Massachusetts Municipal Leaders Pledge to Take Action on Systemic Racism
Mayors and managers demand changes to state oversight; commit to local action on police violence
UPDATE (August 4, 2020): The pledge and the call to action detailed below resonated with many: after MAPC released the pledge, selectpersons, councilors, and other local officials asked how they could express their support. As a result, MAPC is opening up the pledge to elected officials at all levels of city and town government. See the most up-to-date signatures and learn how to sign on here.
For immediate release: Tuesday, July 21, 2020
BOSTON – Mayors and managers from 18 Massachusetts cities and towns today pledged to address systemic racism in their communities and violence in law enforcement.
The group of municipal leaders adopted a set of shared principles, agreed on a menu of local actions and called on state legislators to create a consistent approach to anti-violence and anti-racist policing across the Commonwealth.
“After the recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks and many other people of color who have lost their lives or have been injured as a result of police brutality, our residents are demanding significant changes in the way policing is conducted,” reads the pledge. “We hear them and we are listening. Though our cities and towns differ, all of our residents deserve to feel safe in their homes and on our streets, and now is the time to make these changes a reality in our communities.”
Municipal leaders from Arlington, Ashland, Beverly, Cambridge, Chelsea, Framingham, Holyoke, Medford, Melrose, Middleton, Nantucket, Newburyport, Newton, Revere, Salem, Somerville, Swampscott and Winthrop signed onto the pledge. Somerville Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone, Salem Mayor Kimberley Driscoll, Framingham Mayor Yvonne M. Spicer and Arlington Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine led the effort with the help of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC).
The mayors and managers committed to institute an anti-violence approach to policing in their communities and to provide safe spaces for community input and dialogue about systemic racism and police violence.
The pledge calls on state senators and representatives to advance legislation that reforms the civil service recruitment system; gives cities and towns the flexibility to quickly address misconduct by officers; provides funding for anti-racism training and education programs for municipal workers; and creates an independent authority to investigate and prosecute the use of force by officers. Leaders specifically supported legislation endorsed by the Massachusetts Black and Latino Caucus.
The municipal leaders agreed on five shared principles:
- We agree that systemic racism is a public health emergency, which must be addressed by strong and decisive actions over the coming weeks and months, and by patient and determined efforts years into the future. We are in this now; we are in it for the long haul.
- We acknowledge that racial biases and inequities exist, and we are committed to achieving racial equity and identifying disparities in local municipal services, education, health, housing, transportation, jobs, law enforcement, and youth programming, among others. We are committed to providing safe spaces for community input and dialogue around these issues and we will continue to work together to share best practices and to make progress at the local, state, and federal levels.
- We are committed to instituting an anti-violence approach to policing that prioritizes the safety, health, and well being of all community members, including police officers, as its primary goal. Policing practices that seek to de-escalate conflict, minimize the use of force, avoid false arrest, and establish trust with all residents, especially communities of color, will inform decisions on recruitment, training, promotion, equipment, and tactics.
- We will work to address racism within law enforcement in a proactive, intentional, and consistent manner.
- We will make it a priority to take action now as local governments, and we will also advocate for state and federal policies and funding to enable cities and towns to accomplish the goals of this pledge.
The group of leaders agreed to a menu of actions that will begin the work of embedding anti-violence and anti-racism principles into local government and police forces. Signatories will choose which of these 18 changes make sense to pursue in their communities. Possible steps include requiring de-escalation, applying a “duty to intervene” to all officers, banning the use of chokeholds and strangleholds, and reviewing police budgets to assess whether to allocate funding differently.
Read the full pledge here: https://mapc.ma/municipalpledge.
Town Manager of Arlington
Michael D. Herbert
Town Manager of Ashland
Michael P. Cahill
Mayor of Beverly
Louis A. DePasquale
City Manager of Cambridge
Mayor of Cambridge
Thomas G. Ambrosino
City Manager of Chelsea
Dr. Yvonne M. Spicer
Mayor of Framingham
Mayor of Holyoke
Mayor of Medford
Mayor of Melrose
Town Administrator of Middleton
Town Manager of Nantucket
Mayor of Newburyport
Mayor of Newton
Brian M. Arrigo
Mayor of Revere
Mayor of Salem
Joseph A. Curtatone
Mayor of Somerville
Town Manager of Swampscott
Town Manager of Winthrop
Digital Communications Specialist
Metropolitan Area Planning Council