Racial Equity and Social Justice Initiatives
|Commitment to Learning||In the immediate aftermath of the murder of George Floyd, staff began meeting in virtual discussion groups to explore the relationships between the law, society, privilege, policing and race through a discussion and lecture based curriculum.|
|Listening||As part of ongoing discussions, we have brought in outside speakers from Harvard Law School, Suffolk Law School, Cambridge Police, Boston NAACP, ACLU and Brigham Young University. For a full list of speakers, please click here.|
|Youth Empowerment||We are focused on hearing and amplifying the voices of our youth. We are working with our schools and community organizations to engage high school students in a series of social justice roundtable discussions facilitated by our office. We hope to empower young people to examine social issues, including racial justice, and lead as advocates for change in their community.|
|Informing our Work Through a Racial Equity Lens|
in 2020, the Middlesex District Attorney's Office created a new full time position of Director of Racial Justice Initiatives. This individual will be tasked with identifying issues and develop policies related to policing and race in the communities of Middlesex County as well as work with ADAs and other staff to address possible racial bias in our prosecutions and better track office outcomes.
|Engaging the Community||The Middlesex District Attorney’s Office has created an Anti-Hate, Anti-Bias task force that calls on community partners to discuss occurrences of hate in the community and explore how to address them through a multi-pronged approach that includes not only education and prevention but seeks to repair the damage done by these acts.|
How to report an incident of Hate/Bias / Cómo reportar un incidente?
- Report a Community Incident Motivated by Hate/Bias
- Reportar un Incidente Motivado por Odio o Prejuicio en la Comunidad
Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan, along with Senator Cynthia Stone Creem and Representative Christine Barber, filed a bill in March 2021 to expand the “hate crime” statute to provide more protections for renters or other individuals targeted at their homes or property for their race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability regardless of whether or not they own that property. The legislation is a step forward in ensuring safety and security for everyone in all of our cities and towns. Recognizing that these are community issues, this bill would give law enforcement the tools to hold individuals accountable for intentional acts meant to discriminate and intimidate.
The bill takes an additional step to ensure that, if restitution is paid for the damaged property to its owner, restitution must be used to restore the damage so that it no longer intimidates the intended victim(s).
Social Justice Roundtables
In the summer of 2020, the Office launched a series of virtual social justice roundtable discussions with high school students. This initiative is a part of the Office's ongoing commitment to empowering young people and examining issues of equity and justice in our communities. Our first roundtable series was hosted in partnership with the YWCA Lowell and the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Lowell.
The curriculum was designed to empower our young people to examine social issues, including racial justice, and lead as advocates for change in their community. The roundtables are facilitated by staff in the Middlesex District Attorney's Office, approximately 1 hour a week for 4 weeks via Zoom. These conversations have been led by the new Director of Racial Justice Initiatives, Antonia Thompson.
Engaging the Community
- Anti-Hate Anti-Bias Task Force
In 2020, the Middlesex District Attorney's Office launched the Anti-Hate, Anti-Bias Task Force to address the increase of hateful, biased and racist incidents occurring in the Middlesex County. The goal of this task force is to identify, address and prevent these events from happening in the communities. It was created as a response to numerous incidents that have occurred across Middlesex County, including the defacing of a mural of George Floyd in Stoneham, anti-Semitic graffiti in Arlington and Bedford, and a man alleged to have driven at a crowd of Black Lives Matter protesters in Newton.
The Task Force, made up of stakeholders, including lawmakers, mayors, faith leaders, educators and youth leaders, community advocates and law enforcement takes a multi-pronged approach to engage the community in addressing these issues. By bringing together community leaders to address these incidents, the District Attorney’s Office will be able to more rapidly respond to incidents and recognize trends that will help with targeted prevention and education.
- 10/26/21: https://youtu.be/k-y59pygqGg
- 11/30/21: https://youtu.be/rLdgp806FeA
- 10/13/22: https://youtu.be/oUS7cwDlpq8
- 10/20/22: https://youtu.be/u9Rk_EQOB4Y
- 01/19/23: https://youtu.be/oCqvazH7O3w
- 03/09/23: https://youtu.be/bWFxEJ8MNaM
Informing our Work Through a Racial Equity Lens
Creating this role is a meaningful piece of District Attorney Ryan’s commitment to addressing issues of systemic racism and bias across the County. Antonia Soares Thompson, Director of Racial Initiatives, will deepen and expand the Office’s commitment to racial justice and the fairness of its prosecutorial work, create and implement trainings and education initiatives and develop policies related to racial equity across communities in Middlesex County.
This report is the result of a partnership between the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office the the Institute on Race and Justice (IRJ) at Northeastern University. At the request of the office the IRJ reviewed data on cases prosecuted the office in an effort to share some of this information with the public. As an illustration of the possibilities of this partnership the IRJ choose to review a bail reform initiative established by District Attorney Ryan. The full report can be viewed here: Middlesex County Bail Report - Northeastern University
Antonia Soares Thompson
Director of Racial Initiatives
Middlesex DA’s office reports 39% spike in hate-related incidents in one month
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In the past month, reports of hate-related incidents in Middlesex County increased 39% over the total received in the six months prior, according to the county district attorney's office.
“As soon as I learned about this incident, I knew that our task force had to respond,” Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan said at the meeting of her office’s Anti-Hate Anti-Bias Task Force, which was held remotely over Zoom. “Sadly, it’s incidents like this at the charter school several weeks ago that remind us that we need to be constantly vigilant against incidents of bias, hate, and ignorance.”
"We are acutely aware of the way in which these allegations tear at the fabric of trust, which exists between communities and the police departments which serve them," reads a statement that was posted on the Middlesex district attorney's office on Oct. 14.