Amistad to try and attend New London festival - CBS 3 Springfield - WSHM

Amistad to try and attend New London festival

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The organization that operates the replica slave ship Amistad says it "will exhaust every resource" to try and attend Sailfest in New London after Gov. Dannel P. Malloy threatened to reconsider supporting additional state funding for the group.

Malloy sent a letter Thursday to Hanifa Washington, the executive director of Amistad America Inc., saying the schooner should be made available to Connecticut residents. Nearly $400,000 is included for the ship in this year's state budget.

Washington released a statement later in the day saying if the crew can satisfy maritime safety regulations, it will "gladly participate" in the festival.

Washington previously said preparing for the Coast Guard inspection and what she described as hostile local newspaper reports prompted the decision to withdraw from this weekend's festival.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy threatened Thursday to reconsider supporting additional state funding for the replica Amistad slave ship if the schooner follows through with plans to skip this weekend's Sailfest in New London.

In a letter to Hanifa Washington, executive director of Amistad America Inc., Malloy said the schooner should be made available to Connecticut residents and the public. Nearly $400,000 is included in this year's state budget for the ship, dubbed the Freedom Schooner Amistad. Amistad America works to raise awareness about racism and intolerance.

"Failure to bring the Amistad to New London would force me to reconsider support of additional state funding when negotiating future budgets with the Connecticut General Assembly," Malloy said in his letter.

A message left Thursday seeking comment with Amistad officials was not immediately returned. Earlier this week, Washington cited reasons for the decision to forgo Sailfest, including preparations for an upcoming Coast Guard inspection and what she described as hostile local newspaper coverage.

Malloy said it was "wholly unacceptable for Amistad America to break its commitment to a festival that brings hundreds of thousands of people to southeastern Connecticut" and that he doesn't believe "any problems exist which could not have been raised in a more public manner months ago."

On Wednesday, Washington said The Day of New London's coverage of her organization's financial problems has been hostile and inaccurate. She said given that coverage, she was unwilling to postpone crew training and rush inspection preparations to attend the festival. She said the schooner will be open this weekend at its dock in New Haven.

Tim Cotter, the managing editor of The Day, has said the newspaper's stories have been accurate and he doesn't see how the coverage is relevant to the decision to attend Sailfest.

Also Thursday, Sen. Leonard Fasano, R-North Haven, sent a letter to Malloy asking him to support the suspension of state funds to Amistad America until an independent financial audit is complete. He said there are many questions about how the organization has spent the taxpayer money it has received.

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