Archive | June, 2015


Hartford Police Arrest Three for Narcotics

HARTFORD —  Hartford Police arrested three men on Wednesday for drug and weapons charges, police said.

Police arrested James Castaneda, 26, of Hartford was arrested on charges of possessing narcotics and other controlled substances, Henry Dejesus-Morales, 27, of Hartford for  possessing a firearm and narcotics, and Eddie Crespo, 24, of West Hartford for possession of narcotics.

Police said they obtain a tip that the suspects  at 100 Francis Ave. in Hartford were conducting illegal drug sales and possess firearms.

Among the items recovered are a 9mm handgun, 13 grams of crack cocaine, ammunition and $4,000 in cash and more than 1100 bags of heroin.

Items that the police found at the location included one loaded handgun and a large amount of narcotics, packaging material, U.S. Currency and a large amount of live ammunition.

Bond and court dates were unavailable at press time.


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UConn Health to Address Health Disparities

FARMINGTON –  Health officials are gearing up to address health disparities in Connecticut.

The Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science at UConn in partnership with the Connecticut Legislative Black & Puerto Rican Caucus and the W. Montague Cobb/NMA Health Institute, will host the National Health Disparities Elimination Summit at UConn Health in Farmington on  June 13.

The summit, “Keeping it Real: Real Solutions, Real Change,” seeks to spearhead an important dialogue and generate actionable solutions to eliminate health disparities.

The summit’s keynote speaker will be Louis W. Sullivan, M.D., former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, CEO and chairman of The Sullivan Alliance, and President Emeritus of the Morehouse School of Medicine.

Sullivan and other distinguished speakers will share their expertise and insight into the causes of health disparities and avenues for change. As a result, a collaborative atmosphere will be created to define pathways to truly eliminate health disparities.

For further information about the National Health Disparities Elimination Summit at UConn, visit the organization’s website (


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Senate Passes NSA Reform Bill: USA Freedom Act

Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — After much wrangling over the need to balance national security and privacy concerns, the Senate on Tuesday passed a bill that aims to protect America against suspected terrorists.

The USA Freedom Act now requires overzealous intelligence and law enforcement officials to get a court order before probing phone databanks and engaging in counterterrorism activities such as wiretaps.

The Senate approved the bill 67-32, ending the brief lapse after it allowed the Patriot Act to expire Sunday at midnight. And previously, the House of Representatives passed a version of the bill with 338 Democrats and Republicans.

President Barack Obama, who pledged to address National Security Agency reform, signed the bill on Tuesday. This is one of the most sweeping surveillance reform in a generation.

Several surveillance programs were illegal because it violated Americans’ civil liberties, according to many conservatives on the hill. The most controversial surveillance tool, they said, is the sweeping power under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which requires the government to collect bulk phone records — including the numbers, time stamps, and duration of a call — and give sweeping power with wire taps.

It is a relief to millions of Americans because it reigns in the government’s surveillance powers.

“After needless delay and inexcusable lapse in important national security authorities, my administration will work expeditiously to ensure our national security professionals again have the full set of vital tools they need to continue protecting the country,” Obama said.

Sen. Mitch McConnell meets the press after Senate passes USA Freedom Act bill.

Sen. Mitch McConnell meets the press after Senate passes USA Freedom Act bill.

Other observers said this is “sensible” NSA reform that will restore public confidence in the country’s surveillance programs. That’s because the USA Freedom Act overhauls the government’s collection of bulk phone records and instead requires telecommunications companies to hold the data. The NSA now has six months to end its bulk collection program. Additionally, the Act restores the “lone wolf” provision, which allows law enforcement officials to follow suspects in contact with other terrorist groups.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said this law “balances the need to protect the country with the need to protect the privacy of the American people.”

However, Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), along with other conservatives who wanted to add more power to the NASA, disagreed with the majority.

“I cannot support passage of the so-called USA Freedom Act,” McConnell said. “It does not enhance the privacy protections of American citizens, and it surely undermines American security by taking one more tool from our war fighters at the wrong time.”

Other proponents of civil liberty chimed in on what is considered a major reform of the way the NSA conduct its programs.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the law “is critical to keeping Americans safe from terrorism and protecting their civil liberties.”

In a press release Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union Deputy Director Jameel Jaffer said: “”This is the most important surveillance reform bill since 1978, and its passage is an indication that Americans are no longer willing to give the intelligence agencies a blank check.”

Intelligence officials will continue using Section 215 and the roving wiretap provision for investigations that began before the June 1.

The program is one of the most controversial spying programs exposed by the Edward Snowden leaks nearly two years ago.

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UConn’s Kevin Ollie to Speak at Summer Soiree

By Shakira Johnson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — The Greater Hartford Arts Council will host its first Summer Soirée on June 17 at the historic Philip Cheney Mansion in Manchester with basketball coach Kevin Ollie.

Ollie, UConn’s head basketball coach, will speak at the event to benefit the Arts Council’s 2015 United Arts Campaign and Neighborhood Studios, a summer arts apprenticeship program for teens. The event will begin at 5:30p.m.

The event will also feature live entertainment by Neighborhood Studios apprentices and master teaching artists. Guest speaker, Coach Ollie, will speak about the importance of youth engagement and development through community programs like Neighborhood Studios.

