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Town Council approves changes to previously adopted resolution Welcoming All People following special workshop

During a special Town Council meeting on June 22, 2020 which directly followed a special workshop via Zoom Video conferencing, the Town Council voted 6-0 in favor of making changes to the Resolution Welcoming All People into Our Community of June 6, 2017. The revised resolution is included below:



WHEREAS, native and foreign-born residents of many faiths and cultures have richly contributed to the quality of life in Cape Elizabeth;

WHEREAS, Cape Elizabeth prides itself on being a community fostering neither fear nor division, but instead respect and tolerance of difference;

WHEREAS, we, the elected officials of Cape Elizabeth, have an important leadership role in representing our Town's collective values against racism, bias, discrimination, violence, and hate;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT HEREBY RESOLVED, that the Town of Cape Elizabeth:

1. Welcomes residents of all cultures, celebrates the benefits of a pluralistic society, and respects the right of every person or group to live and practice their self-determined identity, culture, and faith without fear;

2. Condemns actions of hate, violence, or discrimination directed against any citizen or group, including but not limited to immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and any persons unjustly or unfairly treated due to their religion, ethnicity, race, class, nationality, country of origin, age, ability, sexuality, or gender;

3. Affirms that anyone targeted on the basis of such differences should be able to turn to the Town's officials and fellow citizens without fear of discrimination;

4. Encourages forums and other opportunities where civil and respectful dialogue may take place to promote better understanding and mutual appreciation among our residents;

5. Commits to substantive action to combat racism, bias, discrimination, violence, and hate.

Prior to the vote in the special meeting, the resolution was discussed at the special workshop and included Police Chief Paul Fenton. Town Council Chair Valerie Adams offered apologies that the workshop had not happened sooner and that more had not been done since the resolution passed in June of 2017. Approximately 10 community members spoke during the opportunity for public comment. All but one citizen were in favor of the Town Council establishing action steps in favor of addressing racial inequality in Cape Elizabeth.

Adams asked the Town Council if they wanted to reaffirm the resolution or make changes to it. Councilor Penny Jordan suggested that the fourth statement in the resolution should offer a stronger statement against racism, by including the words "racism" and "bias." Jordan also suggested incorporating efforts to combat and re-evaluate racism annually under a multitude of sectors, such as education, town staffing, and town government. Councilor Chris Straw recommended that the first "Whereas" statement be removed as it is not an accurate statement. Straw also pointed out that the resolution is ineffective if it does not also create action. Adams recommended that the Town Council commit to substantive action steps by requesting the Appointments Committee to create a new committee in support of racial equality and justice. [news article]