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Hundreds Rally at UConn After LGBT Art Vandalized


Hundreds of UConn students attended a rally on campus Tuesday in response to hateful vandalism found on an art exhibit featuring the faces and voices of young people in the LGBTQ community last month, according to students organizing an event to stand against discrimination and hate speech and promote acceptance.

Vandalism found on an art exhibit "Speaking OUT: Queer Youth In Focus" by non-student Philadelphia artist Rachelle Lee Smith was reported on March 6, according to the UConn Daily Campus. Drawings, some phallic, were scrawled on the exhibit photos featuring queer individuals speaking out about their experiences and a vandal wrote in the guest book, "god hates the gays," as shown in photos from the artist published in phillymag.com.

The vandalism, which happened a floor away from the Rainbow Center, was the "final straw" for students of the UConn Speak OUT initiative.

"The University of Connecticut is ready to speak OUT," Michelle Ma, a representative for UConn Speak OUT, wrote to NBC Connecticut on Monday. "Despite being listed time and time again among the top 100 gay-friendly universities, discrimination is still a harsh reality for students of many different gender alignments and sexuality. Every day, small acts of hate threaten their safety and silence them from being open about their experiences."

The artist wrote to NBC Connecticut that she "felt really sad for the students on campus who had their safe space jeapardized" so close to the Rainbow Center.

"I encourage any dialogue and conversation that this act of vandalism encourages. The event was upsetting on many levels from disrespect of artwork to cowardice and hatred. It is an unfortunate reminder of why I do the work I do and why places like the Rainbow Center at UConn exists," Smith said. "But the silver lining is that the community has responded and been responding and uniting together. They are not being silenced and they are speaking out together as one community."

She couldn't attend the rally, but provided the students with a statement so she contribute and said she wish she could have been there.

"Although this specific vandalism happened to my work, it really happened to all of us. It was one act of cowardice immature hate, but this is just one example of the many prejudice, fearful, and hateful acts that happen regularly on campuses and around our country.The response and the unity shown by students, staff, and faculty at UConn has been the exact opposite of the vandalizer. Together we are stronger and more powerful," Smith said in the statement. "I wish the the artwork was not drawn on. I wish that the person did not mis-quote god, and hide his/her hatred behind god. I hope for a day when that does not happen.
but because it did, we get to come together as a community regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, size, etc and create the dialogue needed to express that we are all equal and we will not be silent.... we will continue to Speak OUT!"

She continued to say in the statement that she would love to see the campaign reach mainstream media and spread to campuses nationwide.

"I think what you are doing is very powerful," she wrote to the students in the statement. "Keep up the good work and thank you for reminding us that, while we still have work to do, it's looking bright and positive and united."

UConn President Susan Herbst and Fleurette King, director of the Rainbow Center at UConn, said that they stand behind the students in making the campus welcoming to all.

“UConn takes great pride in its LGBTQ community, as we take pride in all of our students, and we strive every day to ensure our campuses are safe and welcoming for every member of our diverse community," Herbst and King said in a joint statement Tuesday. "That effort is in constant motion, and our work is never truly finished. Today, we join all those speaking out in support of our amazing students and our shared vision for our university.”

UConn Speak OUT organizers launched a social media photo campaign with the social media hashtag #UConnSpeakOUT to raise awareness about the rally and at least 500 replied on the group's Facebook page to say they wuold attend. The students seek to give the UConn community and its LGBT individuals a safe space to "inspire others to fight hate speech."

The vandalism that sparked the movement was found on Smith's art exhibit, "Speaking OUT: Queer Youth In Focus," a "collaboration photographic essay" between her as a photographer and activist and "a diverse group of LGBTQ youth to share experiences" with the hope of highlighting "the myriad differences and commonalities of queer identity" to "spread knowledge and understanding," according to Smith's Facebook page about the project.

"To the untrained eye, this seems like an isolated incident and went largely unpublicized," Ma said. "However for students who saw themselves reflected in the art, this was just another blow for acceptance."

