Here is a quick roundup of stories from around Connecticut:
Rallying for Justice
Just as communities around the world saw protests in the wake of the Memorial Day killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, people in Connecticut’s biggest cities and smallest towns have been moved to action over issues of racial justice and police reform. From Hartford to Hamden and Bethel to Bloomfield, demonstrators marched down streets and gathered on greens to make their voices heard. While acts of property destruction and confrontations between protesters and authorities occurred in some places in the U.S., Connecticut’s demonstrations have been largely peaceful. But the message of state activists has been no less passionate than that of counterparts across the country. Some protesters expressed frustration and impatience over a lack of sufficient change after previous police shootings. “We need policing, but policing with humanity, not supremacy,” organizer Remidy Shareef said during a Hamden unity march.
Many marches in Connecticut ended up at police stations, where activists directly addressed officers. On June 1, about 500 people arrived at Stamford police headquarters, where Police Chief Tim Shaw initially said he would not take part in the protest. But after Black Lives Matter organizers asked him to speak to the crowd, he agreed, saying, “Everyone in law enforcement feels the same as the community,” adding that officers feel “disgust” over Floyd’s death. “The police, they’re as angry as everyone else.” As seen here, protesters and Shaw then joined together to take a knee and share an 8-minute moment of silence. — AY
Fourth of … September?
It’s July, and in the U.S. that means fireworks. Only this year America will celebrate its 244th birthday in small groups in backyards and on dead-end streets instead of massive crowds at fairgrounds and on beaches. So what are towns to do with all these fireworks? One answer may be to hope social-distancing measures are relaxed in time for a Labor Day fireworks spectacular.
Greenwich is looking at an “alternative fireworks event in either late summer or early fall.” Madison’s plan is to hold the canceled parade and fireworks show over Labor Day weekend. New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker says he “will be exploring other ways to celebrate Independence Day” in the Elm City. The annual grandiose dueling display by Naugatuck Valley towns Shelton and Derby has been called off with no word of rescheduling. Fairfield canned its Fourth of July plans but hopes to celebrate Memorial Day later on this summer.
Bottom line, almost no town-sponsored fireworks will be set off on July 4th weekend — Waterbury still plans to light up the sky on July 5. Depending on how the pandemic plays out over the summer, some are still holding out hope that the show, any show, must go on. — MW
The roads less traveled
An analysis of cellphone data by New Haven-based nonprofit DataHaven illustrates the dramatic drop in travel among Connecticut residents since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. DataHaven estimated that by late April, social-distancing policies had already saved the lives of 10,000 Connecticut residents, which they noted was “more than the total number of deaths caused by heart disease and stroke combined each year,” and that an additional 4,000 lives, for a total of at least 14,000, had been saved before the state began gradually reopening in mid-May. — EO
A legacy of her own
We all know there’s no crying in baseball, but all is forgiven if you shed a tear for Mary Pratt, the last living member of the Rockford Peaches who died on May 6 at the age of 101 in Massachusetts. Pratt was born in Bridgeport in 1918 and her father worked for the Lake Torpedo Boat Co., an early submarine builder. The Peaches, of course, were immortalized in the 1992 film A League of Their Own, a fictionalized account of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which was started in 1943 when many players from Major League Baseball were off fighting in World War II.
Rocks of ages
Not one but two ancient stone artifacts were found by men on seaside strolls on two separate Connecticut beaches in May. At Hammonasset State Beach in Madison, Bob Kyrcz discovered an egg-shaped stone that was likely used as a multi-tool by native inhabitants hundreds or even thousands of years ago. And at Quotonset Beach in Westbrook, Farmington resident Evan Honeyman spotted a small chiseled stone that’s believed to be between 1,000 and 6,000 years old and was possibly a spear tip or arrowhead. State Archaeologist Sarah Sportman, who consulted on both discoveries, says that ancient objects are sometimes found on state beaches because “our shorelines are more inundated by water than they were at different times in the past, so a lot of archaeological spots are actually underwater.” — EO, AY
Escape from New York, Part 2
A “tidal wave” is how one Fairfield County real estate agent describes the May queries from New York City denizens, as coronavirus pandemic fears and fatigue had many Manhattanites looking to buy in the suburbs.
Entering June, the Connecticut markets had yet to show conclusively the tide had turned, but the possibility remains for a big summer of closings for home sellers as properties come to contract. Agents say buyers surged out of the city for in-person and virtual showings from Greenwich to Mystic, and into Litchfield County and the Connecticut River Valley. Bidding wars broke out over multimillion-dollar homes, whether as a summer rental escape or for a permanent move.
For homeowners distressed by multiple years of lowball offers on homes where they wish to cash out, the coming months could represent their best window in years to get a deal done. “I don’t know that [New Yorkers] necessarily want to stay out of the city — hey, they just want to have an option to go someplace else,” says Candace Adams, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties, based in Wallingford. “I found it very interesting that the studios and one-bedroom apartments were flying off the [New York City] market. … People are renting smaller space there so they have a place there — and then they’re buying out here.” — AS
Correction: The "A legacy of her own" item was updated June 27 to correct the baseball team's location from "Rockville" to "Rockford."