Sep 29, 2012

Ride for Justice from St Paul through Burlington to Cheshire - Google Maps

Ride for Justice from St Paul through Burlington to Cheshire Map

The "RIDE FOR JUSTICE" is upon us once again!
The event has become annual but originated in 2010 when two close friends of  William Petit Jr came up with an idea for a Motorcycle Rally Fundraiser in order to raise money for the Petit Family Foundation.   The Petit Family Foundation is a non profit charity organized in the wake of a tragic home invasion  that took the lives of  Jennifer, Hayely and Michaela Petit, leaving husband and father William Petit Jr critically injured.

As Dr Petit two friends happened to be Motorcycle enthusiasts, they likely integrated their own love of Biking with the well established fact that Bikers in general are givers- philanthropists in their own rite; Thousands of bikers particpate in  motorcycle rally's each year, traveling special routes all over the country to join forces, often raising money for children's charities and other worthy causes.

In other words, Bikers are known to have Big Hearts.

The " Ride for Justice" like many of the Petit foundation events emanated from people within the state of Connecticut and beyond intent on keep the kind and giving spirit of the "Petit girls" alive. In doing so they  continue to raise monies for the growing Petit Family Foundation a non profit charity
( )  formed in the wake of the murders after a veritable outpouring of (unsolicited) donations were sent to Dr William Petit Jr from all over the country.

 In the meantime, Dr Petit, still deeply grieving, slowly began the challenging and harrowing ascent from victim to survivor-ship, and  the Petit foundation would seem to serve as a respite as well as an engine for healing for he, his family and the entire community.

The Petit Family Foundation, it's fundraisers and rallies had become a positive focal point for the many, many people across the state and beyond, so greatly pained by Dr Petit's unfathomable loss, and the cruel nature of the crimes themselves. It allowed others to heal by translating terrible crimes and loss of precious life, into Good; all helping others and perpetuating the ideals of Dr. Petit's departed family.

Everyone participating in helping the Petit Floundation and its sub charities, in even the smallest of ways, were each helping to restore Michaela, Hayely and Jennifer Petit  to who they were in life, carrying their fine qualities onward, they were  preserving the Petit "girls" legacy of kindness and good and servioce to the community.

By 2010 it had been three years since the crimes had happened; the Foundation had transformed from a relatively small grassroots charity to a substantial non profit of reckoning whose many events, rallies and donation drives, were already making a huge difference in the communities surrounding Cheshire, as well as many other areas of the State.

Most importantly The Foundation was bringing people together and making a substantial difference in the lives of many people who were in desperate need of resources and assistance; all due to the hard work of Bill Petit Jr and his massive ever growing circle of volunteers and helpers.

From the Foundation's sizable donations to organizations that helped victims of violence,( with a focus on domestic violence/sexual assault, to helping adults and children struggling with chronic illness, the Petit Family Foundation developed a purposely broad mission statement, which had one constant at its core: the desire to help people in need, particularly those who lacked the resources and/or ability to help themselves.

Altruism, compassion and activism were qualities that family and friends all described as central in the lives of Hayely, Jennifer, and even eleven year old Michaela Petit. It was in fact a quote borrowed from Michaela's Face book page that inspired what was to become the Petit Foundation's by now infamous slogan

"Be the Change"

These three powerful words were taken from a quote by Mahatma Gandhi. At such a tender age, Michaela Petit chose this quote as her "favorite quotation" on her Facebook page:

You must be the change that you wish to see in this world"

 What better way to honor the Petit "girls" than to emulate their giving and caring natures.

While all of the Petit events are wonderful affairs, I have to admit that  "The Ride for Justice" is one of my favorites. It strikes a chord and touches my heart in some inexplicable way that I cannot necessarily convey with mere words. Suffice to say the video at the top of this post may help in this regard..

Seeing a brigade of otherwise tough, burly looking men riding in perfectly paired unison, atop shiny chrome tinged chargers, there faces somber but at the same time - glad to be of help on a  sunny Sunday morning, doing what many love the most riding their bikes. They do so to pay respect to the victims to Dr Petit, his family, and at the same time they are there to help others in need.

