The Arlington Human Rights Commission (AHRC) was created by Town Meeting in 1993 to advance issues related to the fair and equal treatment of individuals and to create a mechanism for addressing complaints arising out of these issues. The mission of the AHRC is to work individually and collaboratively with other groups in our community to celebrate the ever-changing tapestry of our Town, and to emphasize, through educational outreach, the danger of intolerance at every level. The Town Manager, School Committee, and the Town Moderator have appointing authority for thirteen members of the Commission.
The AHRC began the year by electing Dave Swanson and Naomi Greenfield to Co-Chair the Commission. The AHRC met monthly throughout the year.
The AHRC collaborated with, co-sponsored events with or publicized events for many Town government and community groups, including: Arlington Public Schools (APS), Arlington Health & Human Services (AHHS), Arlington Police Department (APD), Arlington Council on Aging, Robbins Library, ACMi, True Story Theater, Mystic LGBTQ+ Youth Support Network, Community Dispute Center, Trinity Boston Foundation, Communities for Restorative Justice (C4RJ), Arlington Regional Model United Nations & Civic Engagement Club (ARMUN), Arlington Rainbow Commission, Anti-Defamation League of New England and human rights organizations in several neighboring towns.
Education and Trainings
Participated in Cultural Competency Training through Trinity Boston Foundation. Invited and included members of various town and community groups, including Robbins Library, Arlington Youth Counseling Center, AHHS, and APD.
Participated in Mediation Training workshop through Community Dispute center. Invited and included members of various town and community groups, including Rainbow Commission and Fox Library.
Continued to offer a citizen’s forum at the beginning of each monthly meeting to give residents the opportunity to address the Commission on matters relating to equality and fairness. This year, at least 15 citizens took advantage of this opportunity. Citizens attended 9 of the Commission’s 12 meetings.
Collaborated with Anti-Defamation League to produce “Recognizing Hate: Why Symbols Matter” event in April 2018. 100+ people attended event at Arlington Town Hall.
Regularly attended and participated in Massachusetts Association of Human Rights Commission (MAHRC) meetings and ADL’s Northeast Regional Advisory Committee
Continued cosponsorship of the Town’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration.
Hosted popular booths at Town Day and Feast of the East. Distributed over 350 Has No Home Here lawn signs, window signs and car magnets in English, Urdu, Korean, Hebrew, Arabic, Spanish.
Collaborated with APD, C4RJ and APS to put on “Understanding Restorative Justice” Panel event. Roughly 75 people attended event at the Arlington Senior Center.
Organized community gatherings outside Town Hall in response to hate graffiti incident at AHS and the Tree of Life shooting in Pittsburgh. Hundreds attended both gatherings.
Crafted and released over 10 public statements in response to incidents.
Sent several e-correspondence via MailChimp to our list of over 400 subscribers. Posted 64 times on Facebook, reaching nearly 19,000 people. Posted 65 Tweets.
Continued sending an AHRC commissioner to the regular meetings of the Superintendent’s Diversity Advisory Committee.
Continued pursuing a liaison program between the AHRC and APS.
Continued to send a AHRC commissioner to serve on the Town’s Surveillance Study Committee.
Incidents and Complaint Response
Hate incidents continue to rise, with increasing complaints of tagging/graffiti of hate messages and other forms of hate speech.
Collected information regarding hate incidents occurring in Arlington from citizens and APD, as follows: 4 formal complaints from citizens; 15 hate incident cases referred by APD; and 4 incidents received from community members.
Of the hate incidents that occurred, 7 involved APS.
Continues to work closely with the APD and APS to learn of, track and, where necessary, address incidents involving graffiti, texting, racist speech, anti-Semitic speech and threats, and racial profiling.
Currently collaborating with APD and APS to develop uniform guidelines for responding to hate incidents in any of the Town’s public schools.
Support APS Diversity and Inclusion Groups by co-sponsoring programs, events and curriculum support.
Reevaluate and streamline cohesive and comprehensive protocol checklist to be used in the event of a hate incident or hate crime.
Launch new and improved AHRC website.
Continue presence at town events and community gatherings.
Submit warrant article in support of name change from Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day.
Host Double Take Storytelling Event and support other community building events.