The Amherst Town Council recently passed a resolution calling on all local public officials to condemn and denounce any and all anti-Asian sentiment in any form in and around the Town of Amherst. The resolution was sponsored by community members Tracy Zafian and Franklin Odo and by Coucilors Shalini Bahl-Milne, Darcy DuMont and Dorothy Pam.
The Northampton City Council and many other communities have recently passed similar resolutions. Due to the rise in anti-Asian sentiment realted to COVID-19 and the use of anti-Asian rhetoric, including by federal officials, has resulted in people of Asian descent being harassed, assaulted, and/or scapegoated for the COVID-19 pandemic throughout the United States, and including in our own community. Resolutions condemning these actions were also introduced in the US Senate and House of Representatives.
Previously, in January 2017, the Amherst Town Manager, Chief of Police, and Amherst Schools Superintendent signed a joint statement stating that Amherst is a Welcoming Community, and affirming their responsibility as public officials to use their authority to protect all members of our community regardless of race, color, ethnic or national origin (and other protected classes).
The Amherst Human Rights Commission also discussed this resoltuion, giving their general support to the measure. Resident sponsor Tracy Zafian said "I see this resolution as a first step and hope it will be followed by conversations, and then actions, to help all members of our community feel more safe."
Councilor Bahl-Milne echoed this by stating, "As a Town Council, we’re committed to listening and doing everything we can to make Amherst a town where all residents can feel safe and thrive. This resolution is one of the initial steps to show our commitment. I hope all residents know that they can reach out to us, individually and as a Town Council, to share their concerns and ideas for a safe and equitable town. And also please look out for upcoming meetings by the Town Council, the Human Rights Commission, and residents in our neighborhoods. These are opportunities for all of us to listen to each other, learn, and take individual and collective actions for a safer Amherst."
The Human Rights Policy for the Town clearly states that no person be denied any guaranteed rights on the basis of race, color, ethnic or national origin. Here in Amherst, all people should feel safe from racial harassment and discrimination and should feel welcomed and safe.
Councilor Dorothy Pam concluded, "I am proud to join the other co-sponsors of the Resolution Denouncing Xenophobia and Discrimination against Asians and Asians Americans which was passed by the Amherst Town Council unanimously. We must fight against the pernicious practice of looking for scapegoats in times of trouble and exacerbating the long standing history of discrimination and harassment of Asians and Asian Americans. Asians and Asian Americans have long played an important role in industry, business, technology, education, medicine, government, and the arts in Amherst and the country."
You can view the full resolution here.