All of this brings tears to my face. A mixture of sadness hope  and pride. The same kind of tears that fall when I watch a group of aging veterans decked out in full dress uniform, navigating their way some in wheelchairs others on foot, in small town parades.

And then there is the excitement surrounding the arrival of thousands of  motorcycles descending into this typically quiet New England Town. The energy in the air literally vibrates,  everything changes at once: the diversity of the riders are as  mixed as the folks who come to watch,. some with children atop their shoulders elderly folks some with walkers and others with canes.

The onset of  Race day is enough to make anyone feel like a kid again. With a massive deafening roar, hundreds upon hundreds of shiny, colorful Motorcycles, come riding in double formation. Some Bikes hold lone riders, bearded men with bandannas atop mostly Harley s  some old some new but all appear lovingly waxed and polished for the occasion.

There are the sport bike enthusiasts,  weekend riders, straddling lower slung foreign bikes that have an entirely different look and feel. Most of the bikers ride with partners, arms wrapped, almost proprietorially around the driver's chests; The entire brigade is led by a imposing  gaggle of  helmeted State Police upon their Motorbikes,  lights ablaze and flashing. On this day, every rider is a brother, all here for a common good.

 It is surreal and heart warming to witness this display of diversity and unity. all for a greater good..

A greeting line has formed where each attendee patiently waits their turn to meet sole survivor turned philanthropist, Bill Petit;  These tough  looking men shake his hand, or, as was more often the case, give him an genuine heartfelt hug, some leaning in and in hushed tones they share whispered words, words that they hope will convey condolence, respect and inspiration. One need only see the faces to understand the message imparted. As is always the case,Srl Petit is profoundly gracious, and he returns every hug in kind, accepts the claps on his back and shakes every hand proffered. 

This massive display of  kindness, compassion and altruism, from a horde of men that many ( wrongly) assume are hard or macho, this this is what moves me so at this event..

You see. the message quickly becomes clear:: most people are good, kind and compassionate. We may dress differently,  choose different lifestyles, jobs, recreation, but none of that is what really matters.
 Love, compassion, healing and faith, these are the things that weave us all together..

And  now this lesson has been added to the growing legacy of Michaela, Jennifer and Hayely, as they are  resting in Gods loving arms, they will surely continue to inspire us.

Sep 23, 2012

Petit Family Foundation Ride for Justice Sunday Sept. 30th!

Video of PFF'S first ever Ride For Justice in 2010

Its that time of year everyone!

The Petit Family Foundation's Ride For Justice is just around the corner - this Sunday Sept 30th!

Motorcycles are not required to attend this incredibly moving, upbeat event!

Volunteers are still needed, so please visit the Petit family Foundation and Ride for Justice ways to support
for details and how to get involved!

Sep 14, 2012

2012 Petit Family Ride For Justice


2012 Event (9/30)

Presenting Sponsor:

Title Sponsors:
image image image
The “Ride for Justice” leaves St. Paul Catholic High School in Bristol, CT and follows a scenic route along country back roads into prime Connecticut Fall Foliage areas! We will travel through Bristol, Burlington, Harwinton, Terryville, Wolcott and Plantsville, arriving at Bozzuto’s Food Distribution Center in Cheshire in time for an awesome Outback Steak House family style BBQ.
Registration at St. Paul Catholic High School from 9:00 to 11:00 am…Ride leaves at 11:30 am
Cost: $25.00 per Rider, $15.00 per passenger.
No Bike Needed! Walk-ins - $15.00.
Live Entertainment starts at 9:00 am at St Paul High School with Face4Radio and at 12:30 pm at Bozzuto’s with The Happening! Come early and bring a friend!
This event was the idea of committee chair, Ron Catucci, a long time rider and his friend Keith Stack. Upon hearing the idea, long time Petit family friend Vincent Trantolo offered the assistance of his firm, Trantolo & Trantolo LLC. They were instrumental in organizing the event and securing generous help from Yankee Harley Davidson and Bozzuto’s Food Distribution Center. Not missing a step, Ryan Lucas the Manager of the Southington Outback Steak House very quickly stepped in and offered to do “whatever it takes”. Our first two rides had over 1200 motorcycles participating and over 3000 people in attendance. We look forward to 2012 being even bigger & better!

