Forum on Statewide legislation and the Dartmouth Mascot

Please join us on Tuesday. We have invited the School Committee and Superintendent to join us.

Forum on Statewide legislation and the Dartmouth Mascot

Please join the NAACP New Bedford Branch, local organizations, and community members on Tuesday, July 28, 2020 at 7:00pm via Zoom meeting platform for a discussion and forum on MA Statewide Legislation and the Dartmouth H.S. Indian mascot with the New Bedford Immigrant Support Network and guest Jean-Luc Pierite, President, Board of Directors, North American Indian Center of Boston.

Zoom information:
https://umassd.zoom.us/j/93429277599

Meeting ID: 934 2927 7599
(646)876-9923 Access: 934 2927 7599

Massachusetts House: nah, Black Lives don’t matter all that much

The Massachusetts House just passed their own police accountabily bill — long on police concessions and short on accountability. Despite language that says Qualified Immunity will be “studied,” everybody knows what that means. This is House Speaker Bob DeLeo’s way of strangling progressive legislation — even reforms that a majority of the public supports. As a lobbyist once said of the Massachusetts Legislature, “Don’t confuse what goes on in this building with democracy.”

Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, released the following statement on the House bill:

“For months, people across the country and the state have been marching in the streets to demand systemic change. Unfortunately, this bill does not reflect the fierce urgency that deadly police violence against Black people demands. Instead, it reflects the depth of entrenched opposition to necessary police reform. Police unions and officers used the weapon of fear to maintain the status quo and undermine even very moderate reforms.

“Ultimately, this piece of legislation misses the mark, because it will not help victims of violence hold police accountable. Let’s be clear: Massachusetts is not immune to police misconduct. In order to make any laws about excessive use of force or other police abuses meaningful, Massachusetts must reform our civil rights laws – including by ending qualified immunity, which denies victims their day in court. When the final bill is negotiated, it should empower victims of police violence to seek justice for the harms they have suffered and to hold abusive officers directly accountable.”

Progressive Mass. has published a guide, Here’s How Your State Rep Voted on Police Reform, including how House members voted on the Senate version, S.2820. Bristol County “Democrats” Carole Fiola, Jim Hawkins, Chris Markey, Alan Silvia, and Paul Schmid all voted with Republicans against the Senate version.

When it comes to supporting wars and the police state, we can usually count on the media to tell us a plastic fork is silver cutlery. Several media outlets have described the House bill as “sweeping” when in fact it sacrificed critical police accountability measures to police union lobbying.

Let’s be honest. neither political party wants police reform — even in supposed Liberal bastions like Massachusetts. What just happened in the Commonwealth has played out all over the nation. In Missouri, for example, when Kansas City Mayor David Alvey assembled his Task Force on Community and Police Relations, he invited Police Chief Michael York and Wyandotte County Sheriff Don Ash — but snubbed Kansas City’s reform District Attorney Mark Dupree, a Black man, because he wasn’t sufficiently “objective.”

Finally, no discussion of police accountability would be complete without the local press quoting a man who is neither a police officer nor has ever been held accountable to the Massachusetts legislature.

Support 3 Indigenous civil rights bills (urgent)

The following letter is from Mahtowin Munro at the MA Indigenous Agenda Coalition. The three bills Mahtowin mentions below come up for votes in the next 1-2 weeks, so time is short to contact your legislator. Please click on the yellow button below which takes you to a FastAction page.

I’m writing to you to seek your support for three important Indigenous civil rights bills that are before the Massachusetts State Legislature and need to be voted on before the end of July. The three bills seek to ban Native American sports mascots, redesign the racist Massachusetts state flag and seal, and protect Native American heritage (more details below my signature).

I know that you and your organization will understand the urgent need to address racial justice issues and symbols of white supremacy now. Here are two steps we are asking you to take:

  1. Please go to this link:
    https://secure.everyaction.com/a7m-qciMMUyYlIL2jxcTVA2,
    where you can fill in your home or organizational address and send an automated letter in support of all 3 bills to your state representative and state senators as well as other key legislators. If you can sign on behalf of your organization, that would be fantastic, or otherwise we will list your title for identification purposes only. (You are also welcome to put the text of the letter on your organization’s letterhead and send to the legislators in that manner, if you prefer.)
  2. Please share this information via social media and your mailing list as well as with your staff, asking them to support too!

