NAACP, Community Leaders Meet With Prosecutors On UHart Case

Community leaders, including the state head of the NAACP, met with Hartford prosecutors Tuesday to discuss a racially charged case involving a former University of Hartford student and were told that any decisions on adding a hate crime charge will be guided by the evidence and the law.

“They brought to our attention their desire for the addition of a hate crime in this particular instance,” said Assistant State’s Attorney Carl Ajello, who met with the leaders along with Hartford State’s Attorney Gail Hardy. “One of their concerns was it was a long road to get a hate crime statute implemented in the state of Connecticut and they want it to be used when applicable.”

Ajello said prosecutors do not comment on pending charges, but said, “In the end, we have to follow what the evidence uncovers and institute the appropriate charges.”

The case involves Brianna Rae Brochu, 18, a former University of Hartford student who is white, who admitted that she covertly harassed her black roommate and tampered with her belongings and later bragged about it on social media.

West Hartford police charged Brochu last week with breach of peace and criminal mischief. She was was also banned from the university. After Brochu’s arrest, police said they would ask prosecutors to add a felony charge of second-degree intimidation based on bigotry.

Scot Esdaile, president of the Connecticut chapter of the NAACP, said the community leaders were “asking why she has not been charged with a hate crime. From what we’re looking at this is a clear cut hate crime, so tell us why?”

Esdaile added, “We are very disappointed that hate crime charges have not been made … but we are not trying to make something out of nothing.”

Rep. Brandon L. McGee Jr., D-Windsor, who along with Sen. Doug McCrory, D-Hartford, and Hartford City Council President Thomas “TJ” Clarke II attended the meeting and said it was “a lengthy conversation, talking about everything. Because none of us are attorneys, we had to get some clarity on some things … We just want to make sure that justice is served.”

Ajello said Tuesday that prosecutors have not received any requests for new charges from West Hartford, but that they are planning to meet with the police regarding the case.

He also said prosecutors are planning to speak with the victim, Chennel “Jazzy” Rowe, about the case and will consider information she provides when making a decision about additional charges.

Esdaile said the NAACP will hold a news conference and rally at the West Hartford Police Department on Wednesday at 6 p.m. instead of a march from the University of Hartford campus.

“We made it clear that we will do everything in our power outside and in the public to put pressure on making sure that this young white woman is charged with a hate crime.”

Esdaile said “the broader issue is that our community is over-policed and over charged and the white community is under-policed and under-charged.”

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