Month: July 2020



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


Solidarity Lowell Events and Actions

Save the Date – Solidarity Lowell General Meeting 

July 26, 5:30-7pm
Via Zoom
Topic: Housing

Local Events and Actions

Moody Street Cleanup

Saturday, July 18, 9am-12pm
Lowell Canalwaters Cleaners
Wear a mask and spread out.

Phonebank for our Endorsed Candidate Lisa Arnold

Saturday, July 18 1-4pm
Thursday, July 23 6-9pm

Repeat every Saturday and Thursday
Join our phonebank for Lisa Arnold, who is running for State Rep in the 17th Middlesex district. No special equipment or software is required, just a computer with microphone and speakers (though a headset is helpful).
RSVP to to sign up!

The Farm Market at Mill No. 5

Sunday, July 19, 11am-2pm
250 Jackson St, Lowell
Building now open with safety rules, including masks and social distancing.

Next City Council Meeting

Tuesday, July 28, 6:30pm
At the beginning of the emergency, the City Council voted to meet every 2 weeks to facilitate safe distancing. City Hall is closed to the public. Watch the meeting on LTC (Channel 99 or 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 conferenced in to the meeting. Email address is MGEARY@LOWELLMA.GOV. If no access to email you may contact City Clerk at 978-674-4161.
The agenda will be posted at by the Friday before, July 24.

State-Level Actions and Events

Massachusetts Poor People’s Campaign Statewide meeting

Thursday, July 23, 7-8:15pm
The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival is uniting people across Massachusetts to challenge the evils of systemic racism, poverty, the war economy, ecological devastation and the nation’s distorted morality of religious nationalism.
Email to get involved!

Support Legislative Priorities of Merrimack Valley Project

1. The Work and Family Mobility Act (House Bill 3012, Senate Bill 2061)
The Work and Family Mobility Act, or Drivers’ License Bill, would provide access for undocumented immigrants to acquire a Massachusetts drivers license. This bill is currently being considered in the Senate Ways and Means Committee and MVP is asking all legislators to ask that Senate President Karen Spilka bring the bill to the floor for a vote. (

2. Emergency Paid Sick Time (House Bill 5039, Senate Bill 2918)
As part of the Raise Up Massachusetts economic justice statewide coalition, MVP is supporting this bill that would provide 2 weeks of emergency paid sick leave for those not covered by the federal bill that came out this spring,. asking all Valley legislators to support the bill, which is currently being considered along with other bills directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

3. 2021 Fiscal Year Funding for Wheels of Hope
Lastly, MVP is asking all Valley legislators to commit to supporting Wheels of Hope, their regional pilot transportation program that provided over 100 free rides to treatment and rehabilitation centers throughout the state. This program was funded by a $150,000 budget amendment last year and the same amount is requested to relaunch the program for a second year.

Please contact your state representative and state senator (email preferable at the moment)
(find yours here
Rep. Thomas Golden 617-722-2263
Rep. Rady Mom 617-722-2460
Rep. David Nangle 617-722-2520
Sen. Edward Kennedy 617-722-1630
Sen. Michael Barrett 617-722-1572

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
Donate here: (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 at

For more events not listed here, visit the full Events calendar:

For volunteer opportunities, visit our Volunteer page:

View the notes from our June meeting here:–YW2QJn4b0vZSK38cwIyk/edit?usp=sharing

Recording of our June meeting:

Solidarity Lowell is a chapter of Progressive Massachusetts. Click here to join

Posted by Caroline Snow in Rapid Response Team

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 before the Council this week to address racism in the city. Some of the motions may be mutually exclusive; none of them address all of the Consortium’s concerns.

The Consortium has stated that “Racism is a local public health crisis.” Stating a problem is the first step to addressing it. As various authorities have written, it IS a HEALTH crisis. Dealing with racism throughout life is stressful and contributes to chronic health problems in communities of color, including a form of PTSD. Racism is directly causing deaths by the way some situations involving people of color are handled, or not handled. Racism has been demonstrated to be contributing to the established susceptibility of people of color to the novel coronavirus.

The Council clearly cares about the people of color in this city. It is spending a considerable part of this week’s meeting on the issue of racism, but being a good ally means listening. When people of color express a need, allies must amplify their words, not change them. The Consortium used the words “Racism is a local public health crisis”. The Council needs to use those words in its response. We consider anything else to be disrespectful. We thank the Mayor for recognizing that.

