Naugatuck Students Protest Following Racist Statements From Police Chief’s Daughter

Molly Ingram

Students at Naugatuck High School (NHS) participated in walkouts and rallies this week after photos of a student captioned with racist remarks were made public.

The student in question is the daughter of Naugatuck Police Chief, Steven Hunt, and Naugatuck High School Assistant Principal, Joanna Hunt. The content of the messages, paired with the student’s relationships with town officials, has sparked fear and outrage amongst the Naugatuck community.

Naugatuck High School sophomore, Ayana Williams, spoke out about the current climate at school.

“Overall the black community (and their allies) are outraged,” Williams said. “The posts are threatening and make the black students at Naugatuck feel unsafe, unvalued and uncomfortable.”

Students immediately began planning events to denounce racism in their community and show support for their black peers. Williams said that the events have facilitated “more conversation about these issues with white students as well as teachers.”

“In our library, for two days we had an open forum where students were able to speak publicly to the principal as well as the superintendent,” Williams said. “The students are angry and I feel like this did give white students more of a look into the struggles that the black community faces.”

However, there were members of the Naugatuck community who were not supportive of the students efforts to denounce their classmate’s actions.

Naugatuck High School senior, Alexis Siggars, said that there were two groups of people when the racist statements were made public.

“[There was] a side who was supportive and empathetic and then a side that wants to label us as ‘rebellious’ and ‘overreacting’ while ignoring the racial slurs and threats bestowed upon the black community,” Siggars said.

The main goal of the community action events was to spread awareness about the injustices that people of color continuously face. Many community members additionally called for the replacement of the assistant principal and police chief.

The messages posted by the daughter of high ranked members of the Naugatuck community have led some black students to fear for their safety in and out of school.

“Children are not born racist, racism is taught,” Williams said. “If Mrs. Hunt continues to represent NHS, our black students will not feel safe. Community-wide, I think that Chief Hunt should step down from his position as well.”

In speeches made during the rallies, students also expressed their disappointment with their school’s current curriculum. Siggars said she envisions “a curriculum that includes more than just slavery for our black ancestors.”

Besides the curriculum, Williams also pleaded for, “black staff in our schools, to hire black leaders in our community, to implement a no-tolerance policy for racism/hate speech and teach empathy in school at a young age so that students understand the power of their words and how much they can hurt people when used wrongfully.”