As a town-appointed committee, the Marblehead Task Force Against Discrimination was created over 30 years ago in response to an antisemitic incident in town. Since this time, the Task Force (composed of nine community members) has transitioned from a primarily reactive body into a more proactive one responsible for fighting discrimination and bigotry through education, speakers, rallies, book clubs, films, and accompanying discussions. Most recently, the Task Force has joined the Marblehead Racial Justice Team in a town-wide Hands Up project, while also helping to coordinate the Juneteenth Flag Raising at Abbot Hall and participating in Pride Day as well.
As an ex officio member since he was appointed chief of police, Chief Picariello has consistently attended our meetings and provided updates and insight into incidents that took place in town, while always being as transparent as investigations would allow. It should also be noted that whether or not an arrest is made is not a reflection of the time, effort, and resources put into specific cases. For example, the average clearance rate for violent crimes across the Northeast is just above 50 percent (See Table 26, www.ucr.fib.gov), however, this does not mean that jurisdictions are not taking violent crime seriously.
Additionally, we find it surprising that in its proclamation of wrongdoing, the Jewish Journal (Jewish Journal, July 1, “Marblehead and antisemitism”) has not even mentioned the creation of the Marblehead Coalition under the auspices of the Board of Selectmen which is comprised of members of the Task Force, the Police Department, the Superintendent of Schools, the Ministerial Association, the Racial Justice Team, the League of Women Voters, Team Harmony, METCO, and the Marblehead Museum. The primary mission of the Coalition is to create a more inclusive Marblehead.
Finally, stating that incidents in our town “reveal a culture of permissiveness and a lack of transparency when it comes to Marblehead’s official response to hate crimes” is not only inaccurate, but is surprisingly dismissive of the work that so many continue to do in Town. We find the collaborative work being done in town to be a more inclusive and productive approach to addressing our issues rather than smearing others through ink in an attempt to push forward what appears to be individual agendas.
Helaine R. Hazlett and Rev. Dr. Anne Marie Hunter
Co-chairs, Marblehead Task Force Against Discrimination