The first Consortium ask of the city is to “Articulate and communicate the City of Lowell’s commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, its objectives, and its strategies to reach these goals.” The mayor’s proposal for a Task Force is a good start to this. Good management practice also requires setting specific measurable goals. Without specific measurable goals, it is virtually impossible to discern steps to achieve progress. We are glad to see that the Mayor expects the Task Force to recommend ways in which success can be measured.

The second Consortium ask is “Protocols for Data Equity and Integrity”. This is necessary in order to be able to measure where we are and to measure our progress in moving toward our goals. There are examples from other cities available. We need to admit that there is a need for this and commit to including it in our data handling. We believe it is important for the proposed Task Force to make recommendations on this as soon as possible.

The third ask is “Bi-Annual Anti-Racism and Anti-Bias Training for all City Employees including City Council and School Committee”. City Manager Donoghue said (at the June 9th CC meeting) that “all City employees receive diversity training”, but according to the Consortium’s letter, “an informal survey of past and current City employees suggests that not all City staff receive this training.” We know from our own work as a majority-white organization that work on anti-racism involves a commitment to ongoing education, not once and done. It is not the responsibility of people of color to educate the rest of us as situations arise. THAT is a source of exhausting stress. It is better to prevent the situation from arising at all by educating people to see what is hard to see without help. This is especially true if anti-racism work is new to them, as it is to so many of us because of the nature of our world. Funding and content will have to be worked out by the city, meaning the community and not just the government, but the commitment to do it has to come first.

The fourth ask is “an independent Civilian Advisory Committee to monitor and address police misconduct and join Massachusetts lawmakers in creating steps towards change.” We join the Consortium in applauding Superintendent Richardson’s announcement of a Citizens Advisory Committee. We agree that such a Committee needs to have some independence. Members of the committee need to be acceptable to the community and need to feel free to speak their truths. We also agree that the Council needs to join other Massachusetts lawmakers in seeking ways to change our approaches to community security. By being part of the process, the Council will better understand all the ramifications of various measures and be better able to address them in our community. Being in an environment where new ideas are discussed and innovation can happen is always beneficial.

The fifth ask is to “Reallocate resources and establish an Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to promote and advance racial equity in the solicitation of vendors and recruitment and retention of personnel and Board and Committee members.” We know that funding new measures is an issue as our city has less resources than others doing this work. The City Council clearly recognizes the same thing, since the motions include creating funds to receive grants from outside sources. But reallocation of whatever city resources can be reallocated is a concrete demonstration of commitment to the process, one the community really needs to hear.

As to the creation of an Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, there are two competing motions before the Council this week, one to create a Mayor’s task force and another to create a Commission. We like that the Mayor’s proposal specifically mentions including community input and specifies a person of color who resides in Lowell as chair, task forces are usually ad hoc temporary organizations. The Task Force is a good organization for making recommendations to fulfill the various community needs expressed by the Consortium and not yet addressed by the City Council’s motions. The nature and operation of racism in our society makes the need to address it long-term. We would like to see the creation of a permanent organization that is charged with helping the city live up to its commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion by helping the city establish best practices and by addressing violations of those best practices. We hope the Task Force will do that.

We recognize that it is a serious step to make commitments like these and that it is important not to make promises that cannot be kept. But we believe this point in time requires a commitment to take some concrete steps rather than falling back on the same reasons we always use to not act. Instead of letting funding issues stop us, we need to figure out how to make positive change happen. It starts with a commitment to making concrete changes.

–Solidarity Lowell Coordinating Committee

Posted by Marissa in Local Justice, Things of Note



The Lowell City Council’s last meeting was held on June 23. The minutes of this meeting are available here:…

Big, big, big meeting coming up Tuesday, July 14 at 6:30 PM! Last month, Solidarity Lowell joined numerous other organizations and individuals in Lowell in signing the following letter to the City Council, calling on them to declare racism a public health crisis and commit Lowell to taking steps to improve racial justice and equal opportunity in our city:…/1Pnact_7N1GuuecpjaF42RKcYD8…/view

On Tuesday, the Council will consider two motions by Mayor John Leahy to implement the letter’s recommendations. Other related motions, including an apparent alternate motion that does not declare a public health crisis and does not commit the City to taking any action, will also be considered.

Solidarity Lowell members are urged to contact their councilors to urge them to adopt the Mayor Leahy’s motions, or to sign up to speak via telephone to the City Council meeting.

