STRATFORD ó Councilman James Feehan, R-10, shocked everyone at a Town Council meeting this week when he called on two members of a white supremacist group to stand up because he “wanted to put a face on hatred.”
Feehan said he noticed the two members of the “White Wolves” group sitting in the back of the room throughout the council meeting, making faces and shaking their heads as local residents and state and local officials spoke in favor of a council resolution to embrace diversity.
“I give them credit for standing up at the meeting, but not for their hateful beliefs,” said Feehan, of the unidentified menís decision to rise. “I wanted the nearly 100 people in the room to see who these hatemongers are.”
The confrontation occurred following comments to the council in support of the diversity resolution by Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, Chief Stateís Attorney Chris Morano and leaders of the stateís Anti-Defamation League and NAACP.
The resolution the council approved includes a $5,000 reward to any citizens who provide information leading to the arrest and prosecution of anyone who commits a bias or hate crime.
Members of the White Wolves have allegedly been involved in a number of bias and hate crimes in Stratford, Trumbull and other communities over the past few months.
“The last thing I thought they would do was stand up, but they did, and while it shows how bold they are, it also gives people a glimpse of who some of these people are and what they look like,” said Feehan.
Local police and outside authorities “are already watching them closely, now some residents can keep an eye on them, too.”
Feehan said when the two stood up he did, too, because he thought it “was only fair for them to have a chance to face their accuser, and say something if they had chosen to.”
The two men, however, folded their arms and said nothing, according to Feehan.
Town Council Chairman Robert Calzone, D-At-large, said the room became tense during the brief confrontation.
“You could cut the tension in the room with a knife; it was really kind of unbelievable,” said Calzone. “On one hand, itís good that people had a chance to see who they are. On the other hand, itís amazingly brazen for them to be willing to stand up like that.”
Calzone said extra uniformed police and plainclothes officers were present “just in case things got out of hand. We had a feeling (group members) would be there, and we were taking no chances.”
Blumenthal said he came to Stratford Tuesday to lend his “strong and overwhelming support” to the council resolution.
A White Wolves member was arrested last month for what police termed a racially motivated attack on three teens in Trumbull.
In May, Matthew V. Zrallack, 18, a member of the White Wolves, was arrested after he allegedly led a disturbance against a gay-lesbian group meeting at the Stratford Library.
Zrallack, of 243 Roosevelt Ave., was also one of two former Stratford High School students involved in a highly controversial incident last year, when they allegedly gave the stiff-armed Nazi salute that appeared in a photograph in their 2002 yearbook, police said.
Zrallack could not be reached for comment.