The students occupied the theater room in the student union at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday to hear poets, speakers and campus authority figures speak about related subjects.

"This institution claims to be 'friendly' and yet so many students feel threatened here," Ma said Monday. "Even worse, hate speech is not a phenomenon that is limited to Storrs. This is an injustice and we are going to speak OUT about it."

UConn learned of the incident on March 6, according to school spokesperson Stephanie Reitz.

"The police investigation remains active, and we’re encouraging anyone with information to report it to UConn Police. It’s very important to us that everyone at the University, particularly in the LGBTQ community, know that we are taking this incident extremely seriously," Reitz said.

"We’re committed to campuses that are free of this kind of intolerance and bias, and hope people will come forward with any information that can help us locate the person or people responsible and hold them accountable."

Photo Credit: Rachelle Lee Smith (Originally Published in phillymag.com)

Ballpark Construction Prompts Road Closures in Hartford


Hartford is alerting drivers of road closures in the city as construction gets underway on the new Downtown North development and ballpark.

Trumbull Street will close between Main Street and Market Street from April 17 until about Sept. 4, according to city officials. That section of Trumbull Street will be redesigned to accommodate the new baseball stadium.

Windsor Street will close permanently between Pleasant and Trumbull streets. It will be used first as a construction staging area and will then be turned into the "Windsor Walk," which will include pedestrian and bicycle lanes.

Stonington Police Seek Bank Robber


Police in Stonington are searching for the man who robbed a local bank at gunpoint Tuesday afternoon.

The suspect walked into the Dime Savings Bank at 1 Cannon Square around 1:45 p.m. Tuesday, pulled out a handgun and demanded money from a teller, according to police.

He got away with an undisclosed amouint of cash.

Police said the robber stands between 5 feet 5 and 5 feet 8 inches tall and has a medium or stocky building and gray goatee. He was wearing a dark-colored stocking cap, dark hooded sweatshirt and light gray shirt underneath.

Anyone with information is urged to call Stonington police at 860-599-4411.

Photo Credit: Stonington Police Department

5 Firefighters Arrested in Assault


A group of volunteer firefighters were arrested Monday night in connection with an alleged sexual assault.

A man — whose identity was not released because he is a sexual assault victim — filed the complaint March 31, stating that five fellow firefighters held him down at the Emergency Service District No. 6 fire station, pulled his pants down and, while laughing and yelling, sexually assaulted him multiple times with multiple instruments on Jan. 20.

The allegation is outlined in graphic detail in the link below.

• WARNING: Graphic Account of Firefighter's Sexual Assault

Texas Department of Public Safety Sgt. Lonny Haschel said 26-year-old Keith Wisakowsky, 30-year-old Casey Stafford, 19-year-old Preston Peyrot, 28-year-old Alec Miller and 19-year-old Blake Tucker were arrested and charged with aggravated sexual assault.

A sixth person, 23-year-old Brittany Leanne Parten, recorded the incident and was arrested for improper photography, according to Haschel.

The affidavit stated that all those arrested could be seen and heard yelling and laughing during the incident.

Online jail records show at 4:30 p.m. that five of the six accused had been released; Stafford remained in custody, held on $75,000 bond.

According to The Associated Press, the department's Facebook page listed Miller as 2014 officer of the year.

Authorities said the Texas Rangers are investigating the incident.

Ellis County Judge Carol Bush released the following statement regarding the incident:

NBC 5's Ellen Bryan, Frank Heinz and Jocelyn Lockwood contributed to this report.

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Bear Gets Into Home, Eats Candy


A sweet toothed black bear who broke into a southwest Florida home and gobbled up a family's Easter candy tried coming back the next day for more, NBC affiliate WBBH reports.

Estero resident Caroline Tidwell told WBBH she awoke early Friday to what sounded like Venetian blinds coming off the track, then heard the sounds of furniture moving around.

