Solidarity Lowell is a coalition of community members of Greater Lowell working towards social justice and standing together against hate and discrimination.

Join our mailing list!

Help Marius Cover His Lawyer's Fees and Stay in the Country

Marius is a Togolese asylum-seeker, who has recently moved to Lowell to fight for asylum in the Boston federal immigration courts. Marius comes from a family of political dissidents fighting for greater democracy, and was forced to flee his country after his parents were murdered by the government. He has been threatened everywhere he's tried to rebuild his life, and last year decided to journey across South and North America to seek asylum in the United States. But Marius cannot do it alone. The Merrimack Valley Interfaith Sanctuary Network is providing housing for him, but he also needs funds for legal, medical and living expenses. We need to raise $500/month for his living expenses, plus at least $2000 in lawyer’s fees so any amount you can donate is greatly appreciated.

 

Use THIS donation button to make a tax-deductible donation (please write “asylum” in the “special notes” part of the donation form).

For more information and for a non-tax-deductible way to donate, here is the GoFundMe page.

From the Rapid Response Team

RAPID RESPONSE TEAM ACTION LIST FOR FEB 19, 2021

The RRT (Rapid Response Team) Action List compiles action items from the week and upcoming events into one place. If you would like to add anything to the weekly update, please send it to Dee Halzack at dee@solidaritylowell.com.

BE CAREFUL OUT THERE FOR THE SAFETY OF YOURSELF AND EVERYONE YOU KNOW!

Priority Actions

Help Pass Legislation to Seal Eviction Records

Senator Joe Boncore and Representative Mike Moran have refiled the HOMES Act (Housing Opportunities and Mobility through Eviction Sealing). Since 1988, over 1 million eviction cases have been filed in Massachusetts.  It is time that people who have faced eviction are given a second chance and not held hostage to an eviction record.

ACTION NEEDED: Please contact your Senator and Representative and urge them to co-sponsor the Housing Opportunity and Mobility through Eviction Sealing bills (HOMES), SD 798 & HD 1889.

FACT SHEET: Here is a fact sheet https://www.passthehomesact.org/uploads/2/7/0/4/27042339/homes_bill_co-sponsor_fact_sheet_2.17.pdf
with talking points and bills numbers. This session, the window for co-sponsorship closes when the bill emerges from its initial committee assignment, but the earlier we can build a list of co-sponsors the better to show support for the bill.

Please email and/or call your Senator and Representative urging them to co-sponsor the bill. The more co-sponsors are lined up, the stronger the chance a bill has of passing.

As City Councilor Lydia Edwards wrote in a Globe op-ed: “Since the state’s eviction moratorium ended, over 8,000 eviction cases have been filed in Massachusetts. Each will be a permanent public record. As the pandemic continues to devastate our communities and joblessness continues to climb, that number will only grow.” See op-ed https://www.bostonglobe.com/2021/02/16/opinion/baker-should-seal-eviction-records-give-residents-second-chance/.

If you have any questions, contact Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (info@mlri.org) and ask for Molly Broderick.

Solidarity Lowell Events and Actions

Have a few minutes to take action? Do you like Postcarding? 

Solidarity Lowell is re-starting our postcarding events virtually on Zoom. Send postcards to legislators and officials to support issues you care about.

Please fill out the following form if you’re interested in joining the group!
https://forms.gle/h2V7gJ1e2WbY9dKU9

Next Solidarity Lowell General Meeting

Sunday February 28, 5:30pm, via Zoom
– Main Topic: The Environment: Heat Islands
– Interim Clean Energy and Climate Plan for 2030
Send us a message to get the Zoom link.

Local Events and Actions

March for Moses

Saturday February 20, 12:00-2:00pm (rain or shine)
850 Lawrence Street, Lowell
March to Lowell Police Headquarters (JFK Plaza/Arcand Drive)

Demand justice for Moses Harris, who disappeared during an encounter with the police. No police report has been made public as of publication date.

Hosted by CAJE: Community Advocates for Justice and Equality https://www.facebook.com/CAJE.LowellMA

Wrongly Convicted: The Story of Victor and Beverly Rosario

Tuesday, February 23, 9:30-10:45am
Victor Rosario was wrongly convicted in 1982 of setting a deadly house fire in Lowell, Massachusetts. Throughout his 32 years of incarceration, Rosario steadfastly maintained he was innocent of setting the fire, which killed eight people, five of them children. Rosario’s only connection to the fire was that of an eyewitness: he walked past the blaze on his way home, even attempting to break a window in the hopes of helping to free the people trapped inside. Two days later, he was the prime suspect. Victor Rosario and his wife, Beverly, will describe their experiences of wrongful conviction and eventual exoneration, in the context of the larger criminal justice system.

