Holyoke mayor declares racism, police violence as public health emergency

Hampden County

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Local leaders of the African American community joined in a virtual town hall Wednesday to discuss how to support black citizens.

Congressional candidate and Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse hosted the virtual event.

The conversation reflected on governance, civic engagement, as well as how to move through this national moment together, and come out with stronger policies that support black lives.

Tanisha Arena of ARISE for Social Justice took part in Wednesday night’s forum and urged people to take part in the census and vote in order to make a change.

She said, “In local elections, know who every person is, know them by name, what they do because they are elected, they work for us, and when you know their names and you are calling their offices and sending emails saying “hey, this is what I need…” and they are not doing it? We need to hold them accountable.”

Mayor Morse also issued an executive order declaring racism and police violence as a public health emergency. In a statement on Wednesday, Morse said his executive order includes a list of initial actions that the city will take to combat the public health crisis. 

Also included in the order is a provision that provides a paid day off for City Hall employees this Friday, June 19, in observance of Juneteenth Independence Day. Mayor Morse is encouraging local businesses and fellow mayors to do the same.  

The mayor added that he will be requesting that the Holyoke City Council establish June 19 as a recurring holiday in the city. 

The mayor’s executive order below is attached below:

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