What she was hearing were the sounds of a 300 to 400 pound black bear that had gotten into the house.

"He was making slobbering noises and bear noises," Tidwell said.

Tidwell feared the bear may have been eating her cats. The feline family pets were completely safe, but the chocolate treats held in a dish in the living room were not, as Tidwell found the sweet toothed bear going to town on the candy.

Tidwell called 911 and was able to scare the bear away, but only for a day. The following morning, the bear returned and she and her husband banged loudly on pots and pans and managed to scare the bear off.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission tells WBBH that black bear sightings are common this time of year in certain parts of Florida.

The bears are quite hungry and will make a meal of just about anything they can find, including sweets and chocolate, FWC says.

The FWC has proposed that bear hunting be legalized again in an effort to curb Florida's growing population and to lessen the chances of dangerous interactions between bears and humans.

Photo Credit: WBBH

New London Lighthouse Featured on National Geographic


New London’s Race Rock Lighthouse will make an appearance on National Geographic this Friday.

The lighthouse will be featured as a historic landmark on National Geographic Channel’s “THE WATCH,” a new series that premiers Friday, April 9 at 10 p.m.

The New London Maritime Society acquired the lighthouse from the federal government in 2013.

It’s one of four places being used in the series, which was filmed in August 2014 and documents the lives of four people living in separate remote locations.

Brooks, a resident of New London, will be refurbishing and restoring Rack Rock Lighthouse. Viewers will get to see his entire journey recreating the landmark.

Photo Credit: Flickr Vision

UConn Fans Hope for Big Win and 10th National Title


One of the most fascinating things about the UConn women's basketball team is that it's captured the hearts of fans who haven't been in a classroom in decades but just love the Huskies.

The most devoted fans travel behind the team to watch the NCAA finals, but many people who have stayed at home have been watching UConn win since the team's first title in 1995.

"Oh yeah, Rebecca Lobo, all of 'em, it's just Husky Nation," said Mary Ellen Eddy. "And the women Huskies, I hate to say it, are better than the men. The track record's proved it."

"And not only that," said her friend, Edie Rood, "but to that other coach that said people are getting tired of it, no we're not!"

That other coach, Brenda Frese, brought Maryland to defeat at the hands of UConn on Sunday. The UConn fans love seeing victory after victory on TV and expect another title, the team's 10th, tonight.

"Of course they're going to win," said Joan Donahue. "They're awesome, they're amazing, they're an unbelievable team."

"The girls have a reputation for being the best team in the country and I think they're going to pull some magic tonight and they're going to win big, by 30," predicted Herschel Tyler.

On campus, UConn is hosting a game watch at Gampel Pavilion. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. ahead of the game's 8:30 tip off.

Casino Gun-Firing Suspect Arrested


Police say they've arrested a man suspected of firing a gun in the parking lot of a Queens casino at the same time dozens of people were attacking each other in a food court brawl there.

Authorities found no one who had been injured by the gunfire, but used surveillance footage to track the suspect's movements, police said. The NYPD's Facial Recognition Unit identified him as 22-year-old Jaquan Roberts, police said.

Roberts, of Brooklyn, was arrested on charges of assault, criminal possession of a weapon and reckless endangerment. It wasn't immediately clear if he had a lawyer.

The 911 call reporting gunfire in the parking lot of Resorts World Casino last Friday night came in at the same time as a number of 911 calls reporting a massive brawl.

Police responding to the casino found dozens of people throwing punches and hurling chairs, authorities said.

Three people were arrested and many more suffered minor injuries in the free-for-all, police said. One officer suffered a hand injury.

Police say hundreds of people watched and dozens participated.

A witness told NBC 4 New York that the melee started when two people argued about their place in line at a new Fat Tuesday daiquiri stand in the casino.

One of the arrested men was given a summons for disorderly conduct and released. Two others had previous warrants and were arrested on charges of disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and obstructing governmental administration.

