Shrewsbury officials embrace opportunity to address racial inequities 


By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter

Shrewsbury officials embrace opportunity to address racial inequities Shrewsbury –In the wake of the recent killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the national and local protests that followed, the Shrewsbury Board of Selectmen released a statement on June 4 condemning the “horrific” actions of the police officers involved with this tragedy.

At their June 9 Board meeting, Selectman John Lebeaux made the request to put on an upcoming agenda, preferably the next meeting scheduled for June 23, to discuss any and all steps necessary to consider questions of diversity, discrimination and racism in the town of Shrewsbury.

He said: “Board members, as I imagine the rest of you have been doing since we issued our statement last Thursday regarding the homicide of George Floyd, I’ve been thinking about appropriate next steps.”

Since the statement was released the Board received three letters from individuals seeking further action at the town level.

“My impression which I think you all share is that the Board’s statement is intended as a beginning step and not a final action…. I believe that the town of Shrewsbury needs to do much more to consider the questions of diversity and racism,” he continued.

His recommendation was to create a task force that will meet regularly and intensively over a period of time to study the issues and would be composed of a mix of residents and government leaders that reflect the make-up of the community.

The outcome of the task force, he hopes, will be the creation of a smaller permanent body whose charge would be framed around the recommendations of the task force.

The rest of the Board was firmly behind this initiative.

“We need to do it impactfully and meaningfully and act quickly,” remarked Selectman John Samia.

He said it would be helpful to know what the town does actively today in terms of policies and procedures and he encouraged the public to offer input between now and the next meeting on what this committee should look like as well as its goals.

As the Board has been thinking about this issue so has Town Manager Kevin Mizar. He remarked that about 16 months ago he and his team at Town Hall had already been having discussions on ways to engage deeper with the community.

He shared that an internal group of department and town leaders defined a purpose statement for Shrewsbury that states: “The town of Shrewsbury is dedicated to fostering a vibrant and safe community for all to thrive.”

He added, “…I’m disgusted by and reject any actions that would cause harm. I grieve for the family of George Floyd and I embrace my role as the Town Manager to better connect the employees of the town and its residents. In my opinion we are not separate groups – we are Shrewsbury and thank you for the opportunity to state that.”


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