On Wednesday, July 22, Winthrop Town Manager Austin Faison added his name to a list of 18 mayors and town managers from Massachusetts in a pledge to end systemic racism and police violence.
Faison joins municipal leaders of Arlington, Ashland, Beverly, Cambridge, Chelsea, Framingham, Holyoke, Medford, Melrose, Middleton, Nantucket, Newburyport, Newton, Revere, Salem, Somerville and Swampscott.
Systemic racism (also known as institutional racism) is racism that is woven into societal norms and institutions, and can lead to discriminatory practices in every stage of the criminal justice system, from stops and arrests to sentencing and parole.
The pledge was initiated by residents across the Commonwealth demanding change in the wake of recent killings of Black and Brown individuals by police officers. It’s divided into three sections: principles, legislative items, and local policies.
The five basic principles underlying the pledge are that systemic racism is a public health emergency, that racial inequity in municipal services must be identified, that police violence must end, that racism in law enforcement must be addressed, and that urgent action is required.
The pledge suggests five legislative actions on a state level: independently investigate use of force by officers, create a commission on structural racism and statutory limits on police use of force, back legislation endorsed by the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus, secure funding for anti-racism training, empower municipalities to quickly address police misconduct, and revamp the civil service recruitment process.
The pledge presents 18 policies that towns and cities can start adopting right away. These were informed by existing campaigns such as #8CantWait and Campaign Zero and include a duty to intervene, banning chokeholds, reallocating police budgets and hiring more people of color.
Town Manager Faison previously stated that he is committed to working toward a better relationship between the police and the community.
“I’m excited that there is a regional approach to our policing policies and procedures,” he told the Transcript in an email. “There are many municipalities within the region and it is useful to have similar baselines.”
The full pledge can be read online here.