NAACP calls for hate crime charge against UHart roommate; holds rally outside of West Hartford PD

WEST HARTFORD – A University of Hartford student said she was the victim of disturbing harassment by her roommate. That roommate was charged with criminal mischief and breach of peace, but the CT NAACP said that is not going far enough.

Members with the NAACP along with city officials gathered outside of the West Hartford Police Department Wednesday night for a rally and a press conference. They demanded Brianna Brochu be charged with a hate crime.

“It’s probably one of the most disgusting and nastiest things I’ve ever heard in my adult life,” said CT NAACP President Scot Esdaile.

Photo of what Rowe claims is blood on her belongings.

It just was one week ago when FOX61 learned Brochu was charged following accusations that she tampered with roommate Chennel Rowe’s belongings.

“Rubbing bloody tampons on my things, so like she posted pictures of my Steve Madden bag that I had been sleeping next to the whole time on my bed with blood stains on it,” said Rowe.

The day after FOX61’s first story aired, police sent out an update and said they would request the court to add the charge of intimidation based on bigotry or bias, a hate crime charge. However, one week later and that charge still has not happened.

“We had conversations with the District Attorney and we had conversations with the West Hartford Police Department asking why this is not done and they were kind of like passing the buck,” added Esdaile.

The NAACP said the District Attorney’s office never received a written request or any documents from the West Hartford Police Department on hate crime charges.

Brianna Rae Brochu

“For the authorities not to take care of this, I mean, everyone’s dragging their feet on it, it’s totally unacceptable. Totally unacceptable,” added Esdaile.

Jean McDermott were one of the people who attended the rally and said she joined because she felt a personal connection to Rowe.

“It struck very close to home for me. I have a Jamaican daughter-in-law who’s very petite and dark-skinned just like Jasmine and so, I definitely think that she deserves a lot of support,” said McDermott.

The rally generated a large crowd and a University of Hartford shuttle even dropped off students who wanted to participate. The NAACP’s message Wednesday night was to see Brochu charged with a hate crime before her next court appearance.

“These are poisonous substances we’re talking about over a period of time to a complete innocent victim. It’s a hate crime,” added McDermott.

A sign held during Wednesday night's rally.

On Wednesday, UHart's President released an "Immediate Plan for Action" for their campus which revolves around issues of equity, inclusion, and diversity. President Greg Woodward said a number of suggestions for action have emerged following this incident.

"What is clear to me is that each person and unit on campus has a part to play in moving forward," said Woodward.

Brochu’s next court appearance will be on Wednesday the 15th at 9 a.m. at Hartford Superior Court. The NAACP are urging people to rally outside of the courthouse that day for Brochu to be charged with a hate crime.