A senior-level director in charge of COVID-19 vaccination equity and an allocation of $10 million to community organizations for outreach and engagement in communities of color are part of a list of five demands outlined Wednesday by a new coalition seeking to address what they say are serious racial injustices in the state's vaccine distribution plan.
"At the end of the day, when I zoom out and I look at what this bill accomplishes... there is a ton in this bill that is really going to set a new standard for the national policy landscape on police accountability that could potentially ripple through the other forty-nine states."
Gov. Charlie Baker signed sweeping police reform legislation on Thursday that will create a mandatory certification process for law enforcement and launch the nation’s first civilian-led police oversight board with subpoena power and decertification authority.
Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz, a Jamaica Plain Democrat, lamented that many things “over-policed communities pleaded for” are not in the bill, including binding definitions of use of force. But she said there was much for advocates to celebrate.
State Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz, who served on the police reform conference committee, and state Representative Russell Holmes, who has long pushed for many of the changes included in the bill, join Jim Braude to discuss the long-awaited police reform bill.
"I'm really satisfied with the total product of this bill," Sen. Chang-Diaz said. "...It is a final package that strikes a lot of wins for accountability, for community voice at the table of power, for changing our vision for what public safety is and means from one of force and punishment to one of de-escalation and helping and prevention."
Data collection and reporting, vaccine distribution and funding for COVID-19 response initiatives are identified as "critical priorities" for the state to pursue, in a preliminary report approved Wednesday by members of a state health equity task force.
Roxbury activists have voiced opposition to the plan from the beginning, citing what they said would be unsafe street crossings and the loss of trees that help mitigate pollution and reduce extreme temperatures.
The Massachusetts Senate plans to vote Thursday on a wide-ranging bill that would create a process for certifying and de-certifying officers and impose new limits on use of force, including a ban on chokeholds and restrictions on the use of tear gas.
Mobilized by the social unrest gripping the country, the state’s top political leaders of color gathered Tuesday to urge action across all levels of government, their words underwritten by a docket of resolutions, policies, and legislation they say are designed to transmute anger into change, increasing police accountability and chipping away at structural racism.
“Ensuring people have safe, reliable housing throughout this crisis is one of the most important things we can do to flatten the curve and save lives right now,” said state Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz (D-2nd Suffolk).