Teens sit on Route 7 in Wilton in George Floyd protest

WILTON — What began with impassioned speeches, signs of protest, moments of silence, and luminaries that lifted into the early evening sky Tuesday at a rally attended by more than 300 people at Our Lady of Fatima Church culminated in a march down Route 7 by about 50 young people, mostly high school students, who then sat in the road across from the police department.

Police cruisers blocked the road from both directions and officers stood by as Chief John Lynch addressed the crowd.

Among them were many of the same people who peppered him with questions after the gathering about what his department was doing to “make people of color feel safe in this town.”

“Why do you feel they are not safe?” Lynch asked, to which a young woman replied, “This town is full of racists.”

Attempting to respond to her, Lynch said, “We are open and transparent … everything is recorded.”

In front of town hall, one black Wilton High School student told Lynch, “If I’m driving and get pulled over, I want to feel safe.”

Lynch admitted he couldn’t “understand what you’re going through, but we do recognize it and we’re trying to fix it.”

“Ever since I’ve been here,” the student who came as a freshman and is now a junior said, “I’ve never wanted to go to parties … I was always nervous about getting blamed for something I didn’t do.”

In addressing the students about police behavior, Lynch reminded them they all wear body cameras, which they requested.

“They really try to do the right thing,” he said, “You may disagree and I appreciate that.”

He said they do pull cars over “and we try to be fair.”

“Trying is not good enough!” one girl shouted.

Michael Gordon, a middle school teacher, addressed the crowd, telling them they have as much a role to play in fighting racism as anyone else.

The Rev. Reggie Norman, pastor of Our Lady of Fatima, tried to send the same message to the group who approached Lynch at the church.

“We will not fix 400 years of oppression in one hour,” Norman said. “We will get a dialogue going.”

He asked one member of the group to collect names and email addresses and he promised to have a meeting with them.

“We’re not giving up on this,” he said.

Among those who attended the event at the church were U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-4, state Sen. Will Haskell, D-Westport, and numerous town officials.

In addition to Norman and Lynch, addressing the crowd were First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice, the Rev. Shannon White of Wilton Presbyterian Church, the Rev. Caroline Smith of Wilton Baptist Church, the Rev. Lindsay Curtis of Grace Baptist Church in Norwalk and a Wilton resident, and the Rev. Anne Coffman of Wilton Congregational Church.