A Resorts World Casino spokesman said in a statement that the casino's security had responded to the fight and worked to get it under control.

"The safety of our patrons is Resorts World's top priority, and there is absolutely no room for this kind of behavior at our facility," the statement said. "We are reviewing all aspects of this unfortunate event and are fully committed to taking steps to ensure similar acts do not take place ever again."

Women Invade Plainfield Home, Hurt Resident: Cops


A woman suffered minor injuries after two women invaded her home in the Moosup Village section of Plainfield overnight and police are searching for the intruders, police said

A resident of Pond Hill Road told police she answered her door around midnight on Monday after hearing a knock and two women barged inside.

One of the women held the victim down as the other stole some of her belongings, police said.

The victim suffered minor injuries but refused medical treatment, police said.

A state police K9 unit searched for the intruders, who police think ran from to a getaway car in on or near Snake Meadow and Pond Hill roads.

Police said both female robbers were wearing hooded sweatshirts and dark clothes. One was likely 40 to 50 years old and weighed about 170 to 190 pounds.

The other was likely between 20 and 30 years old and weighed about 130 to 140 pounds, according to police.

Plainfield police ask anyone with information to call the department at 860-564-0804 or to call the anonymous tip line at 860-564-7065.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Experts Warn Against Feeding Bears for Better Photos


State environmental officials want to get a message to anyone who is using food to lure bears just so they can take better pictures: it will lead to bigger problems.

"Certainly don't put out food purposely to attract bears because that leads to bolder bears," wildlife biologist Paul Rego, of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said.

Rego said bolder bears might have to be killed if they become nuisances and exhibit behavior including breaking into homes to get food.

Giving bears food is the first step on a slippery slope, he said.

“That leads to bears being bold around humans and spending more time around homes. That can just lead to bear problems – bears in traffic, bears finding chicken coops, bears attacking pets near homes," Rego said.

Most of Connecticut is Bear Country, with more than 4,000 bear sightings in the last year.

Wolcott and Plainville are two communities that saw bears go through on Monday.

"I was very surprised to see a bear walking in someone's driveway, with little kids," Jayden Lococo said about the bear he saw near Ledge Road in Plainville. "But it was cool."

Denise English, of Bristol, is an old hand with bears.

"We ignore them," she said, "We just let them do what they have to do, keep the bird feeders gone and all. You have to respect them."

You can report bear sightings to the Wildlife Division online or by calling 860-675-8130.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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90 Connecticut Soldiers Deploy to Kosovo


Ninety soldiers left Windsor Locks today for Kosovo, where they'll provide aerial medical evacuation, transportation support and fuel testing, according to the Connecticut Army National Guard.

The 1-169 General Support Aviation Battalion is the third local unit to be mobilized in six weeks, bringing the number of deployed Connecticut soldiers to 185.

Prospect resident Lt. Col. Jeffrey LaPierre will command the unit, which will serve alongside soldiers from California and Florida, according to the National Guard.

"Our aviation assets play a crucial role in operations both here in Connecticut as well as overseas," said Maj. Gen. Thaddeus J. Martin, commanding officer of the Connecticut National Guard. "Working together with units from the other components of the Army is a great opportunity to build relationships and gain valuable experience."

The battalion departed following a send-off ceremony Tuesday evening at the Army Aviation Support Facility in Windsor Locks.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Hartford Officers Visit Children's Hospital


Hartford officers who patrol some of the city's roughest neighborhoods spent time Tuesday walking "the Toughest Beat," visiting patients on three floors at Connecticut Children's Medical Center.

They joked with the children, answered questions and handed out toy police cars.

Twenty-year-old New Britain resident N’Kaibrya Jennings was among the patients they visited. Jennings she is in the hospital for treatment of sickle cell disease.

"I feel like this is a good way for them to interact with certain kids who have disabilities, diseases, get more involved in the community. I appreciated that," said Jennings.

