By Dakota Antelman, Contributing Writer
Hudson – The Select Board voted, Feb. 8, to formally condemn racism and vow to fight acts of hate in town.
The move comes just under three weeks after a Hudson man allegedly shouted a racial slur at a Black and Latino man before fatally hitting him with his car.
“[This] is a wakeup call that people who are capable of acts like this live in every city and town in Massachusetts,” Hudson Executive Assistant Tom Moses told the Select Board while presenting a draft statement to them.
Alleged crime in Belmont
According to Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan, Hudson’s Dean Kapsalis got into an argument with a man named Henry Tapia in an apparent road rage incident in Belmont, Jan. 19. After exchanging words, Kaspalis allegedly shouted a slur at Tapia, climbed back into his truck and ran over Tapia, dragging him with his vehicle for several feet.
Kaspalis drove off but turned himself in to police roughly a half an hour later.
Tapia, meanwhile, died later that night.
Immediately, condemnation poured in from across the region.
“We cannot and will not tolerate behavior that is rooted in racial bias,” Ryan said at a press conference, Jan. 20.
Town leaders draft a response
Back in Hudson, semi-private conversations started, in kind, as Moses worked with the Hudson Diversity Committee to draft an official town response.
The fruits of their labor came before the Select Board, Feb. 8, specifically denouncing racism and outlining ways town officials should respond to future hate-based incidents.
“We often hear life-long residents say that Hudson is a great town and that they have never seen an incident of racism in their lives,” Moses wrote in a letter attached to the statement. “It is true that Hudson is a great town, but our own understanding is filtered by our backgrounds and perceptions.”
He elaborated, saying “Just because we don’t see [racism] does not mean that it is not there.”
Tragedy is latest chapter in year of reckoning
Throughout most of last year, Hudson grappled with a reawakened mainstream awareness of racism in American society.
Like hundreds of other communities, it played host to relatively large protests during the summer.
As a new school year began, school administrators discussed ways to make social studies curricula more inclusive.
And local advocates Tina Grosowsky and Jane Chertoff, meanwhile, engaged in at least one at times tense conversation with Select Board members about a proposal to form that aforementioned Diversity Committee.
As a handful of those members had pushed back against some of Grosowsky and Chertoff’s arguments about the prevalence of racism in Hudson, then, Board members had nothing but support for this new statement, now.
“This is something that every community should take on,” Fred Lucy said, Feb. 8.
“If this wakes even one ignorant person up, then I’m fine with that,” colleague Jim Quinn agreed.
Read the full statement…