A Connecticut mayor said her city’s police officers were in the middle of their annual back-to-school supply drive when a Target manager turned them away because “he doesn’t support the police.”
New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart tweeted her accusation Tuesday.
Stewart also asked, “Anyone want to make a donation?”
New Britain police last week said they wanted to stuff a few of their cruisers with school supplies to help city children and families before the new school year commences, WSFB-TV reported,
New Britain’s Fire Chief Raul Ortiz threw in his support in response to Stewart’s tweet: “I’ll donate. That is unbelievable. Isn’t community policing and involvement what we want more of? Our NBPD has been exceptional in that aspect.”
Target’s regional manager “made a personal $500 donation for supplies and apologized for what happened,” the mayor added minutes after her first tweet.
And several hours later, Stewart posted a follow-up saying Target is “letting PD go back this weekend for collection drive and has placed a donation bin in the store, too.”
The following day Target responded on Twitter: “We have a long history of supporting the New Britain community, and we’re sorry for the misunderstanding. We’ve talked with police, and they’re returning to our store this weekend for their back-to-school drive. In addition, Target’s donating school supplies to support the efforts.”
Also on Wednesday, New Britain spokesman Edward Ford told WSFB “the past 24 hours we’ve seen a tremendous amount of support from the community for the police department’s back to school drive.”
Numerous business employees over the last several years have refused to serve police in headline-grabbing style. The severity of service employees’ anti-cop behavior seems to have ramped up since George Floyd’s death in late May.
Timothy Conaway starting the fundraiser nearly seven years ago in partnership with the police department, WTIC-TV reported, and he said when he showed up Saturday morning at the Target with two officers they were asked to leave.
“I told him I was here last year, and he didn’t agree or believe me, and he told us to leave,” Conaway added to the station. “Officers were looking like, ‘You really want us to leave?’ And he said yes.”
Jovanka Segura — a volunteer with Conaway — told WTIC the manager was rude but doesn’t recall being turned away for police-related reasons.
“I didn’t specifically hear anything like that,” she noted to WTIC. “I just know that the manager was resisting trying to have us set up.”
Conaway told the station he’s hopeful the reschedule back-to-school supply drive will still be a success: “We don’t know what’s going to happen with school, how many days are going to be gone, but everybody is in need right now.”
Drive organizers will be at the New Britain Target from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. this Saturday and Sunday, WTIC said, adding that Conaway’s organization will be giving out the school supplies Aug. 22 at Blaze Barbershop along West Main Street.
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