The visits make a big difference to the children, according to Kelly Foy, a child life specialist at Connecticut Children’s.

"They come to the hospital not feeling great and anything we can do to help bring their spirits back up, like these special visits where they come in and they’re able to bring that community back into the hospital, is really awesome," said Foy.

It's the second visit from Hartford police walking "the Toughest Beat."

"You take a walk around the floor here and you realize what we’re doing out there is a little easier than some of the things the kids are going through here," said Deputy Chief Brian Foley of the Hartford Police Department.

Police plan to continue their visits at Connecticut Children’s four times a year.

"That shows a lot from officers to take time out of their day to come visit kids in the hospital," said Jennings.

City Leader Takes Owner to Task Over Baseball Team Name


It may have all been in good fun, but according to one Hartford city leader, the naming of the Capitol's new minor league baseball franchise was not in good taste.

Hartford Treasurer Adam Cloud, sits on the board of the Hartford Stadium Authority, which oversees construction of the team’s new multi-million-dollar ballpark.

He took exception to the new team name "Yard Goats" and shared his criticisms with a member of the team’s ownership group Tuesday afternoon during the Authority’s third meeting since its inception.

Moments before Cloud made his feelings known, Josh Solomon, of the Yard Goats ownership group, told authority members more than 30,000 people cast ballots as part of the naming contest, creating a tidal wave of awareness about the team's move to Hartford and its new name.

Solomon said, "it’s not a traditional name" and that "creative, unique, and funky" names have worked in other markets to engage the public, including many fans who at least initially did not have an interest in baseball.

Cloud, however, said the name is "neither creative, or unique," and even used the word "absurd" to describe the new name of the current Rock Cats.

Cloud said "Yard Goats" is insensitive to people in the city’s Caribbean community, many of whom at one time or another may have owned or tended goats.

He noted that even though the term "Yard Goats" actually refers to something in a railroad yard, its connection and tie to Hartford is "minimal at best," saying he was "shocked to learn that was the name" and is "not pleased at all."

Solomon responded during the meeting that it was not the group's "intention to offend."

After the meeting, the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters asked Solomon if he had anything else to say about Cloud’s comments.

He said "people are passionate" about sports and team names, and this name is "really about engaging kids, and the engagement in the naming process produced a buzz that was palpable in Hartford" when people voted in favor of the Yard Goats.

"He has a right to his opinion," Solomon said of Cloud. "We feel very comfortable with the selection of the name. ... It will not impact the relationship with [Adam] Cloud. It’s good to see people passionate about the name. ... We fully expected to receive some flack about it."

Solomon told the Hartford Stadium Authority the team expects to unveil a logo in 35 to 40 days.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Dad-to-Be Killed Over Cash, Box of Cigars: Cops


A Connecticut father-to-be was shot and killed by two gunmen who stole cash and a box of cigars during a robbery at a New Haven gas station where he worked as a clerk, New Haven police said.

Sanjay Patel, 39, would have been a first-time father in just three months. He and his wife, Bhavana "B" Chavada, had been trying to have a child for 10 years.

"My heart is broken already," she Chavada.

Patel was shot during a robbery at the Pay Rite Food Store at the Citgo station on Forbes Avenue around 7:30 p.m. ET on Monday.

Police said one gunman shot Patel four times. The other shot him more than once and Patel died at the hospital, according to police.

His wife spent the night in the hospital as a precaution because she was in shock.

With no other family members nearby, Chavada's friends are now staying with her around the clock to make sure she is OK.

This is the second tragic event the family has gone through in the last year and a half. 

In January 2014, Chavada was burned in an explosion on Farren Avenue and had to be hospitalized and receive skin grafts on her hands.

"She couldn’t eat, she couldn’t talk, because it was all (smoke) inhalation," Slesha Desai, a friend, said.

Witnesses to the crime last night in New Haven reported seeing two masked men running from the scene southbound on Fulton Terrace.