To register for the event, please visit http://www.uml.edu/greeley-rosario

For more information, contact FAHSS@uml.edu.

Next City Council Meeting (every 2 weeks, on Tuesday at 6:30pm)

Tuesday, February 23, 6:30pm

At the beginning of the emergency, the City Council voted to meet every 2 weeks to facilitate safe distancing. Watch the meeting on LTC (Channel 99 or https://www.ltc.org/watch/channel-99/). Members wishing to speak regarding a specific agenda item shall register to speak in advance by sending an email to the City Clerk indicating the agenda item and a phone number to call so that they may be issued a Zoom link in to the meeting.  Email address is MGEARY@LOWELLMA.GOV.  If no access to email you may contact City Clerk at 978-674-4161. (Note: they will keep you in the waiting room until it’s your turn to speak, so in order to follow the meeting you need to listen on TV, but turn that off when you speak because there’s a delay on the speakers.)

The agenda will be posted at  http://lowellma.gov/agendacenter by the Friday before, February 19. Look under City Council, look for the date of the meeting of interest, click on Download, and select the version (HTML, PDF, or packet, which includes background) you want to see.

Virtual Public Neighborhood Meetings on Parking Study to be conducted in the city

The City of Lowell is using a Housing Choice Grant award from the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development (EOHED) to conduct a comprehensive parking study.

The Lowell Parking Study will review and analyze existing parking conditions, including parking inventory, utilization, policies, management, regulations, and pricing, and analyze the parking supply and demand compared to existing land uses. The Parking Study will help ensure that the parking system is consistent with the City’s economic development and transportation planning goals, including the ongoing GoLowell Multimodal Complete Streets plan.

An overview of the project has been held. Neighborhood meetings are also scheduled.  The project team wants to hear from folks about parking issues and concerns in their neighborhoods as well as potential opportunities to improve parking in Lowell.

Feb. 24, 6:30pm–Pawtucketville/Centralville
Register in advance for this meeting:
https://lowellma.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZUoceqtpzMvGtzDMw_GW3xkTLfdka56yqUN

Feb. 25, 6:30pm –Back Central, Acre, Highlands
Register in advance for this meeting:
https://lowellma.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZMkce6gpz4tEtQwYt7wTqNiw9ZQ6Z67rOWs

Weekly LLAMA Housing Advocacy Meeting

Thursday, February 25, 5pm (now meeting bi-weekly)
Concerned about the eviction crisis in Lowell? Would you like to join a group working on ways to address it? This is the group. Current plans include publication of a resource booklet, a simple flier with steps for folks facing eviction, and neighborhood organizing.
978-222-7877 lowellhousingaction@riseup.net

Watch for an announcement of the next meeting, with Zoom link at
https://www.facebook.com/groups/2658623527701727/

Or contact the group via the phone number.

 

Next Sustainability Council Meeting (4th Thursday of every month)

Thursday, February 25, 6:30pm

 

Lowell Votes seeks volunteers to help register and educate voters and find candidates

http://www.lowellvotes.org
Next meeting: March 2, 2pm

Now that we’ll actually have a more equitable electoral system in the city, we need to help voters understand that their vote will matter in this election, help them understand the system and register to vote.

Next School Committee meeting (every 2 weeks on Wednesday at 6:30pm)

Wednesday, March 3, 6:30pm

DEI Lowell Survey on Experiences in Lowell

The DEI Consortium- Lowell is collecting data on applicants’ experience with applying to opportunities within the City of Lowell and/or the Lowell Public Schools (LPS). The survey has been provided in English, Spanish, Portuguese and Khmer.

English: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PZG59LC
Spanish: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PHCN2QB
Portuguese: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/6Q7LZPK
Khmer: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ZKLRLZB

If you have applied multiple times, you may take this survey more than once if desired. Please note that some questions, such as demographics, are optional. However, answering as many questions as you are comfortable with will help us better understand the applicant experience within the City as well as LPS.

While we may share trends and insights from this survey, we will not share information identifying any individual, including contact information (which is optional) or any information unique to an individual.

Furthermore, if you prefer to share your experience directly with the DEI Consortium, please contact us at dei.lowell.ma@gmail.com.

We thank you for making the time to take this survey and encourage you to share this survey with your friends, family, or colleagues here in the City of Lowell.

Write to City Councilors with your concern about their proposal to change election of Mayor and School Committee

In the November 24 City Council meeting, Councilor Elliott requested a discussion of the process of changing the system of electing the mayor to allow voters to decide (currently city councilors elect the mayor from among themselves).

