Earlier this week at the Charter Oak Cultural Center in Hartford, a panel of Hartford leaders and concerned citizens came together to talk about the problems facing the Capitol City. Many believe Hartford is a city in crisis, with shootings up 33 percent from this time last year. Hartford is also reeling from two recent high profile incidents, including the hit and run of 78-year-old Angel Arce Torres on park Street in Hartford, and the mugging of former Deputy Hartford Mayor Nick Carbone. Hartford Leaders heard frustrations and suggestions from city residents. Everyone agreed, this level of violence and apathy cannot continue.
Emanuel Morales’ summer was punctuated by a number of disturbing and violent incidents in his neighborhood. But it was a shooting one day after school that finally moved the 18 year-old to act.
“It was people that I used to hang out with, shooting each other. And I’m like, you know what, I’ve got to change this. I can’t take this anymore.”
His focus was not reducing poverty, or the drug trade, or access to guns. For him, the difference between him and his peers is more simple:
“They lost hope. They lost a sense of direction. They didn’t care.”
Morales’ goal, then, is to renew hope in his community. Inspired by the Obama campaign, he joined with other students and the nonprofit Leadership Greater Hartford to organize a march against violence last month. More than 50 people turned out.
For their second march, they’ve expanded the outreach to students at more high schools. They have spent the week trying to recruit marchers, and this time, Morales points to the election results to win over skeptical students.
“Knowing what happened November 4, change can happen as long as there’s someone willing to fight for it.”
The second anti-violence march is at 3pm Friday at Hartford’s Weaver High School. The student organizers hope to follow up with more activities that bring together youth from across Hartford.