Lowell’s DEI Consortium (DEI), the prime movers behind the letter, is hosting a rally in support on JFK Plaza at 4:30 on Tueday:

Pursuant to Governor Baker’s Emergency Order modifying the State’s Open Meeting Law issued March 12, 2020, this meeting is being held by remote participation. Members of the public wishing to speak regarding a specific agenda item shall register to speak in advance by sending email to City Clerk indicating the agenda item and a phone number to call so that you may be conferenced in to the meeting. Email address is MGEARY@LOWELLMA.GOV. If no access to email you may contact City Clerk at 978-674-4161. Tuesday’s meeting will once again be held over Zoom. Meetings are available for viewing on LTC channel 99, or on demand through the LTC website:

The complete agenda for the meeting is available here:…/…/Agenda/_07142020-1628…

Racial Justice

Mayor John Leahy is sponsoring the two major motions, which have the public support of Councilors Drinkwater and Nuon:
11.11 M. Leahy – Req. City Council Vote To Assert That Racism Is A Public Health Crisis Affecting The Health, Safety And Well-Being Of Residents In The City Of Lowell, And To Affirm Our Commitment To Efforts Aimed At Understanding, Addressing, And Dismantling Racism In All Its Forms; And To Further Request That The City Manager Direct The Law Department To Draft A Resolution Formally Declaring Racism To Be A Public Health Crisis In The City Of Lowell.

11.12 M. Leahy – Req. City Council Vote To Establish A Mayor’s Task Force On Diversity, Equity And Inclusion That Will Conduct A Thorough Review Of City Policies And Inequities In Community Systems; Will Solicit Input From Experts And The General Public; And Will Report To The City Manager And City Council With Initial Policy Recommendations, Including Ways In Which Success Is Measured, No Later Than Six Months From The Date Of The First Task Force Meeting; Said Task Force Shall Be Chaired By A Lowell Resident Who Is A Person Of Color, And The Majority Of The Task Force Should Be Comprised Of People Of Color Who Reside In Lowell.

The following motion was apparently drawn up in response to letter and the motions above:

11.5 C. Elliott/C. Conway/C. Mercier/C. Rourke/C. Samaras/C. Chau – Req. City Council Adopt Resolution Regarding Inclusiveness, Equity And Racism In The City.
The following motions are in response to the recent passage of a motion to conduct a Human Resources audit in the City and School Department, and to seek grant funding to hire the necessary professionals:
11.3 C. Elliott – Req. City Council Vote To Set Up Lowell Equity And Inclusion Fund To Raise Money From Private Donations To Address Racism, Inclusiveness And Equity In City.
11.4 C. Elliott – Req. City Council Discuss Reallocating State And Federal Grant Resources For HR Audit Or Other Programs To Address Equity And Inclusiveness.

Councilor Chau filed the following motion. Its implications in light of the motion passed by the Council on June 9 to call a joint meeting of the Commission on Race Relations and relevant agencies are unclear:

C. Chau – Req. City Mgr. Create A City Commission To Investigate And Identify Systemic Inequities And Racism In The Following Areas: Housing, Education, Hiring, Health Care, Social Services, Mental Health And Transportation; Members Will Include, But Not To, Representatives From The Following Organizations; Mayor Or Appointee, City Manager Or Appointee, Lowell Housing Authority, CBA, Lowell General Hospital, Lowell Community Health Center, Community Team Work, Trinity Ambulance, PrideStar Ambulance, Lowell Regional Transit Authority, UMass Lowell, Lowell School Administration, Middlesex Community College, Lowell Career Center, UTEC And Lowell Transitional Center.Department Draft An Ordinance To Establish A Citizens Advisory Committee To Help Provide Public Input And Recommendations To The Lowell Police Department.


Councilor Rourke submitted the following motion to promote the Lowell Police Department’s community outreach efforts:
11.7 C. Rourke – Req. City Mgr. Provide The Council With A Comprehensive Report Regarding Lowell Police Department’s Collaboration With Community Partners Including Lowell Public Schools, Non-Profit Organizations And Other City Departments Through Funding And Active Participation.

Housing and Homelessness

Councilor Nuon keeps his eye on affordable housing:
11.2 C. Nuon – Req. City Mgr. Work With Department Of Planning & Development To Compile A List Of HUD Projects With Affordable Housing Restrictions That Expire In Near Future.

To see the full agenda for the City Council meeting, click here:

Posted by Caroline Snow in Rapid Response Team