Protest Targets Newspaper for Alleged Bias

Robyn Adams, Republican-American (Waterbury, Conn), Dec. 11, 2005

WATERBURY—About 40 people, mostly Hispanic, protested in front of the Republican-American on Saturday over what they said were biased editorials and articles.

Several people held placards and small flags of Puerto Rico during the nearly hourlong showing.

“We demand an apology for racist comments in editorials and commentary,” said Jeffrey Rodriguez, his voice amplified through a bull horn.

Rodriguez, of Latinos in Action, said Hispanics took exception to a wire story published recently on drug trafficking in Puerto Rico that gave the impression Puerto Ricans were drug addicts.

“Every community has them,” Rodriguez said. “We were very offended by that.”

Last week, media around the state received e-mailed news releases from James Griffin, president of the Greater Waterbury NAACP, about the protest.

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Jorge Irizarry said Latinos In Action sought the NAACP’s support and Griffin accepted.

Griffin has been at odds with newspaper editorials over proposals to change Waterbury’s system of electing aldermen to one in which aldermen would be elected by district.

Such a system, which Griffin favors, would improve the chances of minorities being elected to the Board of Aldermen.

The Dec. 4 Sunday Republican included a column by Griffin promoting election of aldermen by district and criticizing a Nov. 26 Republican-American editorial, “Hispanics need to get involved,” which he said was offensive to Hispanics.

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Oscar Nieves, owner of WPRX radio in Hartford, and a Waterbury resident, stood with Ramirez. Nieves said the article that portrayed Puerto Ricans as big drug users put the wrong light on his people.

When told it was a wire story, Nieves responded: “Why put something like that in the paper? If you don’t know the people or the island, you cannot do that.”

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