For 400 years, Massachusetts has ignored the rights and concerns of Indigenous people. Now is the time for the Legislature to pass these bills and stop ignoring Indigenous voices! If these bills are not passed before the end of July, we will have to reintroduce these and our other legislation in 2021, and the bills will need to wend their way through another two-year hearing and legislative process.

Thank you for your support! We need to flood the State House with support emails by no later than July 27.

Mahtowin Munro for the MA Indigenous Agenda Coalition
http://maindigenousagenda.org/


The 3 bills are:

  1. Resolve Providing for the Creation of a Special Commission Relative to the Seal and Motto of the Commonwealth (S.1877 / H.2776)
  2. An Act to Ban the Use of Native American Mascots by Public Schools in the Commonwealth (S.247 / H.443)
  3. An Act to Protect Native American Heritage (S.1811 / H.2948)

Flag, Seal and Motto Bill:

Now that Mississippi has decided to retire its confederate state flag, Massachusetts is the last US state whose flag includes representations of white supremacy. It features a Colonial broadsword held in a white hand over the head of a composite “Native American,” and its Latin motto begins, “By the sword we seek peace…” Hartman Deetz (Mashpee Wampanoag) made remarks about why the Massachusetts flag and seal need to be changed. “The English cut off the head of Metacom (King Philip) and displayed it on the top of a pike in Plimoth. That’s what that sword is above the head of the Native man on the state flag. That sword continues to hang over the head of Native people in Massachusetts. It’s not just symbolism. That’s literally what happened to the leader of our people. He was beheaded…. and we continue to live under that threat today, from continued genocide, from continued dispossessions, from continued oppression, here in Massachusetts and all across the country. This is a symbol of white supremacy.”

Mascots Bill:

Commenting on the bill to ban the use of Native American mascots, the Sagamore of the Massachusett Tribe at Ponkapoag, Faries Gray, said: “My tribe is not in support of any Indigenous mascots. We don’t feel like we are being honored by any mascots. We feel like a trophy. ‘We conquered you and this is our trophy.’ It’s insane we have to deal with it. We’re still here. We’re a living people.”

Other tribal nations and intertribal organizations in Massachusetts have supported the call for a prohibition on all Native American sport team mascots/nicknames/logos in Massachusetts public schools. The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe wrote: “A state law to address the problem of these nicknames/logos is necessary because many communities in Massachusetts resist calls to eliminate the Native American nicknames/logos used by their schools. The Tribe/Nation urges you to listen to our voices, and the voices of other Native American tribal nations and organizations that represent Native American people who reside in the state of Massachusetts. And, we urge you to consider the research, which clearly demonstrates that Native American mascots in sport are not educationally sound for Native American and non-Indigenous youth.”

Native Heritage Bill:

Native American advocates and allies also seek passage of “An Act to Protect Native American Heritage”. This bill would refine Native Americans Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) enforcement to include all publicly funded entities in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. If passed into law, this would further ensure the repatriation of sacred and funerary objects to the tribal communities of origin as well as deter auction houses from being able to obtain such items. As Chairwoman Cheryl Andrews-Malthais of Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) testified in 2016, “Tribal cultural heritage belongs to the tribal community of its origin as a whole. And by tribal custom, cannot be alienated from that community by any individual or group without the expressed free, prior, and informed consent of that tribe.”

Overall Need for Bills:

Putting the need for the legislation into a broader context, Jean-Luc Pierite, president of the Board of the North American Indian Center of Boston, a statewide Native American community organization based in Jamaica Plain, noted that “What COVID-19 and #BlackLivesMatter demonstrate in plain terms is that our current social systems need structural and foundational change. Symbols from flags, mascots, and names on public places and on the design of infrastructure like roads and pipelines are the branding of the extraction of resources, wealth, and labor from BIPOC peoples. To change the system is to change the branding. These are not mutually exclusive, unless we are simply appeasing the electorate or window dressing.”

According to Mahtowin Munro from United American Indians of New England and the Massachusetts Indigenous Legislative Agenda, “Four hundred years after the arrival of the Pilgrims from Europe, all too many Indigenous concerns remain unaddressed. Any authentic efforts to address racial injustice need to include and respect the voices of Indigenous people and ensure that Native American concerns are addressed. Supporting this legislation should be a bipartisan effort to begin to redress longstanding grievances. The current session of the Massachusetts legislature has a historic opportunity to begin to listen to Indigenous voices statewide and take first steps toward repairing relationships with Native Americans by passing this meaningful legislation.”