Tag Archive for: racism

People carry a Black Lives Matter during a vigil in memory of Garrett Foster lastsunday in Austin Texas.
People carry a Black Lives Matter during a vigil in memory of Garrett Foster lastsunday in Austin Texas.

Truths about Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter and seeking change is not “anti-police”, it is pro-community

Sun | Page B01 and B02 Sunday, 2 August 2020

By Karen Frederick, CEO Community Teamwork

An opinion piece that recently ran in this paper accused peaceful protests about racial injustice of being “ anti- police” — a common attack we have heard on the Black Lives Matter movement for years. Being an advocate for reform, training, and enhanced social service capacity is not “ anti- police.” It is pro- community.

Support centered on Black Lives Matter, commonly referred to as BLM, is a national movement. I could not disagree more with the author of the oped. Citizens and elected representatives, like Congresswoman Lori Trahan, seek constructive change.

So, here is the truth about the movement that the author of the negative op- ed elected to ignore.

As a result of the BLM movement, communities across our country are engaged in long overdue conversations about racial disparities rooted in hundreds of years of discriminatory practices, policies and laws that continue to negatively impact the Black community.

These disparities have real consequences. The committee’s selection is based on three criteria: running skills, teamwork and leadership. The Black community endures higher rates of unemployment and poverty. And they live at a greater risk of homelessness than their neighbors. Of course, these challenges are only made worse by the global pandemic we currently face.

Community Teamwork staff and I have witnessed these struggles firsthand in our work with families and individuals throughout the Greater Lowell region during the COVID pandemic.

BLM and its supporters like me are far from “ anti- police”; so too are the elected officials that the op- ed author labels as such. From the day she was elected, Trahan has been a tireless Community Teamwork advocate and partner. She cares deeply for her hometown of Lowell and all the communities she represents. Her support for Community Teamwork has never wavered. In fact, it is because of that support, along with that of Senator Ed Kennedy and Representative Jim Arciero ( among our many bipartisan supporters) that Community Teamwork can strengthen its programs.

Together, their support and advocacy helped us garner the resources to address the critical needs of low- income people in the 70 cities and towns we serve.

Our clients are fortunate to have leaders like them representing us. These are challenging times. Yes, Black Lives Matter and seeking change is not “anti-police”. It is constructive leadership. Karen Frederick of Dracut is CEO of Community Teamwork.

People carry a Black Lives Matter during a vigil in memory of Garrett Foster last sunday in Austin, Texas.


2 City Councilors Resign from CTI Board in Wake of Racism Vote

by Elizabeth Dobbins Lowell Sun

Newly elected and sworn In Lowell City Councilors L-R, front row, Rodney M. Elliott, Rita M. Mercier(Vice Mayor), John J. Leahy (Mayor), John Drinkwater, back row, Daniel P. Rourke, Sokhary Chau, David J. Conway, Vesna Nuon and William Bill Samaras. SUN/ David H. Brow

LOWELL — Veteran City Councilors Rodney Elliott and Rita Mercier said they would step down from Community Teamwork Inc.’s board of directors after voting against a motion to declare racism a public health crisis in Lowell — a declaration CTI vocally supported.

“I thought it would be better if I resigned and I could not be an effective board member,” Elliott said.

CTI Chief Executive Officer Karen Frederick said she intends to reach out to the councilors and speak to them directly.

“I am grateful for the time they’ve been on the board and I respect their decision,” she said.

She said she has not yet received their official letters of resignation. CTI is a prominent Lowell non-profit, which “mobilize(s) resources for low-income people, providing opportunities for them to achieve stability, self-sufficiency and have an active voice and participation in the decisions that affect their lives.”

Elliott said he has been on the board for eight years. Mercier has been on the board 14 years.

CTI issued a statement in support of a letter drafted by Merrimack Valley Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, which called for the declaration of racism as a public health crisis among other reforms.

“These declarations are an important first step in the movement to advance racial equity and justice and must be followed by allocation of resources and strategic action,” read a statement emailed out by the organization. “For these reasons Community Teamwork is in support of the efforts of the Merrimack Valley and Lowell Diversity Equity and Inclusion Consortium and is urging the city of Lowell to also take this first step and declare racism as a public health crisis.”

Mercier and Elliott instead supported a resolution regarding racism that stopped short of labeling it as a public health crisis, during a contentious City Council meeting Tuesday night. A sentence on the CTI website said this alternate motion “commits to no actual change in business as usual.”

Elliott said calling for a declaration of racism as a public health crisis in the city exposes Lowell to a “potential liability.”

At the meeting on Tuesday night, City Solicitor Christine O’Connor said a specific finding by the City Council on a declaration of racism as a public health crisis could have an “adverse impact” for future lawsuits against the city. Framing the motion as a response to a larger, national issue would avoid this issue, she said.

Elliott also took issue with an email sent by Carl Howell, which called the resolution Elliott supported “dismissive, tone deaf and non-committal” and urged the council to be on the “right side of history.”

While Howell is an employee of CTI — the division director of housing & homeless services — he sent the email as an individual.

Elliott said he felt calling his resolution “tone deaf” was a personal criticism.

“I feel I am on the right side (of history). … I’ve listened to people for 23 years as a city councilor,” he said.

Mercier also took issue with Howell’s email.

“People shouldn’t have taken this personal and yet they did,” she said.

She said she does not like to be disrespected and she is not a racist.

“You can call me any name you want, Elizabeth,” Mercier said, referring to the Sun reporter she was addressing. “Don’t call me a racist and that’s what that man was implying.”

Howell did not respond to two emails seeking comment.

Prior to the vote, CTI posted on social media a notice reminding residents of the vote. Part of the notice read, “There is an alternate motion that commits to no actual change in business as usual.”

That was Elliot’s motion and he took offense to it.

Elliott said he believes CTI helps many people in need and wishes the organization well.

Mercier and Elliott were appointed to the CTI board of directors by Mayor John Leahy earlier this year, though Frederick said this was an oversight and is not how people are appointed to the board anymore. The two councilors’ appointments continued from previous years.

Frederick said the board meets again in September and is expected to select another councilor, or councilor’s representative, and community member to fill the spots.

She said CTI plans to continue to work with the city.

“We are good partners,” she said. “We differed on an issue. I think that’s just the world.”

Leahy said the resignations during the City Council meeting came off as “foolish” and he believes the councilors could have waited until the next day.

“If you’re in politics, we take the criticism along with the praise,” he said.

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