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


Solidarity Lowell Events and Actions

Next Meeting will be Sunday, June 28 at 5:30


We are proud to endorse Lisa Arnold for State Rep!

The results are in and the members of Solidarity Lowell have voted to endorse Lisa Arnold for State Rep of the 17th Middlesex District!

Now Lisa needs our help to win! Her campaign is looking for people to help with phone banking, text banking, writing postcards to friends and neighbors, and posting on social media. If you can volunteer some time for any of these, please send an email to

Local Events and Actions

Peaceful Protest Against Racial and Social Injustice on Littleton Common

Saturday June 6, 10am-1pm
Bring signs, wear masks, be respectful

Next City Council Meeting

Tuesday, June 9, 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.

State-Level Actions and Events

Mass Power Forward Virtual Lobby Day June 12

When: Friday, June 12, approx. 1:00 – 4:00 PM, on Zoom
It’s time to build some momentum behind our Environmental Justice & Climate Action legislative priorities – and you are needed! The Mass Power Forward Planning team is setting up Zoom meetings with State Legislators, by county. Participants will have an opportunity to meet ahead of time and organize their meetings (instructions will be provided). Then, participants will meet with their legislators, both Senator and Representatives, by County. More specifics will be sent out soon.
Register by Sunday, June 7th to receive more details.RSVP Link:
Facebook Page:

National-Level Actions and Events

House Resolution Condemning Police Violence

Ask your representative to co-sponsor the Omar-Pressley resolution. Reps. Ilhan Omar (MN-5) and Ayanna Pressley (MA-7) have introduced a resolution in the House condemning police violence. Call your representative and demand that they co-sponsor the resolution and speak out publicly about the need for the House to pass it without delay.
Representative Lori Trahan: 978-459-0101 /  202-225-3411 (thank her, she’s in favor)
Representative Seth Moulton: 978-531-1669  / 202-225-8020

Contact Congress TODAY to stop police departments from buying weapons of war.

Senator Brian Schatz (D–HI) has announced that he will introduce an amendment that will prevent local police forces from getting tear gas, drones, armored vehicles, and high-caliber weapons of war from the military. This important amendment – in addition to initiatives to defund police departments and hold police officers accountable for committing crimes against the public – will help combat systemic police brutality in the U.S.
Arming police forces with military weapons doesn’t reduce crime or protect law enforcement officers from violence. In fact, police forces that are equipped with weapons of war are more likely to kill civilians.Even worse, militarized police forces often target Black and minority-majority communities, where getting killed by the police is among the leading causes of death. Local law enforcement agencies have bought billions of dollars worth of guns, explosives, helicopters, and more from the military. Senator Brian Schatz (D–HI) wants to end this practice by passing an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act. This important amendment will prevent the transfer of military equipment to local law enforcement agencies, but only if more members of Congress support it.
Contact your Senators and Representatives now and tell them to support the Schatz amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act.
Use this form:
Or call them directly:
Senator Elizabeth Warren: 617-565-3170
Senator Edward Markey: 617-565-8519
Representative Lori Trahan: 978-459-0101 /   202-225-3411
Representative Seth Moulton: 978-531-1669  / 202-225-8020

Tell Congress to Support the Natural Disaster & Emergency Ballot Act 2020 (NDEBA)

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)

Posted by Marissa in Rapid Response Team