The Revere Human Rights Commission (HRC) held its regular monthly meeting last Thursday evening, May 5, in City Council Chambers.
President Janine Grillo Marra and fellow Commissioners Lynn Alexis, Fire Chief Chris Bright, Police Chief David Callahan, Rachid Moukhabir, Kourou Pich, Vice President Chai Hossani, Reverend Timothy Bogertman, Kathi-Anne Reinstein and Dr. Lourenco Garcia were present. , as well as HRC Executive Director Dr. Maritsa Barros, EdD, who was recently appointed as the City’s Chief Talent and Culture Officer.
Marra introduced the commission’s newest member, attorney Revere Molly McGee, who practices criminal and immigration law.
Mayor Brian Arrigo, city attorney Paul Capizzi and the mayor’s chief of staff, Kim Hanton, were also among the meeting audience.
Marra started the meeting by saying, “We’ve had some ‘interesting’ meetings over the past few months,” referring to the public disruptions that have occurred at HRC meetings since December that have led to hasty adjournments. Marra then posted a cartoon, which showed a group of office workers sitting at a conference table, with the caption: “Since we can’t agree to disagree, how about we don’t okay on the deal?”
“The bottom line is that we wanted to have a respectful and orderly meeting to conduct our business,” Marra said. “We will make sure that anyone who has come here who wants to speak, that there is time for members of the audience to speak, so that no one has to shout or be disruptive.
“If we can’t conduct our business, that will be considered disruptive behavior,” said Marra, who then referenced the state’s open meeting law, which provides a definition of disruptive behavior. “Everyone must remain silent until the end of the meeting.”
The meeting began with the regular Land Acknowledgment, in which Marra presented a map of the southern New England region showing the various indigenous peoples who occupied the land before the arrival of European settlers. The Pawtucket tribe lived on the lands of present-day Revere.
“Let’s take a moment to recognize, remember and honor those who settled here first,” Marra said.
Pich then took to the microphone to acknowledge that May 5 is National Awareness Day for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples, Especially Women.
“We encourage everyone to spread this awareness,” Pich said.
Marra then led the room through the “Arrive and Settle In” part of the meeting, which is essentially a group meditation session. Marra deviated from the usual practice and read aloud a quote from Martin Luther King Jr.:
“I am convinced that people hate each other because they fear each other. They fear each other because they don’t know each other. And they don’t know each other because they don’t communicate with each other. And they don’t communicate with each other because they are separated from each other.
“So let’s take a few moments and let those words sink in,” Marra said. After a few moments, Marra then rang a bell to signal the end of the silent meditation session.
Barros then gave an update on his various current and past projects.
“I want to reiterate Madam President’s call to order in this space as we try to work through our discourse. We welcome differences of opinion, but ask for civility,” Barros said.
Speaking about the recent 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge, Barros noted that a total of 46 city employees and 66 public school employees participated in the event. Barros thanked those who participated and said she hopes to expand the program citywide in the future.
“In June we are planning Pride Month and June 19th. We have a Pride flag raising scheduled for 5 p.m. on June 1 and there will be educational opportunities for Juneteenth,” Barros noted.
She also noted that the Racial Equity Municipal Action Plan (REMAP) program in the city is ongoing and there will be a presentation at the June HRC meeting.
Chief Callahan then took the stage to note that someone in the audience was proving to be distracting, prompting Marra to warn that members of the public must be quiet or they will be asked to leave.
Marra then mentioned the idea of creating working groups of curators who would work on specific areas, such as cultural events and celebrations and education outreach, which have already been established, and a new group that would be tasked with creating a “format for a greater public forum or even mediation outside of our meeting.
Barros then stated the importance of public support and asked for the public’s input on how the community can collaborate with the HRC.
“Working groups are the way to go,” Garcia noted and suggested that the education outreach group should also encompass the concept of evaluation which would involve data collection.
The commission then discussed whether evaluation should be a separate group or be included in each working group.
Hossani suggested that it would be “more efficient to integrate it (data collection) into each working group”.
Commissioners have been back and forth on how best to achieve their goals by creating task forces. Ultimately, the commission established a new working group, known as the Evaluation Working Group, and a working group, known as the Public Mediation Working Group.
