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The original item was published from 6/2/2020 4:03:37 PM to 6/27/2020 12:00:04 AM.

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Posted on: June 2, 2020

[ARCHIVED] JOINT STATEMENT on Police Brutality and Systemic Racism

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We condemn hate crimes, police brutality, and the systemic and pervasive institutional factors that have led to the recent violence and trauma impacting communities of color across the country.

Taking our lead from NAACP President and CEO, Derrick Johnson, we reiterate that “The uprising spreading across this country is fueled by systemic racial issues that have been ingrained in the fabric of this nation.” Systemic racism has brought us to this current moment. The wave of anger and collective action set off by the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis policeman is not happening in a vacuum, but against the backdrop of COVID 19, which has unleashed a wave of xenophobia against the Asian community, laid bare the disparate impact of the virus on communities of color, and highlighted the deep structural inequities and inaccessibility of our current healthcare system.

What we are witnessing right now at these protests, including those taking place right here in Boston, is a legitimate public outcry not only for justice and equality, but also for accountability: of law enforcement officials, of governments, and of ourselves as individuals. The vast majority of these protestors are exercising their right to free speech effectively and peacefully, and it is imperative to not let their message get derailed or criminalized based on the actions of a few violent looters and instigators behaving as spoilers.

We believe that right now, in the immediate aftermath of these protests, the town of Winchester has the responsibility to reaffirm our core values and commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion as penned in our Human Rights Statement. We call on everyone in this community to act as anti-racists and proclaim that our community, united in solidarity across town government, schools, and places of work and worship, has zero tolerance for racism, hatred or exclusion of any kind. This message can be strengthened by working together to process what we are hearing and seeing in the media — at the dinner table, in community conversations, in virtual classrooms, and within faith communities.

Beyond Winchester we can take action towards addressing systemic changes in public safety and policing by letting our elected official, Representative Katherine Clark, know that we support her co-sponsorship of H.Res.988. This Resolution, put forth by Congresswomen Ayanna Pressley and Ilhan Omar, condemns police brutality, racial profiling, and excessive use of force.

While the actions endorsed here represent a more immediate response to the murder of George Floyd and ensuing anguish and protest, we are committed to a longer-term strategy. We envision all of us working together with the entire Winchester community to maintain a focus on systemic racism and inequities, so that our interpersonal actions and institutionalized policies all contribute to a community that lives up to the values of its Human Rights Statement. In doing so we ensure Winchester is fully “grounded in respect for every individual, and therefore protects all residents, employees, business owners, students and visitors in the enjoyment and exercise of human and civil rights.”

Liora Norwich, Executive Director, Network for Social Justice

Lisa Wong, Winchester Town Manager

Michael Bettencourt, Chair, Winchester Select Board

Susan Verdicchio, Vice-Chair, Winchester Select Board

Mariano Goluboff, Winchester Select Board

Jacqueline A. Welch, Winchester Select Board

Amy Shapiro, Winchester Select Board

Judith Evans, Superintendent, Winchester Public Schools

Michelle Bergstrom, Chair, Winchester School Committee

Brian Vernaglia, Vice-Chair, Winchester School Committee

Karen Maruyama Bolognese, Winchester School Committee

Zeina Marchant, Winchester School Committee

Chris Nixon, Winchester School Committee                     




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