Local Politics, 20 February 2021

Dear Greylock Together,

“For nine months, Williamstown community members have spoken out, attended every single Select Board meeting to ask questions and force transparency, emailed, called, organized themselves and given (countless) hours of their personal (and collective) time to hold accountable those who contributed to the culture of racism, antisemitism, sexism, sexual assault and retaliation at the Williamstown police department. This is a hopeful moment. This is accountability. My town has much to account for and rebuild. I look forward to a future we can create together under new leadership and with a new relationship between the community and those who serve us.” – Peggy Kern, fellow member of WRJPR 

*See WRJPR’s full statement below in response to the resignation of 
Williamstown’s Town Manager

I have been the beneficiary of serving with WRJPR team members since May 25, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the upheaval of 2020. No matter how many countless, collective hours and meetings and sleepless nights we have shared, they cannot begin to undo the harm that has been done in this community. May our commitment to those closest to the harm and to each other be a model for what a more creative and imaginative vision for community and public safety might mean for Williamstown. May we hold ourselves accountable, create and welcome new systems for communication and oversight, and applaud the growing number of actively engaged citizens who show up, again and again, because of how much they care. 

To all of my amazing fellow Greylock Together friends and teammates, may I offer the most profound gift I’ve received these past 9 months as my activism at the national and state level has turned so necessarily and fiercely to the work right here in my own backyard, the one where I grew up and returned to with my own family 23 years ago. What is happening here in Williamstown is a snapshot of what is happening in small towns, cities and suburban neighborhoods across this fractured country. (Did George Floyd’s murder at Cup Foods—four blocks from my daughter’s apartment in Minneapolis—shake the ground more viscerally beneath this mother’s feet? No doubt. Proximity is often an instant catapult to action.) What better way to impact the national conversation and necessary change in Washington—where white supremacist insurrectionists attempted to destroy our democracy six weeks ago—than to acknowledge the work that must be done on behalf of our very own neighbors who have every right to feel safe and cared for in this place we all call home. The profound lesson: all politics begin locally, as messy and uncomfortable and difficult as the work involved clearly is. When we seek to hold each other to standards of truth and human dignity, we all win. We transform Together. 

In solidarity,

News Release: Williamstown Racial Justice & Police Reform, February 19, 2021

Today our thoughts are with the members of our community who have been so deeply hurt by what we understand to be a longstanding culture of racism, antisemitism, and sexual harassment and assault. We are proud to be part of a community that is taking responsibility to address these harms, and we commit to the work of structural change necessary to ensure that this town’s future includes safety, dignity, and collective responsibility for each other.

We center the lives of the victims in our community so that fewer lives will be victimized in the future. We call out harms as we learn about them, not to create discord, but rather to shine a light on actions that prevent the safety and wellbeing of all of our neighbors. 

We hope that our new Town Manager will uphold Articles 36 & 37 in ways that center those who are and have been marginalized in our community. We know that Williamstown is not exceptional in its exposure to white supremacy and structural racism. 

We firmly believe that the insistence of transparency and accountability from those in leadership positions is a positive development that shows respect for every resident and visitor, regardless of their life experience. 

We encourage broad community participation in articulating the qualities and recruitment of the next Town Manager. We hope residents and leaders will closely examine the vestiges of our town policies and Charter; to imagine creative improvements together will open Williamstown and its many gifts to others for decades to come.  In order to heal our community, may we be reminded of author and educator Michelle Alexander’s words from Thursday’s Claiming Williams Day at Williams College: From Racial Injustice to Restoration —

“There is no justice after the fact, but we can make the promise to minimize the chance that harm like this will never happen again.”

Want to stay connected to WRJPR?
Subscribe to WRJPR’s weekly newsletter and forward to a friend. Our website is also a great place for easy access to links to attend DIRE (Diversity, Inclusion & Racial Equity Committee) and Select Board meetings via zoom.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.