CHRIS POWELL: A big reward in nooses case but none in murders nearby

Published on Monday, 24 May 2021 21:07

All the noose-shaped ropes that keep being found at the unfinished Amazon warehouse in Windsor are starting to seem less like the plot for which the Hartford chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People hopes – a plot to lynch Blacks – than a game of cat and mouse in which the mouse sees how easily the cat can be baited.

While by now nobody is really scared of the mouse's ropes, at the NAACP's insistence the reward for information leading to the mouse's arrest has been raised to $100,000.

But even as the NAACP waxes indignant about the mouse, the organization is silent about the nearly daily shootings in Hartford, some of which lately have killed Black people, like 16-year-old Ja'Mari Preston of New Britain, who was shot to death April 10 a couple hours after a 3-year-old Black boy was shot to death nearby. An arrest has been made in the latter murder but not in the former, and no reward has been posted in that case.

Indeed, it seems that no reward has been posted in any recent unsolved murder in Hartford, where most crime victims and perpetrators are members of minority groups. (This lack of rewards could not be officially confirmed, since the city's police department and mayor's office declined to respond to repeated inquiries.)

So the NAACP's obsession with the supposed nooses in Windsor is starting to seem like a campaign to distract from Hartford's worsening social disintegration.

Really, exactly what is the crime being investigated at the warehouse in Windsor? Littering?

For knotting a noose and leaving it at a construction site doesn't appear in the criminal code, and no one in particular yet has been injured or threatened by any of the nooses there, even as anyone may claim to be threatened by the nooses and the nooses may be just another stupid if provocative stunt, of which Connecticut and the country lately have had many.

It certainly is a successful stunt, since the NAACP is making sure that it consumes much time of the police and news organizations while people keep getting murdered nearby.

Until the perpetrators of the murders are apprehended, why should the police spend even a minute playing cat and mouse – except to help the NAACP look relevant again?

* * *

The biggest controversy of the current session of the General Assembly is ending as a laugher. While exclusive zoning in the suburbs continues to segregate Connecticut racially and economically and housing prices are soaring, the legislature again has declined to change anything substantial.

The recent clamor for state law to override exclusive zoning has been boiled down to a bill that would require towns to allow construction of accessory apartments in single-family homes – unless towns really don't want to. As a result many towns will continue prohibiting inexpensive housing.

As always, the decisive opposition to facilitating more inexpensive housing in the suburbs came from suburban Democratic legislators. The Democrats have big majorities in the legislature and could have reported any zoning bill they wanted. But all meaningful provisions were stripped out in committee.

The suburban Democratic legislators know that many of their constituents fear that inexpensive housing will unleash the pathologies of the city on the suburbs, since government policy long has been making a mess of the cities.

But while rising housing prices may cheer some homeowners, rising prices for housing are as hurtful for society as a whole as rising prices for food are, since both are necessities of life.

If state government ever could improve conditions in the cities, suburbs might be less afraid of inexpensive housing.

Lenin is supposed to have noted that if you label something well enough, you don't have to argue about it. Seeming to agree is state Rep. Toni Walker, D-New Haven, co-chair of the General Assembly's Appropriations Committee.

At a briefing last week on the committee's proposed state budget, Walker endorsed a silly bit of euphemizing that has been going around for a few years.

"It's not ‘spending,'" Walker said of her committee's budget. "It's investing."

Right – "investing." Now what has all that "investing" in Connecticut's cities accomplished?

Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.

Posted in The Bristol Press, Column on Monday, 24 May 2021 21:07. Updated: Monday, 24 May 2021 21:10.