The Massachusetts State Legislature session concludes this Friday, July 31st. So far in the session, our leaders have failed to enact several important pieces of legislation that will improve the livelihoods of the most vulnerable members of our community. It is not enough for us to hope that these bills become law; we can take action by urging our legislators to pass these key bills. Use this form to contact your legislator, or take some of the recommended actions below.
The fate of Massachusetts is in your hands; do your part today to determine a more just and safe future for your state and your neighbors.
Change the Flag and Seal, ban Native Mascots, protect Native heritage!
The time has come to change the white supremacist state flag and seal of Massachusetts, which features a white hand holding a Colonial broadsword over the head of a Native American. Mississippi just voted to remove the Confederate symbol from its state flag, leaving Massachusetts as the last flag of white supremacy flying in the country. This image is a disgrace to the progressive traditions of our Commonwealth, an offense to Native people, and to everyone who upholds the value of racial justice for all. After 36 years of stalling, it is time for the flag and seal change. Contact your legislators here.
Close to 40 schools in Massachusetts use stereotypical and harmful representations of Native Americans as their mascot. Multiple Native Nations have issued statements in support of this legislation, including the Chappaquiddick Tribe of the Wampanoag Nation, Herring Pond Wampanoag Tribe, Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, the Massachusett Tribe at Ponkapoag, and Nipmuc Nation. Research reveals that Native American mascots are harmful to Native American youth because they generate a hostile climate for learning, and they are also harmful to non-Native youth because they reinforce stereotypes of Native Americans. While some people have made efforts to eliminate these mascots in their towns, it is hard to overcome local opposition. Further, these mascots are a civil rights issue and are experienced by people outside of the towns directly affected by them. This is why you must vote for – the language as originally introduced in S.247 – on bill S. 2593, to Prohibit Native American mascots in public schools in the Commonwealth.
Finally, advocacy continues for “An Act to Protect Native American Heritage” (S.1811). This bill would refine Native Americans Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) enforcement to include all publicly funded entities in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. If passed into law, this would further ensure the repatriation of sacred and funerary objects to the tribal communities of origin as well as deter such objects away from auction houses. This bill must be passed, because as Chairwoman Cheryl Andrews-Malthais of Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) testified in 2016, “tribal cultural heritage belongs to the tribal community of its origin as a whole. And by tribal custom, cannot be alienated from that community by any individual or group without the expressed free, prior, and informed consent of that tribe.”
Fight for Racial Justice and More Equitable Law Enforcement in Your Community!
As the country reels to improve the evidently racist criminal justice system, Massachusetts must also confront its history of racial oppression and unjust policing. Earlier this month, the state House of Representatives passed “An Act relative to justice, equity and accountability in law enforcement,” which will create an independent Massachusetts Police Standards and Training Commission. It also bans choke holds, places limits on no-knock warrants, creates a duty to intervene for officers witnessing excessive force, and establishes that a person in custody cannot consent to sexual relations with a law enforcement officer, among other stipulations.
The bill, however, is far from perfect. In the words of Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, “In order to make any laws about excessive use of force or other police abuses meaningful, Massachusetts must reform our civil rights laws – including by ending qualified immunity, which denies victims their day in court. When the final bill is negotiated, it should empower victims of police violence to seek justice for the harms they have suffered and to hold abusive officers directly accountable.”
Time is running out to pass enact life-saving legislation. As this bill is reconciled with that of the Senate, consider urging your legislators to include the necessary and life-saving reforms before Friday.
Support MA Power Forward’s 100% Renewable by 2045 Bill (H.2836)
We have an opportunity this week to make sure our legislators know that a MA commitment to 100% renewable energy is a priority for our communities. There is another environmental roadmap bill (H.3983) being pushed forward this week by Speaker DeLeo, but this is not a strong bill according to environmental organizations. We have an opportunity to advocate for the 100% Renewable Energy by 2045 bill (H.2836), sponsored by MA Power Forward, to be added as an amendment to this environmental roadmap legislation.
Please call your legislator and advocate that they support H.2836’s priorities in an amendment to this environmental roadmap, H.3983. Here is a sample script for you to use:
Hi, my name is _______ and I am a constituent at [your address]. As we see more incredibly hot days this summer, and growing extreme weather all over the world, it is clear that MA needs to do its part in moving to renewable energy as fast as possible. Any climate crisis legislation this year in the State House must include 100% renewable energy by 2045 at the very least. [Your rep.’s name], please vote yes on the 100% renewable bill, H.2836, or any related legislation, at the first chance that arises. The crisis is here, now, and we need to move forward without hesitation.
Immigration Justice is Justice for All – Support Movemiento Cosecha’s Drivers Licenses for All Campaign!
Cosecha Massachusetts, our local hub of the immigration justice movement, Movemiento Cosecha, has been camping outside of the MA State House for 10 days demanding action on their two year-long campaign to grant driver’s licenses to immigrant families. When undocumented members of our community go to work, take their kids to school, or to the doctor, they are in danger of being deported for driving without a driver’s license.
There is an amendment to the Economic Development Bond Bill that would address this, which has been advocated for by the Driving Families Forward coalition and largely ignored by legislators.
You can support this action several ways:
(1) Call Rep. Robert Deleo, President of the Lower Camera at (857) 226-9770 and Rep. Carlos Gonzalez, President of the Board black Legislative Latina at (617) 766-0206;
(2) Show up to socially-distantly support the encampment at the State House, or to bring supplies or gifts to the protesters;
(3) Share the story of the encampment with your networks to make this struggle more known in our communities.
Guaranteed Housing Stability Bill – Ask your Senator (SD 2992) and Representative (HD 5166) to Co-Sponsor Today!
While we do not yet know the full extent of the economic repercussions of the pandemic, we do now that far more families than ever are at risk for displacement and homelessness in Massachusetts. Governor Baker has extended the eviction and foreclosure moratorium to October 17th, but this is not an adequate solution.
The Commonwealth was already in the midst of a historic housing crisis before COVID-19. If we fail to act now, we will face a massive wave of evictions and foreclosures. The consequences will likely be new surges of infection, increased displacement, further destruction of neighborhoods, and increased numbers of people experiencing homelessness. This unprecedented crisis requires strong action to protect vulnerable residents, safeguard public health, and set the stage for a strong and equitable economic recovery.
Speak out for the Guaranteed Housing Stability bill to prevent an eviction crisis in Massachusetts. Submit testimony in support of the bill to the MA State House by Tuesday, July 28th. Use this link: https://www.housingguarantee.org/submit_testimony?sp_ref=659919634.392.209346.e.0.2 #HousingGuaranteeMA
Take action today! Ask your legislators to pass these bills this week!