Barros also added, “We need a system for people to share their thoughts and experiences on bias,” and suggested the creation of a bias education response team. prejudices.
Following the discussion, the committee voted to create the three working groups, plus the working group: Hossani, Moukhabir and Chief Bright were appointed to the Cultural Events and Celebrations group; Pich, Alexis and Reinstein were appointed to the Education and Outreach group; McGee, Hossani, Pich and Garcia were appointed to the evaluation working group; and Alexis and McGee were appointed to the Public Mediation Task Force.
The commission, at Reinstein’s suggestion, then read aloud the HRC’s mission statement:
“The mission of the Revere Human Rights Commission is to promote human and civil rights and to empower all people in Revere by ensuring that everyone, especially the most vulnerable and marginalized, have equitable opportunities, access equal and be treated with dignity, respect, fairness, and justice”.
Barros then asked if any committee members had any suggestions for the Pride Month and June 19 celebrations.
Hossani suggested the city bring in black artists to exhibit their work. Reinstein suggested that black-owned businesses also be highlighted for Juneteenth.
Grillo then opened the meeting to public debate, but with the caveat that the speakers touch on the topics that were discussed during the meeting. The rest of the meeting, which lasted about 22 minutes, was made up of comments from members of the public in attendance.
Revere resident Ed Deveau, 216 Crescent Ave., (who wrote a thoughtful letter to the editor in support of HRC that appeared in the Revere Journal three weeks ago), offered his support for the group.
Tom Bellingham was the next speaker and suggested that the city rent ice cream trucks for its cultural events. “The free ice cream will bring people together for these events,” he said.
Janet Long of 360 Revere Beach Blvd. who said she moved to Revere from Lynnfield five years ago, said she was: ‘Filled with honor and impressed with the quality of talent on this team and I love the work you do. The reason I came to Revere was for its diversity of ideas and people. I want to be a part of it and see our community grow stronger and stronger.
Revere resident Gina Castiello, then spoke.
“We are talking about cultural events and celebrations. I happen to be of Italian descent. This group is solely responsible for stopping Columbus Day and calling it Indigenous Peoples Day. It’s not all-inclusive,” she said.
Castiello then spoke of her opposition to what she said was “the emphasis on promoting critical race theory and Black Lives Matter. It is contrary to my personal values to teach these things to our children through our school system and this commission contributes to that. I personally disapprove of it and I know a lot of people in this community disapprove of it. I am happy to be heard and to draw attention to this racist human rights commission which must be abolished.
The next speaker was someone who signed up as “Mary Santos,” who was decked out in a costume-worthy hat. “There is so much tension in the room. We came to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, as you can see from my hat,” she said. However, she then made comments, which she called jokes, that some might consider derogatory of the Mexican-American community.
Another person, who said her last name was Beltran and lived on Ocean Ave., came to the podium and spoke in Spanish. She was accompanied by a translator. Among her comments, Ms Beltran said that some of those present treated her better in this country than she was treated by people in her native country.
Ina Tall, a resident of 100 Florence Ave., spoke next.
“It’s an honor to be here,” she said. “You are really doing a great job. The mayor has really chosen the best to be appointed to this position. I’m really happy that you represent our city so well. Even though we have people coming from out of town to disrupt us, we should take Michelle Obama’s advice: “When they go low, we go high.”
“Yeah, it’s a beautiful city,” Tall continued. “I came from West Africa 26 years ago. My daughter goes to high school. To see people coming from outside and laughing at us is offensive. Before you come to poke fun at a holiday, do some research on that holiday. Education is the key.
Audience members then became disruptive, prompting Chief Callahan to call for someone to be kicked out. However, Tall suggested the person be ignored.
Resident Gina Ambrosino was the last speaker.
“I’m not in favor of HRC and I don’t like the way they infiltrate the school department,” she said. “My son comes home with stuff that doesn’t make sense to me. I didn’t raise him to be racist and he gets along with everyone. I don’t like what’s going on. is happening and I don’t agree with that and I don’t want my son to be taught that, so we need this public mediation.
The next HRC meeting is scheduled for Thursday, June 2.