Edna Garcia, who served four terms in the State House representing the 128th District in the East Side of Bridgeport and a Bridgeport public high school teacher of 28 years, posted this commentary on Facebook in response to a citizen protest of a city police officer who discharged a weapon inside the Bagel King in the North End. From Garcia:
Last Monday, sixteen people, most of them outsiders who don’t live in the City of Bridgeport decided to protest in front of the Bridgeport Police Department. These sixteen outsiders were coached by James Keyser, a Republican who lost his bid to a City Council seat. Thank God he lost!
Joining him were the following; a Tea Party organizer, Palin Smith, Elizabeth Drysdale and her daughter Sunshine both whom live in Waterbury, her father Cal who lives in Naugatuck, Dan Cewe, who lives in Glastonbury, David Ragozzine, who lives in Winsted, Justin Mountinho who lives in Waterbury, Lenny Benedetto who lives in Stratford and Marcel Fontaine who lives in Norwalk.
They all stood in front of the Bridgeport Police Department demanding the “head” of police officer Juan Santiago.
The issue at hand was their dissatisfaction with the way the Bridgeport Police Department is handling an incident in which police officer Juan Santiago “ACCIDENTALLY” discharges a firearm in a crowded Bagel King restaurant on Main Street last week.
The group accused the Bridgeport Police Department of having preferential treatment for cops and politicians in the city of Bridgeport. Waterbury resident Elizabeth Drysdale said, “There’s one set of laws applied to police and politicians, and another that’s applied to private citizens. If I had fired that gun inside a crowded restaurant, I would have been taken out in handcuffs, my gun would have been seized, my permit taken away and my children placed in protective services. That officer must have missed the class that deals with firearm safety.” These are her exact quotes.
Yes, Mrs. Drysdale, you or I, would have been certainly taken in handcuffs if we went to any place and fired a gun. Officer Santiago did not purposely go into Bagel King to fire a gun at any one. It was an accident!
The one Latino demonstrator in the group, Angel Martinez, who presented himself as being a member of a Bridgeport watchdog group called Connecticut Cop Block, stated:
“A badge doesn’t get you any extra rights, but it’s not uncommon for a police officer to get away with things.”
Shame on you Martinez! for throwing another Latino like yourself under the bus. If you thought there was an issue that needed to be addressed in your own city, why did you not rally the support of city residents instead of siding with outsiders?
It is not that I am against any city residents demonstrating if they feel that the system has failed them. Even when I am in disagreement I can still respect people’s right to voice their concerns.
However, what infuriates me in this particular case is that a group of individuals who do not live in our city came here to impose their subtle, divisive, racist opinion on our community with the excuse that because police officer Santiago was not arrested on the spot, somehow, he has been given preferential treatment.
There is not denying, that officer Juan Santiago has some explaining to do. I am sure this was an accident, and there is no denying that this is a serious matter. Someone could have gotten seriously wounded or killed. It is not my intent to diminish the seriousness of this incident but there is a process that takes place. I have full confidence in Bridgeport Police Chief Joseph Gaudett, because I know him to be a decent Public Servant, just like officer Juan Santiago, who abide to the letter of the law every time.
Officer Juan Santiago had been admitted to the hospital. You just can’t arrest someone without knowing the circumstances that led to the incident.
That is not “preferential treatment” it is part of due process in our justice system. Police Chief Gaudett, was correct in being cautious before making any assumptions, because he needed to ensure that he was not violating anyone’s rights, and subjecting the city to a law suit which ultimately would end up being footed by Bridgeport taxpayers. I am sure Chief Gaudett, acted properly by consulting with Bridgeport State Attorney John Smriga, and after having been accessed by him as to how to proceed, Chief Gaudett turned the investigation of the shooting incident to the state police.
Furthermore, Mr. Martinez YES!, “a badge does get you extra rights.” It gets a 28-year public servant like Officer Juan Santiago the respect of a community who knows him to be a dedicated, decent, respectful public servant. It gets police officer Juan Santiago the gratitude and love of an embattled community to which he has unselfishly given 28 years of his life to.
A badge gives him due process of the law just like it does for anyone else. How many years of your life have you given towards making the city of Bridgeport a better place for its residents Mr. Martinez? What else besides siding with outsiders and criticizing our public servants have you done in order to make our streets safer or to improve the quality of life for the residents in the city of Bridgeport?
Why don’t the pack of all of you who don’t live in Bridgeport, preoccupy yourselves with the business of the cities you each live in? Why don’t all of you mind your own business! Clean your own cities, before you come here to divide ours. Why don’t you spend your “valuable time” looking out for the minority profiling that goes on in Waterbury, Stratford, Naugatuck and Norwalk and let us the residents of Bridgeport decide what we need to protest about.
Better yet, since you are so enthusiastically willing to travel here, next time you visit, bring us jobs, financial assistance to start new businesses, and throw in a few affordable housing units, and most of all come with new ideas to help our failing school system, instead of wasting your time trying to knock one of ours down.
Bridgeport does not need publicity seeking wannabees to come and help us here, as if the citizens of Bridgeport were a whole bunch of morons. We have been in the trenches long enough to know the lights of people like you. Stay out of our City and our business!
There is already an investigation going on. I like to wait for the Bridgeport Police and the State police or whoever is conducting an investigation to complete their work before I go about asking for anyone’s head.
Your little display of “self-pontification” is the same crap that happens during any given election in this city. A bunch of outsiders who know nothing about the candidates or the districts they are working in, come by in droves during any given election to work against good, qualified, committed candidates, undermining the efforts of those who live in the city of Bridgeport, and do have a commitment and respect the communities they live in.
So please, do yourselves a favor, and the next time you feel compelled to engage in any activity outside your city’s, let it be a positive, uplifting one, instead of the divisive and negative one you chose this time. That will show that you have some respect for the residents of that city.