6.1 min readBy Published On: June 13th, 2020Categories: News0 Comments on Recap of Mayor Walsh’s Press Conference on Friday, June 12th

Be informed! Here’s a recap of Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s COVID-19 press briefing on Friday, June 12, 2020.

As a reminder, we will be celebrating Boston Public Schools seniors this Saturday with a virtual commencement. Tune in to WCVB at 7:30 p.m. or Entravision Boston at 11 p.m. to show your support for the Class of 2020. This Twitter post from the Mayor includes graphics in both English and Spanish. Thank you!

Case numbers:

  • As of yesterday (Thursday) in Massachusetts: 104,667 cases and 7,492 deaths.

  • Also as of yesterday in Boston: 13,118 cases, 673 deaths, and 7,987 recoveries.

Declaration of racism as an emergency and a public health crisis:

  • The Mayor declared racism an emergency and a public health crisis in the City of Boston. He stated that the impacts of historic and systemic racism are clear in Boston’s COVID-19 case numbers, and that the impacts go far beyond the current crisis.

  • The Mayor is backing this declaration with an initial investment of $3 million transferred from the police overtime budget to the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC).

  • BPHC will work with City departments on strategies to directly address the impact racism has on the lives and health of Boston residents.

  • Marty Martinez, Chief of Health and Human Services for the City of Boston, said this:

    • “Racism is a driving force that shapes access to the social determinants of health like housing, education, and employment, and it’s a barrier to health equity for all Bostonians. The executive order that the Mayor will launch and the declaration that racism is a public health crisis is an important step in ensuring intentional focus on this work…

We will work on an 8-step strategy to approach this work led by the BPHC in partnership with HHS… That will include an assessment of health equity in all of our policies to identify where there are gaps and where we can create real measures of success.

We will create a Greater Boston Health Equity Now Plan that will detail objective and measurable goals that will get to the root causes of these inequities, not simply just respond to them…

We will have complete and regular availability of specific race and ethnicity data that documents the health inequities that exist so that we can ensure that we are collecting, disseminating, and looking at the gaps that exist in partnership with our hospitals and healthcare centers…

We will continue our focus on access to prevention and treatment that is culturally and linguistically competent; we will develop direct service programs and services that address the negative impact of these inequalities; and we will join advocacy at the national and state level for these policies.”

Establishment of new measures for law enforcement accountability:

  • The Mayor endorsed the 10-point action plan put forward by the Black and Latino Legislative Caucus and other elected officials of color in Boston and the Commonwealth. He thanked the elected officials for their advocacy, particularly the Boston City Council.

  • The Boston Police Department has completed its review of the use-of-force policies outlined by the national 8 Can’t Wait movement. The BPD is clarifying its rules to meet the standards, and has immediately implemented several reforms. These are use-of-force policies proven to reduce the likelihood of violence.

  • The Boston Police Department is also adopting a training program known as Ethical Policing is Courageous (EPIC). Officers will be required to intervene if they witness unnecessary use of force, and they will also be trained with strategies for preventing abuses.

  • The Mayor also announced that moving forward, the Boston Police Department will no longer use the “hair test” for evidence of drug use in officers or recruits.

Proposal to reallocate funding from law enforcement into other community resources and programming:

  • The Mayor announced new steps he is taking in the FY2021 budget to further ground public safety in community health and wellbeing. He is proposing to reallocate 20%, or $12 million, from the Boston Police Department’s overtime budget.

  • This money will be invested instead into community programs for youth, for the homeless, and for people who are struggling with the effects of inequality. That includes:

  • $3 million to implement the City’s declaration of racism as an emergency and a public health crisis;

  • $1 million to support trauma response and counseling at the Boston Public Health Commission;

  • $2 million for community investments through other city departments— including violence prevention, language access, food security, immigrant advancement, elder support, and the Human Rights Commission;

  • $2 million for programs supporting minority and women-owned businesses;

  • $2 million for housing security and ending youth homelessness; and

  • $2 million for emergency clinicians and mental health supports provided through the Boston Police Department when they respond to residents in crisis.

Signing the Obama Foundation’s Mayor’s Pledge:

  • The Mayor has signed onto the Mayor’s Pledge issued by the Obama Foundation’s My Brother’s Keeper Alliance. My Brother’s Keeper was launched in 2014 to empower young men and women of color. Boston has been a leading member of this alliance since its founding.

  • The Mayor’s pledge states that signers will 1) review Police use-of-force policies; 2) engage communities by including a diverse range of input, experiences, and stories; 3) report the findings of the review to the community and seek feedback; and 4) reform use-of-force policies based on that conversation.

Creation of a new task force:

  • The Mayor announces the creation of a new task force, led by Bostonians from civil rights organizations, the legal community, and the faith community.

  • It will be chaired by Wayne Budd, the former U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts and a respected longtime leader in Boston’s legal and civil rights communities.

  • The Task Force will conduct an immediate review of force policies and other equity issues at the Boston Police Department. It will also provide guidance on how we strengthen the Community Ombudsman Oversight Panel, the Co-op Board, to ensure that their work is effective. The Mayor committed to accept any changes that they recommend on the Co-op Board.

  • The Task Force will begin immediately and produce recommendations within 60 days. The community will then have time to review the recommendations and provide feedback. The City will announce reforms later this year.

Boston’s role in the national movement for racial justice:

The Mayor closed with this reflection:

  • “We are not going to let this moment or this movement pass us by. I have pledged to make Boston a national leader in this work, and we are following through on that pledge…

As a white elected official, I have depended on the guidance of leaders of color and residents of color. I want to thank them for their leadership and their partnership. State legislators. Members of my cabinet. Members of the City Hall staff. Friends and former colleagues who have been reaching out every day for over two weeks. And, the officers of color in the Boston Police Dept, who are respected and beloved members of our community…

I also want to remind us that systemic change must go far beyond law enforcement. We began this year by launching bold plans that call for record investments in school equity and housing equity, in particular…

Whether fighting the COVID virus or the virus of racism:  We are going to move forward in equity and we are going to lead, inspired by the best aspects of our history and guided by the diverse members of our community.”

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