Pastor Gaston: Flabbergasted And Appalled By Newton’s Stop And Frisk Proposal

Herron Gaston

The Rev. Dr. Herron Keyon Gaston, associate director of admissions at Yale Divinity School, is senior pastor of Summerfield United Methodist Church on the East Side. He also serves on Bridgeport’s Civil Service Commission. On Thursday he called a news conference to discuss a broad range of issues to help curtail gun violence.

The oxygen was taken out of the room when City Councilman Ernie Newton called for a controversial “stop and frisk” policy. In the commentary that follows Gaston declares “Councilman Newton’s views are reckless, wanton, and reprehensible and does not reflect the values of the people of Bridgeport.” For background on Gaston see here.

Yesterday, I called a press conference at Summerfield United Methodist Church in Bridgeport, where I serve as the senior pastor, to discuss the rampant gun violence in our community. I purposely invited members of the community, along with governmental leaders to partake in what I envisioned to be a productive and substantive gathering, to not only discuss a better way forward for Bridgeport, but to give birth to a citizens review committee that will meet quarterly to put forward a vision for Bridgeport that would address a wide array of pressing issues for our community, including but not limited to community based policing, (where the police works hand and glove with the community), the reinvestment in recreational programs for our youth, creating apprenticeship opportunities, summer internships, mentoring, counseling, and mental health services as a few measures to help address some of the systemic and institutional challenges faced in our community.

With respect to gun violence, I proposed adopting common-sense legislation that will close the gun loopholes to make it harder to get a gun. I challenged Mayor Ganim and the Police Department to invest in smart gun technology, and to push manufactures to make greater investments in procuring the safety of the citizens of this great state and the residents of Bridgeport. I challenged Chief Perez to more effectively enforce the buy-back program, where police officers will incentive residents to turn in illegal guns, without the fear of prosecution, and their failure to do so, if caught, will result in a full measure of justice.

Instead of these common-sense and progressive proposals being presented by the media, the media chose to be distracted by Councilman Ernie Newton’s outlandish proposal of “Stop and Frisk,” and his quest to codify an ordinance that would allow law enforcement officers to stop, frisk, and detain our residents, and to search civilians on the street for weapons and other contraband.

This race-based and discriminatory practice proved to be unconstitutional in New York and resulted in gross negligence by the New York Police Department. I fundamentally believe that this is a step in the wrong direction, and I am vehemently opposed to any variation of such unjust discriminatory practices enacted upon the residents of Bridgeport. In fact, politics is the process by which we choose our elected officials and hold them accountable to the constituents they represent. Councilman Newton represents the 139th district in Bridgeport, which is a district where I live and where my church community resides, I am flabbergasted and appalled and reeling with frustration about Councilman Newton’s proposal, and I cannot sit idly by with bated breath and startled eyes and allow this debacle of a policy initiative that lacks sophistication to move forward. Councilman Newton has spoken. He has clearly demonstrated to voters that he does not understand the detrimental impact of these policies on real people and is guilelessly out of touch with reality and has not paid close attention to the annals of history and the fraught relationship between law enforcement and the African American community. The measure that Councilman Newton is calling for would set us back decades and will be an Achilles hill for any progress won on this front. Councilman Newton’s views are reckless, wanton, and reprehensible and do not reflect the values of the people of Bridgeport. I am not suggesting that we don’t do anything on this issue–to not do anything would be maleficent and gravely irresponsible, but “stop and frisk” is not a meaningful solution to the problem. It would only exacerbate it.

I would like to send a strong message that the people of Bridgeport will not be bamboozled, hoodwinked, or browbeaten into submission to accept such policy. I stand ready to challenge any politician in the general election who would advance the cause of this piece of legislation. Bridgeport deserves a leader who will not back down to political oligarchs and plutocrats, and those who attempt to undermine the public’s best interest. Bridgeport deserves a leader who will speak intelligently about the issues, fight for the rights of all citizens, and who does not kowtow to the political machine at the detriment of the masses. I admire the resilience of the residents and stand in bold solidarity with so many who will be detrimentally impacted by Councilman Newton’s proposal. I am calling for us to come together as a community to forge a more sensible way forward.

Yours in the struggle for justice,

The Rev. Dr. Herron Keyon Gaston, Senior Pastor, Summerfield United Methodist Church

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14 comments

  1. Pastor Gaston is eloquent, intelligent, articulate, is capable of formulating comprehensive sentences, can punctuate, spell, capitalize and more.

    And he lives in the 139th District where Ernie Newton serves as a City Councilman. Hmmm…

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  2. Stop and frisk does not work and targets minorities!!!! I’m pro police but I’m anti innocent people being targeted!!! Newton is trying to do something which I applaud because most bpt politicians dont care bit this is not the way to do it.

