Saud Anwar

State Senator

Saud Anwar

Deputy President Pro Tempore

Working For You

May 25, 2023


Righting a wrong that has stood in Connecticut’s history for centuries, State Senator Saud Anwar (D-South Windsor) today led the State Senate’s approval of a resolution absolving the dozens of women and men who were accused, convicted and even executed for the crime of witchcraft in the 1600s. Recognizing that in today’s society, it is accepted that these women and men were innocent of such charges, the resolution seeks to bring relief to the descendants of those who were maligned and acknowledge that they were treated wrongly. Sen. Anwar and State Representative Jane Garibay (D-Windsor) were instrumental in the resolution’s passage; it passed the Senate with a 33-1-2 vote.

“We cannot go back in time and prevent the banishment, tarnishing or execution of the innocent women and men who were accused of witchcraft, but we can acknowledge the wronghoods they faced and the pain they felt, pain still recognized by their survivors today,” said Sen. Anwar. “Today, the Senate took an important step to own our state’s history and provide relief to the memories of the deceased and their descendants who still struggle with their ancestors’ wrongful treatment.”

House Joint Resolution 34, “Resolution Concerning Certain Witchcraft Convictions In Colonial Connecticut,” acknowledges that in the 1600s, at least 34 women and men were indicted for alleged crimes of “witchcraft and familiarities with the devil.” Of those, 12 were convicted and 11 were executed. It is acknowledged today that all accused were innocent, and that legal procedures of the 1600s would not meet modern standards. Additionally, misogyny played a large part in these trials and their denial of defendants’ rights and dignity, the resolution notes.

The resolution apologizes to those victims on the behalf of the State of Connecticut, apologizes to the descendants of those indicted, convicted and executed, apologizes for the harm done to those persons’ posterity and acknowledges that trauma and shame continues to affect the families of the accused.

This resolution received strong support in testimony from advocates including the Connecticut Witch Trial Exoneration Project. Kimberly Black of the Project, whose 14th-generation great grandmother Mary Sanford was hanged as a witch after conviction, noted that the resolution supported not only families of the victims but families and descendants of the accusers as well. “This can send a message about the dangers of alienating people,” Black testified, and creates an opportunity to educate the public on the Connecticut Witch Trials, shining a light on past history in Connecticut.

Dr. Charles Button of Central Connecticut State University, also testified in support of the measure. Button noted his family descends from both perpetrators and victims of the Hartford Witch Panic in the 1600s – “this resolution would bring peace and closure” to a complicated family history, he said.

Prior to its passage today, this resolution passed the House on May 10 by a vote of 121-30 and the Judiciary Committee by a 28-9 vote on March 27. It now heads to Governor Lamont’s desk for his signature.