Saud Anwar

State Senator

Saud Anwar

Deputy President Pro Tempore

Working For You

May 24, 2022

Senators Slap, Anwar Highlight Security Funding for Houses of Worship, Nonprofits in May Bond Commission Agenda

Houses of worship and eligible nonprofit organizations at heightened risk of being the target of a hate crime or violent act will soon have access to $5 million in funds to improve security, according to the State Bond Commission’s May 26 agenda. State Senators Derek Slap (D-West Hartford) and Saud Anwar (South Windsor) highlighted the scheduled release of funding, as they have been strong advocates for increasing protections in recent years amid a rise of hate crimes and violent incidents in houses of worship, most recently an attack on a California church in mid-May that killed one and injured five.

In 2019, Sen. Slap and Sen. Anwar introduced the original bill which created the grant program through which this funding will be dispersed. A total of $15 million in funds is dedicated to it over time; this is the second $5 million allocation to be approved by the Bond Commission.

“We know places of worship as community centers, where we can come together with our friends and neighbors to practice our beliefs,” said Sen. Slap. “We need to preserve the safety and security of these important places in the face of tragic, horrific attacks. This funding will help make them safer and provide important support to allow all of us to worship freely.”

“No one should have to fear for their or their family’s safety when they go to a place of worship,” said Sen. Anwar. “Unfortunately, as of right now, there are real concerns for safety in our society. While we all work to make people love and respect each other and each other’s ways of connecting with the beloved, we have a responsibility to work to make places of worship safe. This current grant brings us closer to that.”

“We continue to see a rise in hate crimes and shootings at houses of worship across the United States,” said Jewish Federation Association of Connecticut Executive Director Michael Bloom. “We are grateful for Governor Lamont and the legislature for securing and releasing these critical dollars to help protect our institutions and our communities.”

In the Bond Commission’s agenda, $5 million in funds are set to be released pending approval on May 26. These funds, financing the Nonprofit Organization Security Infrastructure Competitive Grant Program, include investments and grants-in-aid to eligible nonprofit organizations exempt from taxation and at heightened risk of violence. These organizations can receive up to $50,000 in grant funding to reinforce properties, including installation of ballistic glass, solid core doors, double door access, electronic locks, remote locks, buzzer systems, cameras, strong vestibules and other security metrics.

Houses of worship, unfortunately, have seen a rise in violent incidents and attacks in recent years. Churches have seen attacks including the Charleston, South Carolina shooting in 2015 in which a white supremacist killed nine African Americans during a church meeting and the Sutherland Springs, Texas shooting in 2017 where a gunman killed 26. In 2018, an antisemitic mass shooting at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue killed 11. In New Zealand, in 2019, a gunman killed 50 people in an attack on two mosques in New Zealand, with the attack cited as inspiration for a recent mass shooting by a white supremacist in Buffalo, New York.

In Connecticut, a man fired 30 shots at the Ahmadiyya Baitul Aman Mosque in Meriden in 2015, while a fire was set at a New Haven mosque in 2019, which was investigated as arson; just weeks ago, a man forced entry into a Waterbury mosque and vandalized the property.