Coach Ollie made national headlines in 2014 when The Huskies defeated the Kentucky Wildcats in the NCAA men’s championship.

Arts Council officials said Ollie is known for his commitment to building strong, professional teams that aligns with the mission of Neighborhood Studios.

Tickets are $150 and can be purchased online at

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CT Senate Unanimously Backs Police Accountability Bill

By Mark Pazniokas, CT Mirror

HARTFORD — The state Senate responded early Tuesday to demands for greater police accountability by unanimously passing legislation that would establish standards for investigating officer-involved shootings and equipping police with body cameras.

With the vocal support of Republican leaders, including a recently retired police officer, the Senate voted for a bill that also requires changes in police training and hiring and subjects departments to liability if police illegally stop a citizen from recording them.

“Police officers have very broad authority, and that includes the use of force, deadly force, in protection of themselves and others,” said Sen. Eric Coleman, D-Bloomfield, offering a simple rationale for a bill that has taken on a sense of urgency in recent months.

The bill goes to the House, where the Republican minority leader, Rep. Themis Klarides of Derby said the GOP has not agreed to let the bill come to a vote before the constitutional adjournment deadline of midnight Wednesday.

The Senate vote came at nearly 4 a.m.

The Connecticut State Police would be required to equip its troopers with body cameras, while municipal departments would be encouraged with financial assistance, but not required, to follow suit.

A pool of $13 million in grants would be created for municipalities to purchase cameras and store the images, beginning in the 2017 fiscal year.

The revised bill was co-sponsored by four Republicans in the Senate, including Minority Leader Len Fasano of North Haven and Kevin Witkos of Canton, a retired police officer.

Passage followed high-profile police shootings, including one in which a passerby made a recording of a white officer in North Charleston, S.C., shooting an unarmed black man in the back as he ran away after a traffic stop.

“I think this is a great step forward,” Fasano said. “We don’t need the incident here. Let’s get ahead of it. Let’s be proactive.”

Sen. Gary Winfield, D-New Haven, said legislators in Connecticut were talking about the issue of greater police accountability long before incidents in South Carolina, Ferguson, Mo., and elsewhere.

“I am very pleased I know this is a bipartisan effort,” he said.

The bill exempts the body-camera video recordings from release under the Freedom of Information Act under several circumstances, including communication with other officers, encounters with informants, and interactions with victims of domestic or sexual abuse. Recordings depicting victims of homicides, suicides and accidents also are exempt.

The bill encourages departments to recruit minorities and prohibits them from hiring former officers who were fired or disciplined for malfeasance or serious misconduct.

It also requires that police shootings be investigated by a special prosecutor or a prosecutor from a different judicial district than that where the death occurred.

Under current practice, the chief state’s attorney is permitted but not required to have police shootings investigated by a prosecutor from a different judicial district.

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YMCA Honors Former City Councilman Matthews

By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — Former City Council Member I. Charles Matthews was recently honored by the YMCA of Greater Hartford.

Mathews of West Hartford received the 2014 Robert C. Knox, Jr. YMCA Distinguished Leadership Award at the YMCA’s 162 Annual Meeting.

The award honors the memory of the late Robert C. Knox, Jr., a Hartford insurance executive, whose dedication helped the YMCA grow, prosper and fulfill its mission to serve others.

Officials said the award is the YMCA of Greater Hartford’s highest honor recognizing volunteers.

After a career in corporate law and city government, I. Charles found a new calling in the Y.

“I’ve got 4,000 kids at the Wilson-Gray YMCA,” Matthews said and his volunteers are mentoring them all, starting in grade school with a program that brings in speakers– doctors, lawyers, engineers, business leaders– who give them a glimpse beyond their neighborhoods.

Matthew said he has helped to expand community engagement with the state and Hartford city official and to increase the Y’s presence within the local neighborhood by establishing community events.

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Historian to Discuss First Black Female Abolitionist

HARTFORD – June is Caribbean-American Heritage Month. And in celebration of Caribbean-American Heritage Month, Dr. Ann-Marie Adams will hold a discussion about race, gender, and education in Connecticut at the Avon Public Library on June 30.

Dr. Adams’ talk entitled Maria Stewart: Alchemy of Race, Gender, and Education in Antebellum Connecticut, will begin at 6 p.m. in the Library’s conference room at 281 Country Club Road in Avon, CT.

Adams, a historian and journalist, will also discuss the contours and complexity of the long Civil Rights Movement in Connecticut, which catapulted Maria Stewart to fame in the 1800s. Stewart was the first black, female abolitionist, a contemporary of Frederick Douglass.

She was also the first black woman to give a public speech in America.

She was also known for giving the first speech before a mixed audience of men and women. In the 1800s it was not proper for women—black and white—to speak before an audience with men.

And unbeknown to many, Stewart was from Connecticut.

A Caribbean-American, Dr. Adams said she is delighted to share this hidden history with the public.



Stewart has been heralded by many black feminists, but she does not get the attention of Frederick Douglass or Harriett Tubman.

Stewart was born in the West Indies.

For more information, call 860-403-0055.

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