Tanya McDowell—already facing a first-degree larceny charge for enrolling her son in a Norwalk school without being a city resident—was arraigned Monday in state Superior Court in Norwalk for posession and sale of narcotics.
McDowell appeared before Judge Bruce P. Hudock, who kept her combined bonds on the new charges, set by Norwalk Police, at $200,000.
Following her appearance, her attorney, Darnell D. Crosland, said Norwalk Police had targeted her for arrest.
"I'm outraged by what I'm seeing here," Crosland told a group of reporters in front of the courthouse following the arraignment.
McDowell had three arrest warrants outstanding when Special Services officers took her into custody Friday on Chestnut Street in the area of the Columbus Magnet School. The officers reported that at the time of her arrest, she was carrying narcotics for sale, which resulted in additional charges against her.
Assistant State's Attorney Tiffany Lockshier told Hudock McDowell was in possession of 30 small bags of marijuana and 23 bags of crack cocaine.
On Saturday, Police Chief Harry W. Rilling said officers have been observing her selling drugs in South Norwalk for weeks, and no one should expect to be able to do that "with impunity" on Norwalk streets. He said there are also two arrest warrants pending for McDowell in Bridgeport.
McDowell was charged in April with first-degree larceny for registering her 6-year-old son in Brookside Elementary School while allegedly not a Norwalk resident. She has said she is homeless and spends time in Bridgeport and Norwalk.
Her situation has drawn national attention, with proponents arguing for fairness in dealing with a homeless woman who wanted to get her 6-year-old son an education.
Police on Friday gave her address as 66 Priscilla Circle in Bridgeport.
McDowell was also arrested in November 2010 on numerous narcotics charges.
The warrants executed Friday charge her with several dozen counts of manufacturing, distributing, possessing and selling narcotics, and doing so within the vicinity of a school.
At McDowell's last appearance court appearance, when she was arraigned on the larceny charge, Crosland told Hudock that according to officials with the state's Alternatives to Incarceration program, McDowell had passed all of its requirements with flying colors, including urinalysis tests to confirm she is no longer taking drugs.
Last Tuesday, McDowell's case was the centerpiece of an "Equal Education for All" rally organized by the state national conference and Norwalk chapter of the N.A.A.C.P.
Scot X. Esdaile, president of the state conference, asked the crowd to pray for McDowell. Well-known civil rights activist Al Sharpton spoke mostly on broad themes about education and separated himself from McDowell, saying he was still looking into the case. "Let the chips fall," Sharpton said, regarding McDowell's situation.
McDowell says her son now attends a Bridgeport school.
In arguing that McDowell's combined bonds should remain at $200,000, Lockshear challenged Crosland's claim that his client was not a threat to the community, noting that police arrested her selling drugs near a school. Lockshear also pointed to the fact that McDowell has previous convictions for first-degree robbery and possession of a weapon in a motor vehicle.
Concerning his client's alleged activities so soon after being charged with felony larceny, Crosland said McDowell doesn't make the brightest decisions, but if everyone made the brightest decisions, "I would'nt have any clients."
McDowell was released from custody on the larceny charge after posting a $25,000 bond and Crosland argued no additional bond should be placed against her for the new charges.
I hope she will be able to go home and care for her child, Crosland told Hudock.
Hudock said all of McDowell's cases would be combined and then continued to July 25.
Outside the courthouse, Crosland said, "The whole thing stinks. I think the whole community should be disappointed."