Sep 13, 2012

Fairfield Police get F in response to Stalking crimes

I am alarmed disgusted and shocked at the ineptitude of the Fairfield Police Department in regards to their response to a recent string of stalking crimes in town. These crimes have all the earmarks for potential violence and confrontation.

It is an ominous sign indeed that rather than progressing in their awareness and response to
such serious crimes as stalking harassment and destruction of property, the Fairfield Connecticut Police department collectively would indeed seem to be regressing to a dangerously apathetic attitude such as the one that prevailed in Torrington Connecticut in the 80's.

I am of course referring to the Tracy Thurman case which resulted in a near fatal stabbing and
a massive lawsuit against the Torrington Police department.  Sadly it took bloodshed and a multi million dollar civil lawsuit against this Police department to bring about much needed change in our States Domestic violence laws, including serious crimes such as stalking and restraining order violation.

The Thurman lawsuit seemed to provoke a  change in the Police departments response to all crimes that fell under the umbrella of "domestic violence".This includes dating violence

I have written about this type of crime for well over six years. I better than anyone know that a lackadaisical attitude by Police in an escalating stalking  or harassment scenario is the perfect foundation for a predator. Police complacency is a predator/ stalker/ batterer's best friend.

The Fairfield Police have not only been remiss but glaringly irresponsible in the way that they have chosen to handle a clear cut repeated pattern of stalking and harassment crimes. The fact that these crimes are being committed at a home where a restraining order exists makes complacency a perfect recipe for re-victimization.

Ironically, below is a photo taken from the Fairfield Connecticut Police department's own website regarding Domestic Violence. Note the statement regarding "trusting the system" 


Sep 11, 2012

911 Tribute/ Kevin Cosgrove Voice from the Towers

Below is an article that I first wrote in September 2009. 

I  now re-post it every September 11th as a small way of honoring of the depth I feel about this tragedy especially after 911 calls such as Mr. Cosgrave's really brought the reality of these victims pain under a magnifying glass; lending so much more clarity and humanity to  an event that we were already so pained by.

As one little boy said in his memorial to Kevin Cosgrove on the 911 Memorial Page, although he was young when 911 happened -He was only ten) seeing Kevin's video and more importantly, hearing his entire 911 call, capturing his moment of death,  forever changed the way that this youngster looked at-experienced the entire scope of the tragic events.

Distant Media camera views of two gashed skyscrapers emitting large plumes of smoke, along with incessant TV shots of the hijacked planes piercing the skyscrapers thousands of feet in the air,lent children and adults alike, what became a grateful distance, as the mayhem and human carnage was so mostly so very high in the air pulled from our immediate view,.

Those simpler images are what most children saw broadcast on the day these acts of barbaric terrorism struck our nation.;

Perhaps because even adults were not yet courageous Nor wise yet to see the many smaller but oh so human experiences of that day; I admire Mrs. Cosgrove for allowing the tape to be used both in the Moussaoui trial, but also to be posted publically on the internet  likely giving the matter great thought hoping to humanize these massive acts of terrorism for millions of people across the world, many of them too young to remember the day itself nor the heroism

The Falling Man

I was researching an article in Esquire entitled "The Falling Man"

It was a poignant multi-layered culmination of stories  about the September 11th victims that  were beginning to be incorrectly referred to as the " jumpers",

Not only is the term a total misnomer as the families and morgues were quick to correct it was insulting;  Most were forced to to leap out of broken windows in the towers due to encroaching fire and heat, some literally blown out of windows at the onset of the planes collision with the buildings,  which was made so much worse by the hijacked aircraft's pre=planned full fuel tanks. The terrorists wanted maximum carnage ,

It was through the Falling Man article that I came to know about the existence of the 9-1-1 calls most  made by victims trapped on the higher floors of the towers. 

