Northampton, MA – This Thursday, November 17th at 7 p.m., the Northampton City Council will consider a resolution that commits Northampton to being a “hate-free zone.” Co-sponsored by Ward 7 City Councilor Alisa F. Klein, Ward 1 City Councilor Maureen T. Carney, Ward 4 City Councilor Gina-Louise Sciarra, and Ward 6 City Councilor Marianne LaBarge, the resolution refers to the presidential election climate as having exposed long-standing bigotry in American society, and cites the racist and anti-Semitic symbols and slogans recently removed from Mt. Tom as an example of local expressions of identity-based hatred. The resolution calls for members of the Northampton community to, “take the necessary and courageous steps to prevent and respond to discrimination and hatred whenever and wherever they see it.”
“It felt imperative that the Council act with urgency to address the upsurge in bigotry both locally and nationally and make clear that Northampton is a community that not only rejects hatred, but is safe for people of all racial, religious, and ethnic backgrounds and will not allow discrimination based on sexual and gender identity or immigration status,” says City Councilor Alisa Klein. “This City is committed to being a place where all people can live free of harassment, violence, and fear,” says Councilor Maureen Carney.
Councilor Sciarra adds, “Many people in Northampton and beyond are asking what they can do. One thing we all can do is speak out against rhetoric and actions based in hate. It is vital that we make clear to both those that are fearful and those who would wish to engender fear that it will have no place here in Northampton.”
The resolution states that the City Council will hold state and federal leaders accountable to upholding a commitment to rejecting and preventing bigotry and commits to sending the document, when ratified, to state and federal legislators including President Barack Obama and President-Elect Trump. “We are determined to influence our leaders and policymakers at the highest level,” said Klein, “because right now it feels like they need to understand that local communities are absolutely committed to pushing back against the current climate of hatred engendered by the expressed politics of the President-Elect.”
All members of the public are encouraged to attend the meeting to offer their thoughts on the resolution during the City Council meeting’s public comment period at 7 p.m.