The Weekly Reload Podcast

The Man Behind Armed Civilian Patrols in Connecticut's Capital City Speaks Out

March 18th, 2024

Crime is a significant problem in Hartford, Connecticut, and some residents don't think local politicians and law enforcement are doing enough to combat it.

Some of those residents have now decided to do organized armed patrols in Hartford's more dangerous neighborhoods. Cornell Lewis is one of the people doing that organizing. He runs a group called the Self-Defense Brigade, and he joined the show this week to explain his group's tactics and motivations.

Lewis said he and the other volunteers who've been patrolling streets are fed up with the violence that has been carried out there. He said they want to show anyone considering committing violent crime that the community is capable of and willing to push back. The group gained local attention for its patrols last year but has gotten much more attention after it decided to step up efforts in the wake of a double homicide in the city last month.

Not everyone has welcomed the group's efforts, though. Some local law enforcement, politicians, and community groups have said armed civilian patrols will only cause more problems for Hartford. Lewis responded to those critiques by saying the Self-Defense Brigade has no intention of being a vigilante group and is merely trying to train the community in lawful defensive techniques.

Lewis said the group's methods have been effective, there have been no violent incidents associated with their marches, and none of the volunteers have been arrested or done anything illegal.

Plus, Contributing Writer Jake Fogleman and I discuss a federal appeals court upholding Rhode Island's magazine ban. And we have a Reload Member on to discuss his experience as a recent convert to gun ownership in Washington, D.C.