"We're looking for two people that may be involved," said New Haven police spokesman Officer David Hartman. "We don't necessarily believe that two were firing guns. We know at least one was."

On Tuesday afternoon, police said one of the robbers was masked and wearing black gloves, a light gray hooded sweatshirt with "Jordan" on the left sleeve and sneakers. He shot the victim with a revolver, police said.

The other robber was also masked and wore gloves. He was wearing a darker gray or darker blue sweatshirt with words on the front, dark or black pants and all or mainly white sneakers. He shot the victim with a semi-automatic handgun, police said.

The owner of the gas station and businesses nearby are shocked by the crime.

“For a couple hundred dollars, they took one human life away,” Raj Ali, the owner of the gas station, said. “It’s not worth it. It’s bad.” 

Danny Scarpellino, who owns Scarpellino’s Restaurant across from the gas station, said he is in shock over what happened to Patel and called his death a tragedy.  

“It’s a tragedy … for money,” he said. “Go in a store and shoot a guy like that? For what reason?”

No funeral plans have been set.

Police are asking anyone with information to come forward and call police at 203-946-6304.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Snowden Projection Appears in Park


An eerie projection of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden appeared on a war monument in Brooklyn's Fort Greene Park early Tuesday, hours after a large bronze bust of the ex-CIA worker that had been affixed to the statue overnight was removed by police and parks crews.

The projection of the 4-foot bust illuminated the sky before dawn, hovering over the same monument pillar where an anonymous artists' group had erected the 100-pound sculpture the night before. The word "Snowden" glowed at the bottom of the statue at the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument, where the name had been adhered before it was removed Monday afternoon.

The Illuminator Art Collective, the mission of which is to "smash the myths of the information industry and shine a light on the urgent issues of our time," according to its website, recreated the bust "ephemerally by projecting an image of the sculpture in a cloud of smoke," its Facebook page said.

"The Parks Department and NYPD censored the work by placing a large tarp over Snowden's epitaph, so that while they worked to remove the artwork it remained concealed to the public," the Illuminator Art Collective wrote on Facebook. "Our feeling is that while the State may remove any material artifacts that speak in defiance against incumbent authoritarianism, the acts of resistance remain in the public consciousness. And it is in sharing that act of defiance that hope resides."

The group and some neighborhood advocates are calling for a community-based process to determine what happens to the bronze bust. The installation was captured on video; it showed several people in construction gear carting the bust into the park, then using a scaffold to hoist it to the top of the pillar. The anonymous artists who put it there told Animal New York it cost thousands of dollars to make and that they made a mold so they could create more Snowden effigies.

The NYPD says its intelligence division is looking into the statue and will be looking for DNA and other clues that may lead to arrests. It's not clear what charges could be filed in the case.

The Prison Ship Martyrs Monument is a centerpiece of Fort Greene Park and marks the burial sites of more than 11,500 men and women who died aboard British prison ships during the Revolutionary War. 

Photo Credit: Kyle Depew/ The Illuminator Art Collective

Candidate Collapses During Debate


Philadelphia Mayoral candidate Lynne Abraham is recovering after a scary moment during Tuesday night’s mayoral debate.

The former Philly District Attorney collapsed as State Senator Anthony Hardy Williams answered questions.

"I was on a riser," Abraham said during a press conference. "I leaned over to look at Tony and the lights went out."

Abraham quickly regained consciousness and was helped to her feet and taken off stage. A doctor checked out Abraham and told NBC10 she was going to be okay. She did not return for the rest of the debate.

"I believe I just had a sudden drop in blood pressure," Abraham said.

Abraham was in a good mood when addressing the media after the scary moment. She insisted she was fine and that nothing like that had ever happened to her before.

"It just happened at an inopportune time," Abraham said. "It's a little bit embarrassing but I fell gracefully. I didn't hurt anything. I'm fine."

