their visits to Bridgeport, the candidates will participate in various meetings and events with faculty, students, staff, and community stakeholders.

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Commission to Vote on Tech School Expansion

HARTFORD — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy recently  announced that the State Bond Commission on Wednesday will vote to approve $5 million for the continued expansion of the Connecticut Technical High School System’s  manufacturing programs, as well as funds for a new extended-hours program.

The State Bond Commission is scheduled to vote on the items at its Nov. 19, 2014, meeting at 10:30 a.m. in Room 1E of the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.

The governor said that this funding will help students to be  “better prepared for careers or to continue their studies in college as a result of these improvements.

State offificials said that the funds are requested to finance installation of equipment and machinery, alterations and improvements to buildings and computer and technology upgrades.

“Students in our manufacturing cluster receive the technical skills and training necessary to operate complex machines and produce high-quality products,” said CTHSS Superintendent Dr. Nivea Torres.  “Today’s manufacturing jobs require specialized computer training and Connecticut’s educational system is prepared to train young people to enter this exciting field.”

The technical system has 17 diploma-granting techinical high schools, one techical education center and two aviation maintaenance programs in the state.

Also, $434,000 is sought for extending school hours at A.I. Prince Tech in Hartford and Eli Whitney Tech in Hamden to “allow expansion of weatherization, carpentry, gas pipeline, cement masonry, and manufacturing programs,” officials said.



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CT Lawsuit Against Malloy Set for Oral Argument

HARTFORD  —  Three Connecticut parents recently sued Gov. Dan Malloy and other state officials to stop a union leader from serving on the State
Board of Education.

The group, Connecticut Parents Union, on Monday will head to Hartford Superior Court for oral  arguments.

The parents seek the removal of Erin D. Benham, President of the Meriden  Federation of Teachers and Executive Committee Vice President of the
Connecticut American Federation of Teachers to the State Board of Education. The group said she can either serve as a union official or a public official, but not both.

“Classroom teachers have the best interest of kids at heart. Union leaders start to forget that. They focus on protecting the union instead
of teachers and children,” plaintiff Gwen Samuel said. “I’m not anti-good teacher, I’m anti-bad teacher, and the unions don’t know the

Gwen and the other plaintiffs will be available for interview at the courthouse after oral arguments at approximately 11:30 a.m.

The lawsuit HHD-CV14-5038194-S SAMUEL, GWENDOLYN Et Al v. MALLOY, DANNEL P. Et Al, alleges that the appointment of the AFT Connecticut local president is clearly a conflict of interest and raises questions  about a quid pro quo for the teachers union’s contributions to Malloy’s re-election campaign. According to the complaint, before the appointment, the teachers union contributed $10,000 to Malloy’s campaign via the Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee and $250,000 to support Malloy through the Connecticut Forward  Super PAC.

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Gifted and Talented School Now Enrolling

HARTFORD — Selected city residents now have the opportunity to attended a school that’s designed for the gifted and talented children.

One hundred twenty-five students received offers this week to attend the Renzulli Gifted and Talented Academy, the only Hartford Public School, where enrollment is by invitation.
Parents do not have to participate in a lottery and bus transportation to and from the school will be provided.

The academy, at 121 Cornwall Street, will accommodate up to 50 new students in the fourth through eighth grades during the current school year (2014-2015), at the beginning of the second trimester on Dec. 8.

To be invited to attend, students must score at least three grades above their current grade level in all three categories. The tests are administered to all students from third grade up.

The invitation to apply is only the first step in the process of enrolling at the Renzulli Academy. The district follows up the application with a thorough examination of the prospective student’s grades, attendance and discipline record. Recommendations from each candidate’s classroom teachers are also required.

The student candidate must also demonstrate advanced levels of knowledge, outstanding communications skills, creativity, curiosity and resourcefulness in solving problems.

Open House at Renzulli Academy will be held  Nov. 24, 2014, at 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., and on  Dec. 1, 2014, at 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

Further information can be obtained by visiting the school’s website at

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White Connecticut Frat Goes Unpunished after Harassing Black Sorority

By Breanna Edwards, The

UCONN-STORRS — Members of University of Connecticut black sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha are speaking out against how they’re being treated by the historically white Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, especially after the frat went unpunished after alleged racist and sexist attacks, the school’s Daily Campus reports.

“We were called whores, and after establishing that I was a university professional I was verbally accosted, and intimidation tactics were used,” AKA Graduate Advisor Brittney Yancy said, speaking at a town hall meeting hosted by the African American Cultural Center On Monday. “They called me a fat black bitch, not just a fat bitch but a fat black bitch.”

“I have to deal with the fact that the student who has verbally accosted me received no punishment,” Yancy added of the late September incident.

According to the Daily Campus, the fraternity was subject to sanctions including loss of rock-painting privileges after allegedly painting a spirit rock with racially charged words while verbally harassing soror members, however individuals were not punished.

“Privilege will ruin our reputation,” the sorority graduate advisor added. “And if it goes unchecked, this is how it impacts our community. It will determine who matters, who is protected, who gets access and who is worthy of justice on this campus.”

According to the report, Yancy only learned at the town hall meeting that they could file individual complaints against members of the fraternity, as well as a complaint against PIKE as a whole.

“I think what is nauseating is the lack of transparency. It would have been great to know that someone needs to follow up on an individual complaint so we can take the appropriate actions,” she added.

The Daily Campus noted the absence of any of the historically white sororities as well as any member of PIKE at the meeting.

Read more at the Daily Campus.

Photo Credit: Facebook

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