Anti-racism protesters rally on Trumbull green

TRUMBULL — When a person has an infection, it gets treated with antibiotics. Inflammation is treated with anti-inflammatory. So it is only natural then, according to Trumbull High student Sierra Scott, that if racism is infecting society, it gets battled with anti-racism.

Scott, one of the speakers at Saturday’s anti-racism rally at Trumbull’s Town Hall Green, said anti-racism means having zero tolerance for racist behavior.

“It means refusing to stay silent, and using the support of others to ensure racism is never overlooked,” she said.

The rally was organized by a group of Trumbull elected officials and residents and hosted by Town Councilwoman Joy Colon, D-4.

Colon, believed to be the first woman of color ever elected to the Trumbull Town Council, recalled that it was less than a year ago when more than 1,000 protesters jammed the green in the wake of George Floyd’s killing by Derek Chauvin on May 25, 2020.

“That moment became a movement,” Colon said.

Tara Figueroa, a leader on the town’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Taskforce, also remarked how much had changed in the previous year.

“One year ago today, we had no idea who George Floyd was,” she said. “One year ago, 4,000 violent attacks on Asian-Americans had not happened.”

Figueroa commented on the tendency of people to praise the strength of Black and other minority families for their reactions to injustice.

“People will say, ‘You’re so strong,’” she said. “As marginalized people, we don’t have a choice but to be strong. We have to persevere because it’s our right.”

U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-4, agreed that equality was a basic right.

“This country is founded on the idea, even as we sometimes fall short, that we are created equal,” he said. “And we will be treated in a way not dependent on the color of our skin, or the god we worship, or the gender of the person we love. We are American people.”

Himes also referenced a counterprotest to the event that had been discussed on social media but never materialized.

“How can there be a counter to three simple words: Black Lives Matter?” he asked.

In the past year, Black Lives Matter has reached an inflection point as video footage captured by ordinary citizens have shown the country what Black people have always known, according to attorney Preston Tisdale. For years, he said, complaints that Black people were treated differently when it came to interactions with the police or in their daily lives were brushed off by the majority, he said.

“It is a legacy of slavery, and of Jim Crow that Black people are not to be believed,” he said. “People said, ‘Maybe they’re exaggerating.’ But then you saw it on your TV. The camera didn’t lie.”

Saige Annakie, another Trumbull High student, said racial prejudice persists in schools, and urged the adoption of a strict zero tolerance policy for race-based bullying or intimidation, even if such a policy will not directly affect her.

“I’m leaving for college in the fall, but this mission will carry on,” she said.

Adopting strong, unequivocal policies against racism is especially important given the attitude by many around town that it simply is not a problem, Annakie said.

“The biggest rebuttal is, ‘There’s no racism in Trumbull,’” she said. “

Figueroa, who was publicly threatened with having a cross burned on her lawn, agreed that ignorance of the problem was a barrier to effective solutions.

“If you have had the privilege of not having to experience discrimination, then that’s amazing,” she said. “But understand, that is not the experience of everyone.”