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  3. Let me first say, “I am tired of watching innocent people in our community being killed by unlawful gun carrying people”. Today, I spoke to Scott Esdaile, President of the NAACP of the State of CT. He made a great point that the stop and frisk policy would not accomplish what I’m trying to do and that is to stop young men from shooting up our community and killing one another. He made it clear that good people in the city of Bridgeport did not kill the young boy. It was my intention to try to stop all the violence in our city. I will find other ways to keep these guns out of the hands of bad people.

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  4. Maria and others may be impressed by his eloquence. I am not. I have seen it before.
    He refuses to admit that there is a morality problem in much of the black community.

    What will the ‘reverends’ do now? Organize a march to protest violence? (again)

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  5. Tom (being) White, I can safely assume that there is a morality problem in the white community because these young white boys are committing all these school, movie theater and mass killings?
    Why when a Black does something it’s an indictment of the whole Black race, yet when a white person does something equally heinous it’s just that one individual?

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    1. Don, it’s called “mental illness” when one of those white guys kills someone with a gun but it’s the entire black community who are the protential suspect. Connecticut needs a “stand your ground” law instead of a stop and frisk law. The one time the NRA supported gun control was when it was legal to carry a gun in the open on California when the Black Panther Party showed up the state capital in Sacramento with their guns.

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  6. I have a question is it the policy or stop and frisk or the police. I have to give Ernie some credit for trying to bring a police officer to help curve the gun violence. What use to be a fist fight has turned on to a random shootout in a lot of cases. The only way something like this would seem to work to me. If it was granted to a specialized trained tack force as a tool to target hot spots and problematic areas that are knowing to be gun violence. It would limit the police abuse of harassment and give greater control of the implantation of the police to a specified force. Stop and frisk to me is about changing the behavior of youths carrying guns in the street. I always viewed stop and frisk as the other hand to body cams. A tool to curve youths carrying guns around with them all the time and cops abusing their power in making arrest. And cop’s behavior in making arrest, using needless excessive force.

    While Maria may like Pastor Gaston eloquence. It’s always a generic statement when pressed to hold one of these press conference, and they were pressed because it was not solely about gun violence because if it was they would have had one a few weeks ago when the girl was shoot or the one before that. But since is was a child everybody had to come out, even the governor. Let’s look at Pastor’s so-called solution to the city’s gun violence. 1. Common sense gun laws to close the gun loopholes. Well, CT has strong gun laws. Those loopholes are in other states lets focus on what just happen and what’s going on in our city and neighborhoods. Let’s not forget the drugs are out right band (illegal). So, if the drugs are getting in the hand of our residents so to can the gun. 2. “I challenged Mayor Ganim and the Police Department to invest in smart gun technology” It’s not the problem that police have guns or “smart gun”. It’s the illegal guns on the street in the hand of the youth, who brains are still developing and who are easily to make a bad, (unsound) decisions. But he is reeling about Ernie’s proposal or stop and frisk because of “history and the fraught relationship between law enforcement and the African American community.” Yet he requested the police department get smart guns, but no mention or demand for body cams. To stop their abusive behavior towards black community. You know who should be reeling the black (minority) who really care about what is going on in their neighborhood and how the police are treating them, and Pastor Gaston and others black voices are requesting “smart guns technology but not demanding body cams to stem police abuse. We should have had body cams years ago. But let’s force on getting those “law enforcement with the fraught relationship with the African American community “smart guns”. SMBH. 3. Lets hold the gun manufactures because of their products. You know how many fatalities distracting drive has each year because of the “smart” phone. Do you want to sue Apple or Samsung? 4. The gun back, if a bought an illegal gun for $500 and made a conscience decision to get away from it type of life. I would resale it for $600 on the street not $50 to the police, unless it broke. Then yeah, I sell it back to the police. Just because someone make a good decision to leave the streel life doesn’t make them financially stupid. That just sounds good. I would like to know what Pastor Gaston meant when he said, “failure to do so, if caught, (with a gun) will result in a full measure of justice.” Mandatory sentencing? While a hope Ernie views trying it implement a policy to help his community such as stop and frisk. I do ask what the main problem with stop and frisk to those detractors. Is it the policy or the police? If it the police, then it’s not the policy. If it’s the policy, then it’s not the police. I stand by my statement on the policy for stop and frisk, like body cams it could, if use wisely correctly can to change the behavior of the youth to always carry a gun, that works to address the police abuse. But that is not my decision. I do ask Pastor Gaston and the NAACP to request the police get their body cams before Smart Gun, thought. To my knowledge we still don’t have them, do we? I swore I was done post on OIB before the topic came up. Peace out OIB https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-IkWpm7TS0

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