Despite missing most of the debate, Abraham received a tremendous amount of support from viewers. In a poll asking which Democratic Philly Mayoral candidate might get their vote after the debate, 54% of participants voted for Abraham.

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Analysis: Rahm Emanuel Wins Again


It always seemed inevitable that he’d win. That was the point.

Rahm Emanuel won his re-election contest Tuesday night and bested challenger Jesus “Chuy” Garcia to remain in charge of Chicago for another four years, the Associated Press projects.

“I have had the good fortune to serve two presidents, being elected to congress, but being mayor of the city of Chicago is the greatest job I’ve ever had. I’m humbled at the opportunity to serve you, the greatest city for the next 4 years."

The acerbic mayor overcame questions about his personal style and fended off opposition from the Chicago Teachers Union and the Service Employees International Union who backed his opponent, to win back the job of running city hall.

It wasn’t easy for a mayor who’s used to getting his way. Emanuel expected to cruise to victory in a February primary where he took on a weak field of challengers. But the self-confident political operative, who’s served in Congress and in two White House administrations, ran into trouble.

Garcia, the handpicked candidate of the CTU, shocked the political system and thrilled progressives when he forced Emanuel into the city’s first ever runoff election for mayor.

Emanuel was left vulnerable after a tenure that saw him clash with teachers over a contract dispute that led to a strike, close 50 schools in mostly black neighborhoods, preside over a wave of violent crime on the south and west sides, and install a series of questionable red light cameras around the city, among other autocratic decisions.

But his opponent, who turned in an impressive result on primary night, was not able to turn Emanuel’s weaknesses into an electoral victory. Garcia often punted on opportunities to outline a specific plan for helping the city through its myriad fiscal woes and ran a campaign whose central theme was “I’m not Rahm.”

Emanuel, who relied on a nearly $30 million war chest to run advertisements during the campaign, may not have offered many more fiscal specifics than Garcia. But his attack ads painted the challenger as completely unprepared for the job of managing a multi-billion dollar budget. The image stuck and Chuy’s reliance wait-and-see-ideas (he said he’d form a commission to look at the city’s finances after the election) didn’t help define him as a candidate that could cross the hurdle of preparedness.

Turns out voters favored the bully who talked the talk instead of the good guy who didn’t say much.

"We are the city that works, and that means it has to work for everyone in every neighborhood. The decisions we make in 4 years will determine what Chicago will look like in the next 40 years," Emanuel said in his victory speech.

But Emanuel’s victory brings with it some questions and some challenges because the man who earned the nickname Rahmbo continues to have an image problem.

And while a majority of voters cast their ballot for Emanuel, the may have held their nose voting. Emanuel remains a deeply disliked individual. He even acknowledged his testy personality in an on-air advertisement that saw him own up to his reputation as a hard-charging jerk.

Will he try to hang on to the softer side of Rahm? Can the mayor swallow his pride when dealing with a cadre of individuals and organizations that endorsed his challenger or will he stick it to them, dead fish style? Put another way: Will Rahm play nice in his second go around?

That’s not so inevitable.

Photo Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Calif. Man Was Trapped in Yemen


A Bay Area man is finally home after a harrowing journey through a country sliding toward civil war.

It took Mokhtar Alkhanshali almost four days by boat and plane to make it home from Yemen. He says something has to be done to get American civilians out of that country.

Alkhanshali works in Yemen — his jobs involves helping coffee farmers cultivate their product and access western markets. He was in the country’s capitol ten days ago when a Saudi led air-bombing campaign began and sectarian violence broke out.

“It felt like Armageddon,” he said. “All hell broke loose — planes dropping bombs.”

Hundreds have been killed, including more than 70 children.

With aircraft you don’t know what’s happening,” he said. “You don’t know if it’s gonna hit you because you can’t see them. It was horrible and I said, ‘you know what? I got leave here.’”

But with the airport bombed and most ports shut down Alkhanshali says he knew options for leaving were limited, especially because the US had said it had no plans to evacuate its residents in the country.