On December 22, Council Rourke made a motion asking the City Manager to “Have Law Dept. Propose To The Plaintiffs’ Counsel Of Voting Rights Litigation To Have School Committee Elected Using The Same 8 Districts Created For The City Council, With The Mayor Being Elected As The 9th Member Of The Committee.”

In the January 26 City Council Meeting, City Manager Donoghue reported back on the Law Departments findings on the matter, that plaintiffs in the lawsuit were open to discussing the matter but wanted to wait until the results of the next election. Some councilors pointed out that plaintiffs in the lawsuit should be involved in any discussion of changes, since the system had already been decided on in settling the lawsuit. The Council then voted 6-2 to support changing the method of selecting the mayor and 7-1 to change the method of voting for school committee.

https://www.lowellsun.com/2021/01/26/lowell-city-council-to-seek-changes-to-voting-rights-consent-decree/

We urge you to write to city councilors expressing your concern about their January 26 vote to make changes to our electoral system, one we already voted on.

Webform to reach councilors:
https://www.lowellma.gov/FormCenter/Contact-the-City-Council-5/City-Council-Contact-Form-45

Sample Template:
Regarding the recent vote at the January 26 City Council meeting to change our agreed-upon new electoral system, it is disappointing that City Council seems to be choosing to change the system agreed on by voters in the city without input from the plaintiffs to the lawsuit or the voters.  Are City Councilors not aware that Lowell’s at-large system has been a contributing factor in the loss of trust and engagement in the local democratic process among many community members?

Representation is important. Our new electoral system was agreed on in order to provide diverse people from all parts of our city with a fair chance at being elected to city council and to ensure that at least two councilors be from minority communities.  While this is fairer, the three at large seats will still be easier for long-time councilors from the same district as always to win. And because they are better known, it will also be easier for those same long-time councilors to win an election for mayor when the vote is put to the people of the city. Far from being fairer, an election for mayor put to the vote of the entire electorate of the city will undo the intent of the lawsuit’s settlement.

I urge you NOT to change the way the mayor is elected, especially not before the first election with new district councilors.

Contact City Councilors Seeking Justice for Moses Harris

We ask that you contact city councilors regarding the incident with Moses Harris to ask for an independent investigation.

Form to contact Lowell City Councilors: https://www.lowellma.gov/FormCenter/Contact-the-City-Council-5/City-Council-Contact-Form-45

Sample Script: “Hello, this is [Name] calling from [Address, City, State, ZIP] and Solidarity Lowell. The disappearance of Moses Harris in Lowell should be the subject of an independent investigation.  Moses Harris disappeared into the Concord River on December 19th during an encounter with the Lowell Police. No one has seen Moses since. The Harris-Wahpo family has been seeking answers about the incident, and the police have yet to release the police report. I ask that you call for an independent investigation of this incident, and find out which department policies were followed or violated that allowed this to happen. Thank you!”

NOTE: It is important that you include your full name and address (including ZIP code).

City Hall Closed to the Public

City Hall is now closed to the public due to the status of the pandemic in our city.

Other Events

Live with the 19th!: Black Women, Power and the Ballot

Friday, February 23, 1pm EST

Join The 19th’s Editor-at-large Errin Haines on Friday, Feb. 19 at 12 p.m. CT/1 p.m. ET. for a conversation on Black women organizing, voting and leading in the new American democracy — and what it means for an expanding electorate.

19th Editor-at-Large Errin Haines will be joined by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms; Co-Founder of Black Voters Matter LaTosha Brown; U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts; and political commentator Tara Setmayer.

To register: https://www.crowdcast.io/e/live-with-the-19th-black-women-power-ballot/register

Environmental Voter Project Phonebank

February 23, 2021 6-8pm EST: Call voters in Newton
March 9, 2021 5-7pm EST: Call voters in Lincoln, Medfield, Sudbury, Natick, and Winchester

Join the Environmental Voter Project to make nonpartisan calls to unlikely-to-vote environmentalists ahead of upcoming Massachusetts municipal elections!

Local elections like these have a major impact on environmental and climate policy by determining things like conservation initiatives, school curricula, power generation sources, and more. What’s more – most voters EVP speaks with aren’t even aware that these elections are happening. Your phone call can be the determining factor in whether these important environmentalists have their voices heard.

No previous phone banking experience required.

Film Premiere: Oh Mercy!

Thursday, February, 25th, 2021 from 5pm to 6pm EST on Zoom

Hosted by the Refugee Services of Texas.

