Home Youth empowerment Amherst seeks members for social justice panel

Amherst seeks members for social justice panel


AMHERST – Candidates are sought for the new committee that will advance diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as community safety, in Amherst.

As city council continues to discuss the formation of the Community Safety and Social Justice Committee, a successor group to the Community Safety Working Group, City Manager Paul Bockelman announces that residents are to sit on the seven-member committee that will focus on the themes of ending structural racism and achieving racial equity for black residents.

While his charge is still being finalized by city council, the committee enjoys significant support from councilors, and Bockelman has said he wants to start receiving applications, conducting interviews and making appointments. you so that the committee can begin its work.

Two of the initial appointments will be current members of the Community Safety Working Group, and at least five of its members will represent black people, Indigenous or people of color, or other historically marginalized communities.

The committee is expected to continue what the task force has done, and will support the soon-to-be formed Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Department, the Community Responders for Equity, Safety and Service program, and meet the needs of the BIPOC and other marginalized groups, including people with disabilities, immigrants, and LGBTQ + people.

Bockelman said he wants to find people who will represent a wide range of the city’s socio-economic diversity, and the stipends should support that.

Last week, city council had a long discussion about the composition of the committee and whether members should receive compensation.

At-Large Councilor Mandi Jo Hanneke said she worried about whether the committee’s load was large enough to benefit the entire community and whether its mission might involve necessary expenses, such as a new youth empowerment center and a multicultural center.

Hanneke was also concerned about his racial makeup.

“I support a BIPOC majority on the committee, but I would go with four out of seven, not five, Hanneke said.

Pat Ononibaku, a member of the Community Safety Task Force, said people of color did not benefit from the city’s resources and did not sit at the table of white residents.

“This is a committee that we believe will bring about the real changes we want in this city,” Ononibaku said. “The people of BIPOC must be in the majority to accomplish the change. ”

District 4 councilor Evan Ross said the paying committee members will address its socio-economic makeup.

“We think having a stipend might encourage some people to join the committee,” Ononibaku said.

Ellisha Walker, who co-chaired the community safety task force, said not having a stipend would be a barrier to participation.

Meanwhile, Bockelman is also looking for volunteers to serve on a number of other boards and committees, including the Affordable Housing Trust Fund Board, the Agricultural Commission, the Grants Advisory Committee of Community Development, Community Preservation Advisory Committee, Council on Aging, Design Review Council. , Disability Access Advisory Committee, Public Shade Tree Committee, Resident Advisory Committee, and Transportation Advisory Committee.

Anyone interested should complete a community activity form at www.amherstma.gov/caf, and those with questions can contact the city’s community participation officers at [email protected]