Vanessa de la Torre | Connecticut Public Radio
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Vanessa de la Torre

Reporter

Vanessa de la Torre comes to WNPR after more than a decade as a newspaper reporter at the Hartford Courant, where her storytelling and investigative work on Hartford education was recognized regionally and by the Education Writers Association. She has also written for the St. Petersburg Times in Florida and interned at the Washington Post and the Imperial Valley Press in her native El Centro, Calif., a desert town near the U.S.-Mexico border. Vanessa received her bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and her master's from Stanford’s journalism program.

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Collision Course / Connecticut Public Television

It’s been six months since a police officer fatally shot Anthony Jose “Chulo” Vega Cruz after a traffic stop in Wethersfield, Conn.

The 18-year-old’s father, Jose Vega, often walks by the site of the shooting on Wethersfield’s Silas Deane Highway. It’s hard not to — he lives just a block and a half away. 

State's Attorney For The Judicial District Of Tolland

Three days after a man was shot and killed by a Hartford police detective, the state’s attorney investigating the incident released body camera footage showing the shooting from the perspective of three different police officers.

Vanessa de la Torre / Connecticut Public Radio

Off a highway in central Connecticut is the mosque with a 400-student Muslim Sunday school.

More guards are on patrol these days. And for the older students in the transition class, talking about Islamophobia is not only welcomed, but encouraged. The teenagers are in their final years of high school and will be heading off to college soon.

Vanessa de la Torre / Connecticut Public Radio

Leticia Colón de Mejias thinks no problem is insurmountable if Americans come together.

“Sometimes we take these subjects and we make them so big and scary that people feel we can’t take action,” said Colón, 42, a Connecticut entrepreneur, environmentalist and mother of seven. “Climate change seems terrifying. And everyone’s like, it’s too big.”

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

The state’s attorney investigating the fatal Wethersfield, Conn. police shooting said she wants to go back to the beginning of the traffic stop and understand why police pulled over 18-year-old Anthony Jose “Chulo” Vega Cruz.

A screengrab from the first of three videos released by the chief state's attorney on Friday, May 3, 2019 depicting the moments after a police officer in Wethersfield, Conn. shot an 18-year-old driver following a traffic stop.
Chief State's Attorney

Nearly two weeks since a Wethersfield police officer shot an 18-year-old driver after a traffic stop, the chief state’s attorney’s office released dashcam footage and surveillance video on Friday that show the incident that led to the man’s death.

Vanessa de la Torre / Connecticut Public Radio

Ebenezer Bassett was the first African American to graduate from the college now known as Central Connecticut State University. Then, in 1869, he became the first African American to serve as a U.S. diplomat.

Now 150 years after that appointment by President Ulysses S. Grant, CCSU has renamed its Social Sciences Hall in honor of Bassett — a recognition that comes with another historic first, university officials said this week.

Charles Rex Arbogast / Associated Press

The Obama Foundation is recruiting 100 young people in Hartford to be part of a six-month training program to develop the next wave of community leaders in Connecticut’s capital city.

Police patrol Hartford's Main Street on September 19, 1967. Photograph by Ellery G. Kingston from the Hartford Times Collection.
Courtesy of Hartford History Center, Hartford Public Library

Steve Harris climbed the steps to the upper lobby of Hartford Stage. This was a night off for the cast and crew of Detroit ‘67, a theater production set during the civil unrest of late 1960s Detroit.

But Harris, a 71-year-old retired fire captain in Hartford, came to see the photo exhibit inspired by the play. It brought him back to those turbulent times.

Dealer Cai Qilin, center, works on Mini Baccarat at an Asian gambling section in Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Conn., in 2006. Foxwoods estimated at the time that at least one-third of its 40,000 customers per day were Asian.
Chitose Suzuki / Associated Press

Quyen Truong still gets a cozy feeling when she sees a hand of cards.

It reminds her of family and traditions as a refugee from Vietnam who arrived in the U.S. in late 1990. Aunts, uncles and cousins in Connecticut — among the Southeast Asian refugees who resettled here in waves after the Vietnam War — would get together on weekends with rolls of quarters, nickels, pennies and dimes.

Vanessa de la Torre / Connecticut Public Radio

On one side of the room was a scrolling slideshow of maps. Connecticut cities looked like they were stained with red blots — the red being an indicator of how hard it was to get a response from households during the last Census.

Vanessa de la Torre / Connecticut Public Radio

Some folks see chipped paint on windowsills and door frames of older Connecticut homes as rustic, New England charm. But it makes public health officials wary.

The U.S. banned lead-based paint for housing in 1978. By then, many homes in the state were already constructed.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

Democrat Jahana Hayes, an educator who rose from poverty and teen motherhood to become a National Teacher of the Year, made her own history Tuesday night as the first black woman elected to Congress from the state of Connecticut.

Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

The nerves are kicking in, said Constanza Segovia, talking politics outside her house in Hartford before Election Day. The stakes are high -- nationally and in the Connecticut gubernatorial race.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

Team Hayes brought out the bullhorn. A League of Women Voters debate was starting in an hour in Danbury, Conn., so a crew of volunteers set up on the side of the road, waving campaign signs at passing cars and chanting about change.

Members of the Greater Hartford Youth Leadership Academy take a photo with Nelba Marquez-Greene, kneeling at right, before boarding a bus headed to a rally in Newtown, Conn. Marquez-Greene's daughter Ana died in the Newtown school shooting.
Vanessa de la Torre / Connecticut Public Radio

Gunfire brought chaos to the West Indian Day Parade in Hartford a decade ago. Some parade goers assumed fireworks — until they saw a kid on the ground.

His head was soaked with blood.

Amar Batra / Connecticut Public Radio

Instead of honoring explorer Christopher Columbus, the second Monday of October will soon be called Indigenous Peoples’ Day on the school calendar in West Hartford.

Vanessa de la Torre / Connecticut Public Radio

A white Hartford police sergeant who was caught on a citizen’s video saying he was “trigger happy” has been demoted and is fighting for his job, city officials said Thursday. 

Vanessa de la Torre / Connecticut Public Radio

Julissa Mota can recall the exact moment when squash — the preppy racquet sport — entered her consciousness.

Visitors had stopped by Julissa's fifth-grade class at M.D. Fox School, a neighborhood school in Hartford's South End. Capitol Squash, an urban squash program, was new and recruiting kids in 2014, so the executive director brought along a coach and a big blue box with racquets inside for the children to pass around.

Vanessa de la Torre / Connecticut Public Radio

Zack and Gillian Petrarca aren’t old enough to vote. But the teenage siblings say they are Team Hayes all the way.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

Tatiana Melendez waited in the shade during a New England heat wave, ready to make a move.

“I got all the information for you, all right,” Melendez, 46, said as she handed a baggie of info to a passerby. “This is very good for you. For everybody doing sex.”

Vanessa de la Torre / Connecticut Public Radio

A sign taped to the door told customers that Story and Soil Coffee was closing early for a staff training.

Vanessa de la Torre / Connecticut Public Radio

Commencement was two days away and Karina Lasalle Arroyo had hauled out nearly seven months’ worth of luggage from her time in Connecticut.

She stood in a dormitory parking lot and confirmed she was ready to go home.

Vanessa de la Torre / Connecticut Public Radio

Faltando dos días para la ceremonia de graduación, Karina Lasalle Arroyo había sacado el equipaje, con un valor de casi siete meses de su permanencia en Connecticut.

Vanessa de la Torre / Connecticut Public Radio

Minutes into touring the Mark Twain House in Hartford, the visitors came across a black-and-white photo of a young Clara Clemens, a daughter of Mark Twain. Soon, it dawned on everyone that Clara looks a lot like Milianis Rivera, a Puerto Rican evacuee.

Vanessa de la Torre / Connecticut Public Radio

Minutos después de entrar a visitar la casa de Mark Twain en Hartford, los visitantes pasaron por una foto blanco y negro de la hija menor de Mark Twain, Clara Clemens de joven. Pronto, fue evidente para todos que Clara se parece mucho a Milianis Rivera, una evacuada puertorriqueña.

Bulkeley High School senior Yeicy Alejandro, smiling at left, talks to her new mentors from Central Connecticut State University. They're in the new "Ambassadors" program - Puerto Rican evacuees helping other students displaced by Hurricane Maria.
Vanessa de la Torre / Connecticut Public Radio

Communications major Marivelisse Acosta attends Central Connecticut State University. But on Wednesday night, she stood in the cafeteria of Hartford’s Bulkeley High School, contemplating what to say as a mentor to the school’s displaced students from Puerto Rico.

Vanessa de la Torre / Connecticut Public Radio

La especialista en comunicaciones Marivelisse Acosta asiste a la Universidad Estatal Central de Connecticut. Pero el miércoles en la noche, estuvo en la cafetería de la Secundaria Bulkeley de Hartford, reflexionando sobre qué decir como tutora a los estudiantes de la escuela desplazados desde Puerto Rico.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

A sprightly “Good morning!” awaited students and parents who approached Sanchez Elementary School on the Friday before spring break.

Maybe the school staff was in an extra good mood? But Merelys Torres, secretary of Sanchez’s parent-teacher organization, said it’s like this every morning. She noticed it right away when her family came to Hartford from Puerto Rico last fall — a sensitive time for her two kids.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

Un animado "¡Buenos días!" esperaba a estudiantes y padres que se acercaban a la Escuela Primaria Sánchez el viernes antes de las vacaciones de primavera.

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