REGISTER: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_FhC7-JrYT_G9JVyYxuwjJg

Worldwide Documentaries is proud to present Oh Mercy-Searching for Hope in the Promised land, a documentary short about the plight and challenges of the forced migrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers trapped on the Mexican side of the US border, denied entry into the United States.

 Oh Mercy gives a face and a voice to these children, women, and men who have been compelled to leave their homes in Central America by forces beyond their control, but have yet to find hope in the promised land to the north to which they have traveled in search of safety and freedom. Oh Mercy reaffirms the dignity of these thousands of people whose future remains uncertain, and makes the case for humane US immigration policies that will give real hope to those tired and poor for whom safety in the promised land is a dream yet unrealized.

Please join us as we premiere Oh Mercy and host a panel discussion featuring Sister Norma Pimentel, Executive Director of Catholic Family Charities of the Rio Grande Valley; Oh Mercy Director Robert Bilheimer; Anjelica Xolxol, an asylum seeker from Guatemala; and a special guest to be announced soon. The panel discussion will be moderated by Development Director, Ashley Faye of the Refugee Services of Texas.

For more information about Oh Mercy, go to http://ohmercyfilm.com.

Worldwide Documentaries is proud to partner with the Refugee Services of Texas and the UVA Humanitarian Collective for the premiere of Oh Mercy.

Refugee Services of Texas is guided by the principles of human compassion and dignity, and welcomes refugees, immigrants, and other displaced peoples and supports them in integrating and thriving in their new communities. The UVA Humanitarian Collective supports interdisciplinary, action-oriented research and engagement on the world’s pressing humanitarian and development challenges. One thematic area of focus is the US/Mexico border.

https://www.paypal.com/donate/?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=S4ESPTM6R82AE

Exploring the Legacy

Feb 25, 2021 07:00 PM  on zoom

Join Rosalyn Delores Elder, author of Exploring the Legacy: People and Places of Significance, which is a history of the contributions of African Americans to Massachusetts state history and a guide to the 742 sites around the state that signify the histories of important individuals and events. Learn about Onesimus, whose knowledge led to the development of inoculations to fight small pox in 1721; Belinda Royall who filed the first successful reparations lawsuit in 1783; and Jan Matzeliger’s invention of a shoe lasting machine in 1883 which led to the mass production of shoes.

Rosalyn Delores Elder is a registered architect, entrepreneur, author, and artist. She received her B.A. Degree in Art History from the University of Memphis, her M. Arch. Degree from the University of Washington, and her M. Arch. in Urban Design Degree from Harvard University. In addition to her architectural practice, Ms. Elder founded and operated Treasured Legacy, an African American cultural boutique at Copley Place from 1992 to 1998. From 1998 until 2012, she cofounded and operated Jamaicaway Books, a multi-cultural bookstore.

This event is offered in collaboration with area libraries.

Register: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_jotvFDmjR-u1GkK6PihWVA

Plastic: Recycle, Reuse, Refuse

Feb 25, 2021, 7–8:15 pm
Register:  http://bit.ly/3oSZ0y6
Looking to clear up confusions and make decisions about personal habits and wider actions around plastics? Learn from these experts:

Recycle: Ben Harvey, President of E.L. Harvey Waste and Recycling Services, will present what happens to recycling when it leaves the Acton Transfer Station, along with tips for better recycling.

Reuse: Eric Hudson, Founder & CEO of Preserve, will talk about innovative ways to reuse plastic, and state and national trends in designing for recyclability.

Refuse: Janet S. Domenitz, Executive Director of MASSPIRG, will explain about zero waste and how to move beyond plastic.

Fair Fight National volunteer call with Stacey Abrams  

Saturday, February 27
2:30 – 3:30pm ET
REGISTER HERE: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_t17qzwLITi-ldt-tOvLpSQ

Thank you again for your tireless work to turn out voters in Georgia.  Our work is not over. State legislatures across the country are already trying to roll back voting rights, especially targeting voting by mail and early voting. Fair Fight will continue our mission to advocate for free and fair elections for all and we hope that you will stay in this fight with us.

Find out how to continue to fight for the sacred right to vote.

During this call you’ll hear from Fair Fight’s founder Stacey Abrams, our Senior Advisor Lauren Groh-Wargo, Organizing Director Hillary Holley and Voter Protection Director Liza Conrad about how far we’ve come and how you can stay involved with this work.

