He has been for quite some time, from a thoughtful approach to smart growth, a wise road not taken on the Olympics proposal, and a commitment to sustainability and mixed use development that has allowed Somerville to leapfrog ahead of other municipalities. His commitment to e-government, 311, and an incubator of policy students working on issues affecting Somerville shows a vision beyond the confines of his densely packed small city. I have long viewed him as a future candidate for statewide or congressional office.
And his bold leadership today takes the cake. Joe Curatone has put City Hall on the side of Black Lives Matter activists, aligning his city, the police department he commands, and the entire community with the civil rights issue of our time. This is bold leadership and this is the kind of leadership every Democratic official in our state should be taking.
Why Curatone Made the Move:
“We see this as an important opportunity for an important national conversation” about race, Curtatone said. He said the move was “a very clear statement we are making to the community that we recognize that structural racism exists in our society; it exists in our public and private institutions.”
How Black Lives Matter Has Responded:
Stephanie Guirand, lead organizer of Black Lives Matter Cambridge, said the group was honored that Curtatone agreed to hang the banner and work with them closely.
“He said all the things we wanted to hear about being on the right side of history,” she said.
How it is a recognition that he needs to listen and improve:
When asked if he thinks racism is a problem in Somerville, he said, “Racism exists everywhere.”
“In our public institutions, we can remove it,” he said.
Somerville Police Endorse the Banner:
Curtatone said the partnership is not meant to criticize the work of the Somerville Police Department, which he referred to as a model for community-based policing efforts. He said it was actually a “statement of faith” in the department.
“They’re fantastic,” he said, adding that the police chief supports the cause. “This is not just about law enforcement. The goal is to address racism in all of our other public and private institutions. We are in this as a whole city, not with just a focus on police.”