I had been made aware years earlier a plethora of  heartbreaking answering machine messages made by victims to family and friends, as they anticipated their probably deaths. The calls came from both the hijacked planes and the towers after both tower one and two were struck

 Listening to the collage of such sad and personal messages left by frustrated trapped  fire victims had stuck with me for months and at one point I vowed I wouldnt listen to anymore of them because the pain of the caller and the family members who recieved them was just too great to bear.

Now, a few years later Kevin Congreves 8911 tape presented itself; my personal role as activist for crime victims had evolved and the importance of Kevins' s frustration and pain and the fact that he left a message for us led me to decided I/ we owed it to Kevin Cosgrove ro listen to that last minutes of his life and his dedication to his children his wife and his struggle to see them again,

After a great deal of waffling back and forth, I finally made a decison and  mustered the courage to listen to Kevin Cosgroves 9-1-1 call.

I have to admit, I wasn't prepared for what I heard;

Listening to the call was much worse than I expected.

It was as if I was right there with Kevin. The experience was gripping, heartbreaking and left me forever changed. 

actually experienced the physical symptoms that Mr Cosgrove was enduring; the black thick smoke that was choking him and making it almost impossible for him to see. The growing panic and the obvious frustration of the man as he nor the other caller were given any concrete information as  when help might be coming.

Kevin Cosgrove worked at Aon Corporation on the 83th floor. But as designated office fire chief, he tried to make certain that most of his group of Aon employees evacuated after the North tower was hit, he then called his wife assured her he was okay and began the descent down the stairs on foot just as the second plane hit the south tower. 

The explosion and heat smoke probably drove him right back up now to the higher floors, to the roof, this the place where his fire training had always taught him to go in situations like this - to ascend was ones only hope to the roof, for a helicopter rescue.

Tragically. the roof door was locked, as was the roof-door on the North tower -hundreds of people attempted that same superhuman climb up miles of stairs, many flooded, covered with debris only to discover locked doors. Tragically in any event there was no chance that a helicopter landing was possible in either building anyway, the smoke and heat made any roof rescue impossible, yet I watched those helicopters and small planes circling those towers and I was so frustrated and angry as I imagined the office workers trapped with broken windows and flames behind them, wondering why the rescue helicopters were not attempting to help them!?

Perhaps they thought that rescue baskets could be dropped to swing to the broken windows as the copters hovered as close as they possibly could to the buildings. All I know is that there were hundreds of people waving flags, sheets shirts and scraps of material, some climbing down the face of the building, believing that those helicopters were there for a reason, for some kind of rescue...and yet, there was none.

In the meantime Kevin Cosgrove took his exhausted body and climbed back down flights and flights of stairwells by foot, facing growing smoke labored breathing and panic; he must have run into the first office where he spotted other men or voices gathered It was this office on the Southwest corner facing the financial center that he made his now, infamous 9-1-1 telephone call from.

As one person on his memorial page expressed so aptly,  "I found myself not wanting to let go of him." at the end of the call.

I can only imagine what that well meaning 911 operator felt as the call ended so horribly.
And like many others who chose listen to this and other 911 phone calls, they have forever changed my perspective of that terrible day.

Kevin Cosgrove's 9-1-1 call was one of three used as evidence in the Moussaui trial, and this is why this tape along with Mellisa Doi's and a few others became available to the public.

After reading this post in it's entirety, if you wish to listen to the tape, I have embedded a version that has a heart warming biography of Mr Cosgrove's life giving us a real feel for who he was at his very core. A good man., a family man.

I warn that listening this tape will be an extremely emotional experience, and it will forever change anyone who listens to it. At first I regretted having listened because the callers plight was so raw, so awful and much worse than I expected - and I could not shake the memory or the feelings. It was a Pandora's box I felt. 