State-level Events and Actions

Comment on the Interim Clean Energy and Climate Plan for 2030 

As part of the 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act, the Baker administration developed a statewide emissions reductions target for 2030 and the policies to get us there. Read about the plan here https://www.mass.gov/info-details/massachusetts-clean-energy-and-climate-plan-for-2030 and submit public input through 5pm Mon, Mar 22 by completing a Public Comment Form, emailing written comments to gwsa@mass.gov, or submitting oral comments as a voicemail to (617) 506-9630.

You can sign up to receive updates at https://www.mass.gov/forms/form-1-mailing-list

Also, a reminder that the MA 2050 Decarbonization Roadmap is also available at www.mass.gov/2050Roadmap.  The report as well as slides and video of a 2050 Roadmap webinar held on 1/15 are available from that link.

Urge your legislators to override the Governor and keep the climate bill strong
One month ago — at the tail end of the 2019-2020 legislative session, the MA Legislature passed a strong consensus climate bill.

The bill would set a roadmap for net zero by 2050 (with 5-year plans and benchmarks), establish stronger emissions targets, require the creation of a net zero stretch code (for building energy efficiency) to which municipalities could opt in, increase the Renewable Portfolio Standard, codify Environmental Justice protections, and take additional steps to encourage wind, solar, and geothermal energy as well as energy efficiency.

And the Governor vetoed it. With the session having already ended, the Legislature couldn’t override him. But they did re-file and re-pass the bill a few weeks ago. Baker still refused to sign it, choosing instead to send back amendments to weaken the bill.

We need to make sure the Legislature doesn’t fold. We need to be doing more to address climate change, not less to please the well-funded corporate lobbyists.

SAMPLE SCRIPT:
I was very happy to see the Legislature take strong action two weeks ago to re-file and re-pass An Act creating a next-generation roadmap for Massachusetts climate policy (now, S9) and disappointed that Governor Baker refused to sign it.
When it comes to climate change, we have no time to waste, and we need to be increasing our ambition, not tempering it in the face of corporate lobbyists.
I urge you to reject any effort to weaken the bill, especially the following proposals from the Governor:

**Reducing the 2030 emissions reduction target from 50% to 45% and the the 2040 emissions reduction target from 75% to 65% (We need to keep the stronger targets).
**Making the emissions reduction limits for different sectors of the economy non-binding (We need to go further, not weaker, when it comes to sector-level standards).
**Delaying the creation of a “net zero” stretch code and weakening enforcement of it (We’re already late, and we can’t put off for more years what we needed yesterday).

Thank you, and I look forward to having your support.

Ongoing Solidarity Lowell Initiatives

Support for Asylum-Seeker Marius

Marius is the Togolese asylum seeker whom the Merrimack Valley Interfaith Sanctuary Network (MVISN) is sponsoring. With generous support from people like you and MVISN member groups like ours, Marius has retained an immigration lawyer, filed an application for asylum, and successfully moved his case to the Boston immigration courts from El Paso, exponentially increasing his possibility of ultimately winning his case. Until Marius receives legal authorization to work, our network has committed to financially supporting him with $500/month. Can you chip in towards the $500 we need to meet our commitment to him? Any amount will be gratefully accepted. Consider becoming a “sustaining supporter” by making a recurring monthly donation, no size too small! We are also looking for folks who are interested in helping in an ongoing basis, in any of these three committees: Legal, Fundraising, and Housing. If you’re interested, please email mvisn@solidaritylowell.com

Donate here: http://www.merrimackvalleyproject.org/donate-1/ (please write “asylum” in the “special notes” part of the donation form)

 

Solidarity Lowell is a volunteer group of community members of Greater Lowell working toward social justice by defending the human rights, dignity, and equality of all persons against all forms of hate and discrimination.

Visit the Solidarity Lowell website: http://solidaritylowell.com

For more events not listed here, visit the full Events calendar: http://solidaritylowell.com/events/

For volunteer opportunities, visit our Volunteer page: http://solidaritylowell.com/volunteer-opportunities/

View the notes from our January meeting: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Vcq_XUI2YXU4Qnb2lD8OuX7TPs-8JpWcDZ5IuRNb9e4/edit?usp=sharing

Recording of our January meeting: https://youtu.be/pxqVzfcN31A

Solidarity Lowell is a chapter of Progressive Massachusetts. Click here to join: https://www.progressivemass.com/contribute

 

Posted by Caroline Snow in Rapid Response Team

Upcoming Events

Things of Note

Racism is a Local Public Health Crisis

As an organization working for social justice for all in our city, Solidarity Lowell feels called to write in support of the Lowell Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Consortium and its letter to the city. It is good to see the City Council taking the Consortium’s letter seriously enough for there to be several motions beforeContinue reading →

Posted by Marissa in Local Justice, Things of Note