Public Comment: Amherst’s Embrace Of Reparations Will Inspire Other Communities To Do The Same

Photo: Tyler Merbler / Creative Commons

The following public comment was made at the Town Council meeting of June 21, 2021.

My name is Michele Miller and I’m a District One resident and co-founder of Reparations for Amherst. Tonight I’m speaking on behalf of myself and R4A co-founder Matthew Andrews. 

We want to thank the Town Council, GOL committee, and the Finance Committee and staff for their leadership. Today NPR reported that 11 U.S. mayors committed to developing pilot projects for reparations. Their stated goal is for these reparations programs to serve as high-profile demonstrations for how the country can more quickly move from conversation to action on reparations for Black Americans. In a news conference, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said, “Let me be clear: Cities will never have the funds to pay for reparations on our own”….and went on to say, “when we have the laboratories of cities show that there is much more to embrace then to fear, we know that we can inspire national action as well.” If the council votes tonight to establish a reparations committee and a stabilization fund to be used for reparative justice, Amherst will become a reason for other communities and our federal government to take long overdue action, and your actions will lay the foundation for our community to begin a collaborative healing process. 

We’re also here to comment on the Community Safety Working Group recommendations. We’re proud of our community for taking this critical work on and grateful to the members of the CSWG for their dedication and resilience, in the midst of a very challenging process. After 6 months of study the Community Safety Working Group has provided the Town Council with recommendations that are necessary to make substantive change to community safety for Amherst residents (and visitors). We urge the Town Council and Town Manager to establish an implementation plan, including identifying revenue streams, to fully support their recommendations. Without delay, please help us to see that you are committed to prioritizing community safety for all Amherst residents and will establish a rigorous pace for implementation of the recommendations. 

Michele Miller is a resident of District One and Co-founder of Reparations For Amherst

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