Community Bulletin Board
- Habitat for Humanity Announces New Director
- Food Network Winners Champion 'Dora's Hope'
- Miracle on 34th Street at Thomaston Opera House
- “Click It Or Ticket” for Seat Belt Use
- New Opportunities Inc. Toy Drive
- Palace Theater Announces December Shows
- Dr. Lavoie Speaks at Forman School
- NVCC Nursing Class Earns Top Marks
- Discovery Friday at Barnes & Noble
- Students Learn from 'Iron Chef' Competition
- Area Resident on 'Gift of Adoption' Nat'l Board
- Swedish Music and Culture at Gunn Library
Cicero Booker Sr.
At the end of his speech tonight Vernon Riddick Jr. was overwhelmed by history.
By John Murray
It was a dramatic evening inside the Palace Theater tonight as Vernon Riddick Jr. was sworn in as the 21st police chief in Waterbury history, and become the first African-American to lead the department.
Cicero Booker Jr. had to sue the City of Waterbury in federal court in 1981 to shatter the glass ceiling that had kept black police officers from getting promotions inside the Waterbury Police Department.
Photographs By John Murray
Editor’s note - Black police officers faced systemic racism inside the Waterbury Police Department and were by-passed for promotion until Cicero Booker Jr. (middle) filed a lawsuit in 1981. The struggle for equality took decades and the powerful story was shared February 16th at the PAL Learning Center. In addition to Booker (who retired as a lieutenant), the panelists included retired Lt. Sam Beamon, right, and retired Waterbury Assistant Deputy Chief – and current Chief of the Strafford Police Department – Patrick Ridenhour. The moderator was current Deputy Police Chief Vernon Riddick. It was compelling night filled with dramatic testimony and The Waterbury Observer recorded and transcribed the event for our readers. The entire community of Waterbury owes these men a debt of gratitude. In addition to serving and protecting the city against criminals, they battled through bigotry inside the Waterbury PD to help transform the city into a more decent and humane place to live. Thank you.
Vernon Riddick: I was asked a few weeks ago at an NAACP meeting if the Police Department, or PAL, were doing anything for Black History Month. I said I don’t think we are, and I don’t think we have done anything in the past. We brainstormed together and we came up with the idea about documenting the history of the African American police officers in the City of Waterbury. We thought it would be very interesting and be an engaging topic that we think everybody would get something out of it.