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Ernie Newton says he won’t pursue stop and frisk bill

December 21, 2018

BRIDGEPORT — City Councilman Ernie Newton said he remembers being stopped and frisked by police years ago.

“I know there’s got to be a better way,” Newton said in phone interview Friday. “So I’m going to back off ... because I recognize that the black community has had a serious long history of cops abusing their power.”

Newton announced at a press conference at Summerfield United Methodist Church on Clermont Avenue on Thursday that he planned to pursue a bill introducing a version of stop and frisk to the city of Bridgeport following the murder of 12-year-old Clinton Howell on Tuesday.

“My intention was to get these guns out of people’s hands that are killing one another and killing innocent people,” Newton said.

He said he understands why critics were mad. Among those critics was social justice advocate and member of Bridgeport Generation-Now! Action Council, Kate Rivera.

“It’s ridiculous,” Rivera said in a phone interview Friday. “We all know that it’s a failed policy and that it doesn’t work so I don’t know why it’s even being brought up.”

“We’re not doing this; no variation of this. We’re just not doing it,” Rivera continued. “We know what works and this isn’t it.”

Newton said Friday that he’s going to work with the community to search for other solutions.

“We’ve got to do better as a community, as people,” he said. “I will not submit the bill but I will sit down with our community leaders because we just got to stop it. We have to stop these kids carrying guns around our city.”

Rivera said what the city needs is more help and more programs for young adults.

“Don’t dream up old, dysfunctional, racist policies,” she said. “What we need are after school programs, youth programs ... we need a huge increase in therapists and counselors in schools.”

Newton said the city is aching after losing Howell and that he felt something had to be done.

“It could be my son, it could be your son, it could be your daughter,” to get shot next, Newton said. “They could be innocent, and they could be killed.”

He said he initially brought up the idea of bringing a stop and frisk policy to Bridgeport because he was frustrated and upset with gun violence in the city.

“I’m tired of seeing the same thing over and over again,” he said. “But I’m also tired of watching cops abuse their power when it comes to black and brown people. So we’ll find another way to look at this serious situation.”

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