Concerns About Violence Prompt Hartford Citizens To Launch Armed Patrols

( — Organizers in Hartford, Connecticut, last weekend launched an effort for legally armed citizens to patrol certain violent areas of the city, despite some, including the mayor, expressing concern about the effort, NBC Connecticut reported.

The patrols of Hartford’s North End began last Saturday with a group of citizens cleaning up and patrolling Garden Street, an area experiencing increased violence and gun crime, including a double homicide last month.

Following the February 10 double homicide, Hartford minister Dexter Burke called on the Self-Defense Brigade for help, asking the group to patrol the Garden Street area.

According to Self-Defense Brigade founder Cornell Lewis, the group is made up of “legally armed” citizens. He told NBC Connecticut that the residents of Garden Street asked for help, and the group responded.

Open carry is banned in the state. However, organizers insist that each of those on patrol is legally licensed to carry a concealed weapon.

Hartford Mayor Arunan Arulampalam opposes the citizen patrols, arguing that the area had already seen enough pain and trauma and did not need armed citizens walking the streets or “trying to take the law into their own hands.”

The mayor insisted that placing more guns on the streets would only “lead to more deaths.”

The local group Mothers United Against Violence also spoke out against the effort, arguing that area residents were already traumatized enough by the violence and did not need armed citizens patrolling the streets.

However, Lewis insisted that the Self-Defense Brigade is not a group of vigilantes but people who are “disciplined and trained.” He said the group has done armed patrols in the area in the past at the request of residents and never had any issues.

Lewis said the group planned to patrol the North End several times a week. He said the night-time patrols would not be a “one-time thing.”

The organizers insist that patrols are needed in the area. The group also expects to expand the patrols to other parts of Hartford.

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