Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition: Connecticut Church Begins Armed Neighborhood Patrols

by Tommy Grant

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In Hartford, Connecticut, a unique initiative has been launched by a group of residents associated with the Self-Defense Brigade and Walk In The Light Church of God, who have started conducting armed neighborhood patrols, Fox 61 reports. Their mission began on a Saturday with a dual agenda: educating participants about Connecticut’s gun laws and engaging in a community cleanup effort labeled as a “clean the street” event. During this inaugural patrol, more than two dozen volunteers took to Garden Street, not only to collect trash but also to symbolically cleanse the neighborhood of crime, especially in Hartford’s troubled North End.

The decision to form such patrols was motivated by the area’s ongoing violence, highlighted by a recent double homicide near the church. Archbishop Dexter Burke expressed his desire for positive change in the face of these challenges. The group has committed to patrolling the streets surrounding the church at least three times a week, primarily during the evening hours, in an effort to provide a sense of security and community solidarity.

“Two individuals got killed there, and we just decided it’s too close to the church. Enough is enough. We can’t allow it no more. that was the tipping point,” Burke told Fox 61.

This initiative has received mixed reactions from the local community. Some residents, like Berline Francois, who grew up in the area, welcome the involvement of community members in crime prevention efforts, emphasizing the importance of collective action over sole reliance on police intervention.

However, the approach of conducting armed patrols by non-law enforcement individuals has drawn criticism from the usual organizations, such as Mothers United Against Violence, and typical city officials, including Hartford Mayor Arunan Arulampalam. The mayor expressed concerns about introducing more guns into the community, emphasizing the need for healing and collaboration rather than potentially escalating tensions with armed patrols. He highlighted the community’s fatigue with external groups bringing firearms into their neighborhoods and stressed the importance of unity and healing in addressing the city’s trauma.

“We are a community that face such trauma that is trying to work together to heal, and we need all of our leaders everybody who really cares about the city to come together and try to heal as a community, not to inflict more violence not to bring more weapons into this community,” Arulampalam told the news station.

Cornell Lewis, the founder of the Self-Defense Brigade, clarified their stance in response to criticisms, stating that their group does not operate as vigilantes. He underscored their commitment to organized, disciplined and legal security measures, including training in hand-to-hand combat, to ensure the safety and well-being of the neighborhood in a structured and lawful manner.

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