However as with other crimes, rather than take the easy way out and avoid, because it was unpleasant,  I came to see that we should never regret sharing our brothers pain  for me a necessary pain a pain that ultimately transformed 911 from a terrible tragedy day to something altogether more more personal, raw, human and more true.

I came to understand that we owe the victims, at the very least, the truth of their experiences created by these violent acts. Embracing the complete unvarnished reality of their experience. This tape leads us there. 

The pain that all of us feel upon hearing these desperate callers describe the horrific conditions in the towers, their fear over their likely imminent deaths, and the distress in having to leave their families and loved ones, made us now feel that we knew them. By becoming privy to the most intimate last moments of their lives, this has allowed us to honor their experience without the whitewashed effect of distant news- camera shots of a burning buildings thousands of feet in the air.

Even the sudden and awful collapse of the towers into veritable dust bowl, like so much else that happened that day, was utterly surreal as it happened. It was not that we couldn't and didn't consider the horror of what was  going on way up there, where our eyes could not see.  It just wasn't in our face, so to speak, and we gratefully took advantage of that kind distance, because really, the horror might have been too much for us to bear. The voices of the people on these tapes and their stories change all of this forever The people themselves now reside in us. We carry them.

Many people have asked why I listened to the Cosgrove and other 911 tapes and why I would encourage others to listen, when it was so sad and so awful. I always share that sometimes circumstance presents an opportunity where pain can serve as an engine for greater understanding, and ultimately, spiritual growth as human beings, individuals, and a society. This is one of those times.

The Internet has opened up a door for us. I do not suggest using it as voyeurs, but as caring witnesses . We can use the powerful emotions that are triggered in us, the empathy, the pain the frustration and even the anger,  to bring us to a new level of awareness about violent crime, tragedy, and the value of life and death.

When reading the memorial pages of the 911 callers, many people shared that problems that has just seemed so important in their lives prior to listening to Kevin Cosgrove's desperate last minutes on earth, immediately were diminished. And a new found appreciation for what one had in their lives spring up.

This was not a rare thing,  a great many people cited this tape as a turning point in their lives, an appreciation for every hour of every day, marked by the experience of listening to words of these poor souls who expected to have a regular day and were robbed of their lives their loves.

Thousands expressed gratitude to Kevin Cosgrove and his family for giving them an opportunity to rethink the value of their own lives through his experience..

The link below is to Kevin Cosgrove's Memorial Page. New condolence messages appear weekly from all over the world since the 911 tapes were released. I am certain that the Cosgrove family reads them, and I  hope that they provide some solace to them, knowing that their beloved father, husband, brother and friend had such  life changing impact on so many.

As we read them we see again and again people saying that they now embrace their daily lives, lives they has been taking for granted.  I read memorial messages from young people who shared that they were not old enough to grasp the reality of 911 when it happened they were too young or immature and to them it was a piece of history obviously considered a massive "tragedy" But many did not personalize it the empathy and compassion wasn't there because it was too distant and they we rent taught about it from a humanistic perspective, merely a history class.

These young people often went on to tell of shedding their first tears about this tragedy after listening to Kevin Cosgrove call and his last final minutes in the burning South tower. This is  but some of the reasons that I now realized releasing the tapes was the right thing to do.

My hope is that we will be more inclined to spend our time ministering, helping  people that are in pain or in need, As well we will live each day to the fullest and be grateful for the time we are given and those people whom we are gifted to share our love with.

Rest on Peace  Kevin Cosgrove,  Doug Cherry, Melissa Doi and every single hero and soldier that lived out their last hours heroes all on this sad and infamous day that shall 

never be forgotten.

Sep 8, 2012

Drew Peterson Found Guilty Of Murder In Kathleen Savio's Death

Kudos to the Illinois Legislature for having the courage to pass "Drew's law" in 2008.,the law pertaining to the admission of hearsay in murder cases.Without the law,  the Peterson murder case, built largely on "circumstantial" evidence (of gigantic proportions) may have fallen short of garnering a guilty verdict : The true picture of  Drew Peterson, the man he actually was within the confines of his multiple marriages, would not have been admissible, and thus the jury would not have heard the plethora of incriminating evidence against him.


