Mayor Gary Christenson announces a “UniteMalden 2020” initiative which is comprised of five specific action steps intended to immediately begin addressing racial inequity.
“This has been a trying time for our country, the effects of which have truly been felt here in our city. The murder of George Floyd was both tragic and wrong. It has, however, generated a conversation that is critical to us recognizing the reality of the work we must do as a community to overcome the continued obstacles that people of color encounter on a day to day basis,” stated Christenson.
“We know that racism is real,” commented Christenson. “We know that black lives matter. We know that you can’t fix a system that was designed to discriminate with empty words. The term UniteMalden is intended to convey our goal to begin to eliminate barriers and obstacles, address prejudices and discrimination head on, and embrace our role as a city where every resident is respected, treated fairly, and welcomed in all aspects of our government and community.”
The specific actions of the UniteMalden 2020 initiative are as follows:
1. Declare Racism a Public Health Crisis
Malden officially recognizes racism as a public health issue and declares a public health emergency to address the negative impacts racism is having on the physical and mental well-being of our residents. By declaring this foundational statement, we commit to a response to this crisis that matches the scope of the problem.
2. Institute a Police Department Community Review Board
This five-member review board will be composed of Malden residents who are representative of the community and they will have the following objectives:
- Review existing policies, practices and procedures of the Malden Police Department (MPD) and recommend changes that guarantee accountability as it relates to the fair and respectful treatment of all residents.
- Review use of force policies and carry out the steps required in the Obama Foundation’s Pledge to Action.
- Review allegations of police misconduct primarily through a peer review and audit of internal investigations conducted by the MPD.
- Report on metrics related to complaints of police misconduct.
- Develop strategies to promote positive police/community relations and provide opportunities for open dialogue and discussion.
The Police Department Community Review Board will be funded with a $50,000 appropriation recommended to the City Council to help with resources to achieve the objectives outlined above.
3. Fund a full-time Director of Equity, Inclusion and Community Engagement
This position will play a critical role with increasing the focus on diversity, equity and inclusion both inside city government and across the city. The responsibilities of the person in this position will include:
- Working collaboratively with other cities to identify best practices and documented procedures and goals related to diversity and inclusion in Malden.
- Participating in all hiring panels (including Boards and Commissions) to ensure that city government reflects the diversity of the city.
- Establishing and maintaining relationships with community organizations representing our diverse population.
- Report regularly on metrics measuring our progress.
4. Create a 3-2-1 ‘Diversity in Hiring’ Initiative
The City of Malden will establish the following hiring practices:
- Every applicant pool will contain 3 minority members of the Malden community.
- For every 2 positions filled, a minimum of 1 will be from the pool of minority candidates
- For every interview panel, the Director of Equity, Inclusion and Community Engagement shall be a voting member and will report annually on the actual results against these goals.
- The Director of Equity, Inclusion and Community Engagement will report annually on the actual results against these goals.
5. Recognition of Juneteenth as an official Holiday in the City of Malden
Juneteenth represents the oldest known celebration of the abolition of slavery in the United States. It dates back to June 19, 1865 when Union soldiers arrived in Texas to deliver the news that the Civil War had ended, and that all enslaved people were to be freed. In Malden, we will be commemorating Juneteenth for the third year in a row with an annual flag raising and community celebration, albeit virtually this year, thanks to dedicated community groups like MaldenCORE. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts officially recognized Juneteenth as a state holiday in 2007, and this year, the City of Malden will not just celebrate the day, but also officially recognize it as a city holiday to honor the history, sacrifices and legacy of our African American community.