Protesters Keep Pressure on Connecticut Police Following Deaths of Black Women

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A march of protesters winding through a city in Connecticut on Saturday demanded policing and government reforms following the deaths of two Black women.

Hundreds of demonstrators marched as part of the Black Women Speak rally, where a large crowd of mostly Black women gathered in downtown Bridgeport to call for change within the city's administration.

The calls for change come more than two months after the deaths of Lauren Smith-Fields and Brenda Lee Rawls -- both died on Dec. 12.

While their cases are unrelated, their families claim Bridgeport Police mishandled evidence, failed to notify them about their deaths, and treated them with disregard.

"The police department does not care about me and you, and especially Black women," Gemeem Davis, president of Bridgeport Generation Now Votes, said to the group rallying Saturday.

"So we got receipts Ganim, and we are gonna hold you accountable," she said, delivering a message directly to the city's mayor.

The group's demands for justice call for a transparent search for police chief, expediting implementation of the city's mobile crisis intervention team, support of an investigation by the Justice Department, formation of a legislative task force, in addition to accountability by Mayor Joe Ganim.

Police are investigating the death of Lauren Smith-Fields, a Black woman who was killed after a date on Bumble in December 2021. Darnell Crosland, an attorney for Smith-Fields' family, says police in Bridgeport, Connecticut failed to secure the crime scene and told family the date, who has not been charged, was "a nice guy." "We feel that he's not a person of interest because Lauren has no value in their view," Crosland said.

The families of both women are calling for a federal investigation, as did the NAACP, which is calling on state lawmakers to launch a task force.

Two officers from the department who were involved in the initial investigations of each death were placed on administrative leave late last month.

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