Prosecutors Will Meet With NAACP Over University of Hartford Case

Hartford State’s Attorney Gail Hardy will meet this week with NAACP leaders and state legislators over a racially-charged incident at the University of Hartford where a white student admitted she covertly harassed her black roommate and later bragged about it on social media.

Brianna Rae Brochu, 18, was arrested last month and charged with breach of peace and criminal mischief. She was also banned from the university. Last week West Hartford Police asked prosecutors to add a charge of second-degree intimidation based on bigotry or bias, a felony and one of the state’s hate crimes.

A decision has not yet been made on an additional charge for Brochu, who is due in court again Nov. 15.

Hardy, whose office is prosecuting Brianna Rae Brochu, said she and Carl Ajello, one of her supervising prosecutors, will meet in the coming days with NAACP leaders and legislators.

“We don’t comment on pending charges,’’ Hardy said.

The NAACP, meanwhile, is planning a march Wednesday to demand “justice” for Chennel “Jazzy” Rowe, Brochu’s roommate.

Scot Esdaile, president of the Connecticut chapter of the NAACP, said the organization wants to see Brochu charged with a hate crime.

Brochu’s actions against Rowe were “more than bullying, mischief or breach of peace. It was physical harm intended to intimidate and terrorize Chennel into feeling unwelcome in her own dorm room, because of her race and the color of her skin,’’ Esdaile said.

“That’s a clear-cut hate crime, and we will not be silent as law enforcement drags their feet in securing justice for” Rowe, Esdaile said.

Esdaile said a “felony hate crime” more accurately “reflects the nature of Brochu’s brutal attack.”

In the aftermath of the Brochu’s arrest and Rowe’s posting of a video on social media detailing her experience, police and prosecutors have been flooded with phone calls from people demanding Brochu face a hate crime charge.

“We fought hard to get these hate crime bills on the books,” Esdaile continued. “Now it’s imperative that the law enforcement uses the laws that are on the books.”

Esdaile said the NAACP’s youth and college division is working with students on the University of Hartford campus and inviting students from other colleges to the march.

Brochu’s actions first surfaced when she posted on Instagram on Oct. 17, referring to her roommate as “Jamaican Barbie” and boasting about how she had spit in her roommate’s coconut oil, put moldy clam dip in her lotions, rubbed used tampons on her backpack, and put “her toothbrush places where the sun doesn’t shine.”

Brochu later said she licked the victim’s plate, fork and spoon, put her tampon blood on Rowe’s backpack, and mixed Rowe’s lotions with other lotions from her roommate’s desk, but denied other actions posted on Instagram. She told police that anything else she spoke about on social media was a lie in an attempt to “appear funny.”

The warrant for Brochu’s arrest makes it clear that the two young women had not gotten along since the school year started.

Rowe said that from the beginning, Brochu “generally ignored her and treated her as a ‘ghost,’ ” the warrant says. Rowe had asked for a room change and was moving her belongings out of the room on Oct. 17 when Brochu’s Instagram post surfaced.

In a separate interview with police, Brochu said she did not have a good relationship with Rowe and began to lash out due to a “hostile environment,” caused by Rowe’s “rude behavior, not compromising, and posting Snapchat videos of me sleeping and making fun of me snoring.”

Brochu told police she had requested a room change on Oct. 11, but had not gotten one, the warrant says.

Rowe said she had been suffering from severe throat pain, which she told police she thought was related to Brochu’s tampering with her personal items.

The march is planned for Wednesday, stepping off at 5 p.m. at the University of Hartford and ending at the West Hartford Police Department.

Esdaile said he was meeting Monday afternoon with the University of Hartford public safety department to discuss the plans.

“We are aware of the march. The University’s Department of Public Safety is proactively working with the West Hartford Police Department with a focus on the safety of all participants,’’ said Molly Polk, a spokeswoman for the university.

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