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State Senator

Julie Kushner

Representing Bethel, Danbury, New Fairfield, Sherman

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Sen. Kushner Joins Bipartisan Plan to Secure State Bonding for Synagogue, Mosque and Church Security 

Rash of state, national and international incidents prompts concern for safety of CT congregants

HARTFORD – State Senator Julie Kushner (D-Danbury) joined a bipartisan group of legislators and faith leaders today to propose setting aside $5 million in the upcoming state bond package to help the congregants of Connecticut synagogues, mosques and churches remain more secure from domestic hate groups by installing various security measures such as remote door entry systems, video monitoring systems, and shatter-proof windows – the same type of improvements the state offered public schools in the wake of the 2012 Sandy Hook shootings.

Sen. Kushner spoke today with Jewish, Muslim, and Christian faith leaders and Democratic and Republican legislators, all of whom who support the houses of worship security bonding plan.

“No longer are we personally immune to the effects of religious hate crimes, even those that take place on the other side of the country. The victim in the recent California synagogue shooting was the cousin of my neighbor in Danbury,” Sen. Kushner said. “This bonding for security improvements at Connecticut houses of worship is an important step, and a necessary step, but it should also be just a step in our broader conversation to reach out to and speak with one another on these matters. We need to stand strong and be fearless, both here in Connecticut and across the country, in the face of hate.”

Today’s announcement comes after several high-profile incidents at Connecticut mosques and synagogues, including – most recently – last Sunday’s arson at the Diyanet Mosque in New Haven.

In late March 2019 – two weeks after a white supremacist killed 51 people in a New Zealand mosque shooting – a person threatened to burn down the Muhammad Islamic Center of Greater Hartford, and disparaged its members with racist and homophobic epithets. In December 2016 the New Haven Islamic Center received a letter calling Muslims “vile and filthy people.” The letter was addressed to “the children of Satan” and signed “Americans for a Better Way.”

In November 2015 – the same month a terrorist attack in Paris killed 130 people – a man fired four rifle shots into the Baitul Aman Mosque in Meriden.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, there were 39 anti-Semitic incidents in Connecticut in 2018, including 19 instances of harassment, 19 acts of vandalism, and one assault. That is lower than the 49 total acts in 2017, but higher than the 38 acts in 2016 and the 26 acts in 2015.

In January 2017, as part of a nation-wide hoax, bomb threats were called in to Jewish Community Centers in West Hartford and Woodbridge.

The houses of worship security bonding plan would be written into the 2019 state bonding bill, Senate Bill 876, final details of which are still being negotiated. 

The houses of worship security bonding plan would generally follow the same format as Public Act 13-3, which established the School Security Competitive Grant Program to assist public and non-public schools in improving their security infrastructure. In that instance, community leaders, emergency management directors, educational professionals and emergency responders developed comprehensive school security plans that were reviewed and approved by the state Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security.

Common school security upgrades funded under that program include electronic door locks, window film, card access control systems, six-foot high or higher fencing, traffic control bollards, lighting, office reconfiguration, surveillance cameras, video archiving systems, panic buttons, door replacement, and intercom/phone systems.

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