Hopefully, Police are now re-doubling efforts in their investigation into the " disappearance" of Stacy Peterson, Peterson's fourth wife, the tragic happening that was the catalyst for the re-investigation into  Savio's "accidental death" - now officially\ deemed a murder thanks to drew law and a conscientious Jury.

Drew Peterson Guilty Of Murder In Kathleen Savio's Death, Jury Finds

Sep 5, 2012

Dragging race into the fray...again.

Well, we knew that it was simply a matter of time
before the vultures swooped down grabbing up
the opportunities created by the recent Death penalty repeal. Naturally money is involved - profiteering and garnering attention for themselves under the guise of "protecting" the murderous men that reside in Connecticut prison's death row.

First there was this:
Killer fights Death Penalty based on recent repeal

And now this: 5 death row inmates suing state in class action suit

Held in solitary confinement, segregated from the regular prison population, these men stay in thier cells reading,writing, pen paling and communicating with each other ( every prison has it's vulnerabilities and suffice to say murderers, sex offenders etc are highly adaptable and not big on obeying rules. In fact Steven Hayes wasnt the first inmate to threaten a guards life taunting" I"m on death row there's nothing else you can do to me !" 

Hence the segregation.

For years we've heard claims from public defenders and some minority legislators that "the Connecticut Death Penalty was racially biased, :men of color were purportedely singled out for  the death penalty more readily by prosecutors. That is to say, these lawyers claim our prosecutors did not choose to pursue the death penalty based upon a multiple capital charges ie murder sexual assault, the aggravating factors" - in human-speak means how much brutality and suffering the victims endured, and other things such as the victims age(children) and the defendants motive premeditation etc.

The lawyers and legislators claiming that Cts DP was racially biased would have us all believe that this bias is multi pronged, If you are of color you're more likely to have the states attorney pursue a death penalty against you, as well  they claim that  no matter what color the murderer is , that murderer is also more apt to wind up with a zealous prosecutor choosing to pursue a death sentence if the victims were white.

They must be forgetting Karen and BJ Clarke, the two state witnesses in the Russell Peeler murder//Drug case.  Karen Clarke was black as was her 6 year old son BJ; both were tragically gunned down at the order of Russell Peeler Jr. and at the hands of Russel's brother, as the Peeler's knew the Clarke's had witnessed a murder that Russell Peeler was indicted for. Now here was a case that inflamed the state; we grieved the murders of this young mom trying to do the right thing, being courageous,instead of saying I don't want to get involved" as so many people do, she did the right thing, even allowing her son who also witnessed the murder to testify.

Drug Kingpin Russell Peeler learned that clarkes were cooperating w/ police the order to kill both Karen and little BJ was made. Peeler's brother was the trigger-man shooting Karen and her son in their  apartment. It was horrible,evil and it was made worse by the fact that mother and son were not adequately
protected or protected at all as witnesses in a federal murder case.

Prosecutors pursued the death penalty for Russell Peeler for ordering the murders of a child and young mother, Peelers  brother for carrying them out and the get away driver who enabled the delivery of the murderer and his escape with full afore-knowledge of the murders of Karen and BJ Clarke.

Unfortunately do to our unpredictable jury system the driver was the only man who actually was awarded the death penalty for his part in the murders. Somehow the Peelers  escaped the fate that they so clearly deserved.  The point here is that everyone in this terrible set of murders was African American or black. Yet clearly color did not inhibit nor propel the State in its pursuitof justice. Nor were the people of the state any less grief stricken angry and  involved in obtaining justice for the Clarke family. I personally recall seeing those shooting murders over and over in my mind and my anger at the fact that the Clarke's who were good brave people clearly did not have adequate protection as State witnesses in a case of that magnitude.

The case sparked the"BJ Clarke law"legislation that guaranteed that all witnesses for the State must be given maximum protection from Police State Police and the FBI.