Rockland mulls statement on protecting diversity
Rockland — The Rockland City Council will consider later this month whether to adopt a resolve that promotes diversity and takes action to protect people on the margins of society.
"I think it's needed now, because as we look for a new city manager we are looking to the future. And as a regional hub city, we want to lead and restate our belief in diversity," Councilor Ed Glaser said.
The resolve will be discussed at the Thursday, Feb. 23, City Council meeting.
Mayor Will Clayton said he was looking for more information.
"I will be looking for clarification, reasoning and statistical information on many items listed," Clayton said.
The resolution has gained support from the Woodstove Alliance, Asymmetrick Arts, Bella Luna Toys, Curator, the Dancing Elephant, Friends of Penobscot Bay, Hello Hello Books, Jonathan Frost Gallery, Knox County Democratic Committee, Mid-Coast Community Darkrooms, Midcoast Women's Collective, New Hope for Women, Over the Rainbow Yarn, Periscope, RHEAL Day Spa, the Ripple Initiative, Rockland Refuge Recovery, Steel House, One Less Worry, Playing with Fire, the Penobscot Language School and many individuals, according to Glaser's daughter, Becca Glaser, who is promoting the resolve.
"The resolution’s aim is to act both as symbolic gesture of our collective values, affirming our support for those who are most vulnerable, welcoming difference and commonality - -as well as to point the way forward, building on," Becca Glaser said.
The resolution proposes suggestions for putting further resources and energy toward specific issues.
Ed Glaser said Rockland has been a welcoming, tolerant community. "Historically, we were never a model of a true New England Yankee town. From our early days, we've had our share of immigrants from Sweden, Finland, Ireland and Italy, and there's been a strong Jewish presence for 150 years. That's the history we want to celebrate with this resolve," the councilor said.
He stressed that Rockland has not been immune to "nativist" strife. He pointed out the presence of the KKK in Rockland during the 1920s, and that several years ago Nazi graffiti was sprayed on the local synagogue.
He also noted that a few days before the November election, white supremacist literature was distributed to homes in Knox County.
The board of New Hope for Women voted unanimously last month to support the resolution. New Hope Executive Director Kathleen Morgan said the resolution was a "bold and positive" statement.
The resolve states "We as a community are resolved to welcome and celebrate difference, diversity, and individuality among residents, workers and visitors in all ways, including, but not limited to, ability, race, creed, national and cultural origin, immigration status, color, age, religious beliefs, class, neurodiversity, sexuality, gender identification, and gender expression.
"We stand in solidarity with all who are marginalized or threatened, and will work to make our community a safer place where each person’s dignity is honored. We believe that everyone has a right to clean air, clean water, shelter, safety, food and pleasure.
"We oppose any policy on the part of any government or business which scapegoats people, spreads inequality, and intentionally takes rights away from the most vulnerable among us.
"As a community, we intend to continue taking proactive action on the issues we face including, but not limited to, reducing poverty, homelessness, climate change, the criminalization of addiction, sexual assault, racism and domestic violence. We will continue the work we are doing to improve health care access, fair wages, affordable housing, addiction treatment, training for police and first responders in diversity and harm reduction, while maintaining a productive harbor and healthy working waterfront, creating safer school environments, increasing accessibility for people with disabilities and to gender-inclusive bathrooms, and bettering quality of life for all. We want this city to always be a safe place for those needing shelter and will endeavor to provide secure shelter to any who need it.
"Rockland will also continue doing its part to protect the environment and mitigate climate change through local action aimed at reducing waste and pollution, planning for rising seas, promoting energy efficiency and sustainable generation, and being good stewards of our natural resources."
Rockland Deputy Police Chief Chris Young said Tuesday that the department had not seen an increase in hate crimes in the past few months.
Young pointed out that the department has three officers who are certified by the Maine Criminal Justice Academy in investigating possible civil rights crimes.