Acting Holyoke Mayor Murphy rescinds order declaring racism, police violence as public health crisis

Hampden County

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Acting Holyoke Mayor Terence Murphy is rescinding an executive order by former Mayor Alex Morse that declared racism and police violence as a public health emergency, saying he doesn’t believe the order to be of “immediate benefit.”

Morse had issued the order in June of last year. The order called for the city to take five actions:

  • The creation of a Racial Equity Public Health professional position within the Holyoke Board of Health
  • The establishment of an 11-member Citizen Police Advisory Committee to the Mayor
  • The recognition of June 19 as “Juneteenth Independence Day,” a paid holiday for city employees
  • Support of studies to decrease reliance on law enforcement
  • Advocacy at the state and federal level for policies and funding opportunities to combat systemic racism (for example, the elimination of qualified immunity for police officers)

In his executive order issued Wednesday, Murphy said he doesn’t believe Morse’s order is of immediate benefit because so many of the plans in the order have not been acted upon. He also noted that since the time Morse’s order was issued, Juneteenth has been declared a state holiday, therefore city employees will retain it as a paid day off.

“It is my expectation that all city departments consistently treat everyone with respect as we serve the public regardless of race or ethnicity,” Murphy wrote. “Holyoke should always be a community that welcomes diversity in its many forms.”

Morse resigned as mayor of Holyoke in March in order to take a position as town administrator for Provincetown, on Cape Cod.

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