“We were trapped in Yemen,” Alkhanshali said.

Eventually Alkhanshali said he was able to make a seven hour journey to the Port of Mocha where he took a boat to Africa, and then Amsterdam from where he boarded a plane back to San Francisco.

“The whole journey had a lot of close calls,” he said.

Alkhanshali says he’s happy to be home but worried about family and friends he left behind.

“I got lucky. I got very lucky,” he said.

Last week, the Bay Area Yemeni community mourned the death of one of their own. Jamal al-Labani, who lived in Oakland for about 15 years, was killed by shrapnel during heavy rebel tank fire last Tuesday.

Al-Labani is an American citizen who went to Yemen in February to try and bring his pregnant wife and 2-year-old daughter to the United States.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area

Wallingford Man Claimed Sandy Hook Staff Faked Shooting: Cops


Authorities have arrested a Wallingford man who placed five harassing phone calls to Sandy Hook Elementary School and accused staff of fabricating the 2012 massacre that left 20 students and six educators dead, according to police.

Timothy Rogalski, 30, of Wallingford, left "four disturbing telephone messages" on the school answering machine Tuesday morning, according to police. He called back a fifth time and spoke to an administrative assistant.

Police said Rogalski also left messages on the machines of two other schools in Newtown.

He was arrested at his home in Wallingford and charged with five counts of harassment and one count of disorderly conduct out of Monroe. Newtown police also issued Rogalski a misdemeanor summons charging him with harassment.

Rogalski's bond was set at $2,500. He's being held at the Monroe Police Department and will appear in court Wednesday morning.

Photo Credit: Monroe Police Department

Dramatic NYPD Bridge Rescue Caught on Video


A dramatic NYPD rescue of a suicidal woman from the Kosciuszko Bridge Monday was captured on video, showing the moment two veteran officers were able to convince the woman to allow herself to be pulled up over the railing and onto the ground above the bridge. 

The 45-year-old Brooklyn woman was standing on a 5-inch pipe on the outside of the bridge, which connects Brooklyn and Queens over the Newtown Creek, when officers were called there, according to police. 

Emergency Service Units responded, as did a detective from the 108th Precinct station in Long Island City, police said. Det. Meghan Kinsella, a 14-year veteran who worked as a domestic violence officer for more than nine years, had just finished a home visit when she heard the 911 call and went to assist in the response.

Kinsella, along with Det. Steven Stefanakos of the ESU, began talking to the woman and taking turns engaging in conversation, despite her not being responsive at first, they said. 

"As a woman and a mother, I was nervous for her," Kinsella told NBC 4 New York. "I knew I wanted to do my best to get her back up." 

Kinsella said she tried to convince the woman the officers would be with her every step of the way. She and Stefanakos took turns speaking with her for nearly two and a half hours. 

Stefanakos, a 24-year veteran with 20 years in the ESU, said when he first started speaking with her, she released a wire she was holding onto and bent her knees as if she was going to jump.

"I told her, I don't know what is going on and what is happening with you, but give us a chance to talk to you," he said. When he mentioned family and children, she grabbed back onto the wire.

Stefanakos, a father himself, said that's when he knew he'd made a critical connection with her. An instructor with the ESU, he teaches officers how to interact with emotionally disturbed persons in crisis and he was able to recognize that the woman was calling out for help, the NYPD said. 

Eventually, Stefanakos and Kinsella were able to convince the woman to come off the ledge, and that's when the officers reached over, grabbed the woman and pulled her up to safety.

"The first thing I did was I grabbed her, hugged her and kissed her, and I said, 'You're so brave,'" said Kinsella. 

EMS took the woman to Elmhurst Hospital for treatment. 

"It's a huge relief," said Stefanankos. "It actually is euphoric because you made a difference in somebody's life, right there and then."

Kinsella said, "I'm a mom, so I just wanted to get her home safe with her family." 

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