Sunrise Amherst stands with the Progressive Coalition of Amherst and the BIPOC community in condemning the statements by At-Large Councilor Mandi Jo-Hanneke at the Town Council’s October 4 meeting. We disagree with Councillor Hanneke’s premise that by including a majority of BIPOC voices on the newly-formed Community Safety and Social Justice Committee (CSSJ), we are decreasing the representation and rights of White residents. In fact, we believe exactly the opposite is true: that when we include more BIPOC voices on this committee, it will serve to the betterment and inclusion of all residents.
We appreciate the efforts of the Town Manager, other councilors, and town staff to establish a committee following in the footsteps of the Community Safety Working Group (CSWG). People of color and other marginalized groups are often unsafe, and feel threatened during police interactions. These groups are also often unserved by the police department.
The CSSJ aims to continue the work of the CSWG and incorporate a broad social justice lens into the decisions made in local government. Sunrise Amherst believes that a 5/7 BIPOC majority on this committee is essential to having justice-centered decision making, and creating a space that is welcoming to those sharing difficult experiences.
For the same reason, we also believe that those who have a disadvantaged socioeconomic status, are a part of the LGBT community, or who have a disability, should be preferred for seats on this committee. When the underserved among us are uplifted, the entire community benefits, including those who are White.
Sunrise Amherst stands in opposition to Councilor Hanneke’s biased opinion and looks forward to seeing the majority inclusion of marginalized voices on this newly formed committee.
Marisol Pierce Bonifaz on behalf of Amherst Sunrise