(On June 2, 2020, Joshua Weiner, David Timpanaro and Jeanette Hernandez submitted the following letter to the Randolph Township Council)
Dear Township Council:
I write on behalf of myself, David Timpanaro and Jeanette Hernandez and our campaign for Randolph Township Council.
As you undoubtedly have recognized, this community has been wracked with pain not just by the events unfolding around the nation during the past week, but in our own backyard as well. The individuals who were the perpetrators of such racist, bigoted, misogynistic and bullying behavior have reminded us of an important reality that has been minimized and, in some instances, ignored by this community for far too-long: hatred exists in Randolph, and it has infected our children.
While we applaud the Council for its recent statement condemning “hateful and racist comments” and its non tolerance of “acts of hate, racism or bias,” this pronouncement does not condemn the existence of racism, hate and bigotry. “Acts” and “comments” are just the symptoms of hateful people. The issue that needs to be tackled aggressively is the systemic existence of hatred and ignorance in our community. While the Council as a group as well as individually undoubtedly condemn the existence of hatred and bigotry in addition to their expression, the pain and anguish felt by the community at this particular moment in time demands a more expansive and proactive response by the Council.
On May 30, 2020, our campaign, by and through our Facebook page, asked this Council to issue a resolution “condemning racism and discrimination in all forms.” Today, we were very pleased to learn that the Council acknowledged the importance of our request and scheduled a special Council meeting for June 4, 2020 “to consider a resolution denouncing bigotry, racism and discrimination” and that further “action will be taken.” We certainly intend on attending this meeting, not just in support of a broad-based resolution denouncing hatred and ignorance in our community, but to also learn what additional “action” the Council intends on taking.
We have given this substantial consideration, and have spoken with numerous members of the community, including community leaders, activists and Board of Education members. One thing we learned is that, notwithstanding any actions taken by the Council, there exists a grassroots movement of concerned citizens who intend on setting up community task forces to compile, learn and consider how best to address the scourge of hatred in our beloved Township. The level of outreach, consideration and effort that we have seen from the members of our community has been nothing short of spectacular. If nothing else, the almost universal condemnation that has been expressed regarding what had previously been an unspoken elephant in the room, leaves us with hope that real action, and not just words, will be taken by the community's leadership.
The other thing we have learned is that the best way to effectuate the necessary change is through sound public policy and social programs. The only way either can be implemented by community leadership is through the formation of a joint task force, with the inclusion and participation of the School District. This joint task force should consist of a liaison from the Council, one from the Board of Education, and a representative from the police and school administration. In addition, this task force should be comprised of subject-matter experts, including but not necessarily limited to law, law enforcement, social workers, medical professionals, mental health specialists and educators. If created, it would be our pleasure to serve on such a task force in our respective roles as an attorney, social worker and medical professional. Furthermore, and most importantly, the task force should be primarily manned and led by those members of the community who have and/or continue to be the victim of prejudice/bias/discrimination in our community. Any action taken by the Council must be fully informed by the very people who have been most impacted by hatred and ignorance. Otherwise, the task force, while potentially well-meaning and hopefully efficacious, will be incomplete.
With a stated mission and funding, this task force will have the ability to investigate and advise both the Council and Board of Education on what appropriate public policy and social programs should be enacted to facilitate the necessary education and assistance needed to combat hatred and ignorance. In addition to this task force, whose stated mission will have a finite duration, we also recommend the creation of a standing Committee on Equality and Inclusion, to consist of Township residents whose stated goal will be to advise the Council on the state of race and ethnic relations within the community and to create and run various educational programs and events similar to those run by the Municipal Alliance Committee. This will not be a sprint to the finish but a marathon, and the creation of a standing committee whose sole focus will be keeping tabs on the progress our community makes is a necessary step in creating an effective strategy in combating hatred.
We thus call upon the Council to continue what it started this weekend with its joint statement and go the necessary further steps to fully address and tackle what has caused so much pain and anguish to our fellow residents. Collective outrage is a good thing when it is productive and effectuates the necessary change. The residents of this Township have thus far stepped up to the task and demonstrated that they are ready, willing and able to take on what will be a monumental, but all-important task.
We thank you for your time and consideration of this matter. We trust that this issue will not fade away with the weekly news cycle, and that the Council will keep its eye on the ball and see this through.
Joshua Weiner, David Timpanaro and Jeanette Hernandez