Essex County Community Organization

ECCO marches for reforms on Monday

LYNN — Essex County Community Organization (ECCO) members on Monday evening march from Lynn to Swampscott to call for racial justice, criminal justice reform and protection of immigrant families.

The march, according to an ECCO statement, begins with marchers assembling at 5 p.m. Monday at Zion Baptist Church, 4 Adams St. extension, Lynn, and marching to Red Rock Park on Lynn Shore Drive.

At 6 p.m. marchers will proceed from Red Rock Park to First Church, 40 Monument Ave., Swampscott, for a 6:45 p.m. rally and celebration.

Monday’s march, according to ECCO member Nicole McClain, will follow testimony by ECCO members at the State House in Boston encouraging state legislators to end “mandatory minimums.”

McClain said mandatory minimums are court sentencing standards that “disproportionately affect people of color and pressure defendants to plea bargain even if they are innocent.”

‘This is not something we get used to’

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
The Rev. Jane Gould of St. Stephen’s Memorial Episcopal Church is seen during the blessing of Muriel Clement.

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

LYNN — More than 100 people gathered at Zion Baptist Church to remember Leonardo Clement, 46, who was killed in an Easter shooting in Central Square, and pray for Prince Belin, who was also shot in the attack.

“We pray that in this time of pain, God will fulfill Easter’s promise that out of death and hopelessness new life will emerge,” said the Rev. Brian Flynn of St. Mary’s Parish.

Both men were active leaders for Essex County Community Organization (ECCO) and Zion Baptist Church. Clement headed a Beloved Community Campaign and helped organize a legislative assembly just last week. His mother, Muriel Clement, served as ECCO’s president in the 1990s. Belin has been speaking at events, telling his story to fight what he calls an an unjust bail system.

According to the organization, the men were walking home from Easter services when they were gunned down.

The two men were shot in front of the LynnArts building at 25 Exchange St. on Easter Sunday, April 16. Clement was taken to Union Hospital where he was pronounced dead. The other man, who was identified by police only as a 41-year-old man, but identified by ECCO as Berlin, was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital and is expected to survive.

“Lenny’s life — it wasn’t something to be politicized,” said the Rev. Annie Belmer of Zion Baptist. “This is not usual for us. This is not something we get used to. When the mayor and others say that crime is like a stumbling block and say that this isn’t Lynn — as if we aren’t Lynn. This is where we live, this is our community. Those statements sounded like Lenny and his friend deserved what they got because they might have known these people.”

Rev. to shooter: You came to the wrong place

Clement’s friends Bob and June St. Pierre described him to be “peaceful and gentle” and musical with a good sense of humor.

“He was quiet but funny,” said Bob St. Pierre. “You had to get to know him to get his sense of humor. You’d walk away and a few minutes later you’d get the joke.”

Clement sang in the church’s choir and played in a steel drum band called the Crystal Pan Jammers.

“Lenny never deserved to be shot,” St. Pierre said. “He wasn’t at the wrong place at the wrong time. The guy who shot him was at the wrong place at the wrong time. Lenny never did anything to deserve this.”

Belmer called Clement an intellectual person who was very self sufficient, and, though he was legally blind, never let his disability define him.

“Right now, his eyes are seeing the glory,” she said.

Police release details on Easter shooting suspect

The crowd broke into groups to brainstorm ways to ensure that people do not stand alone and discuss what needs to be done to prevent senseless acts of violence in the community.

Flynn, who is also the president of ECCO, announced a new No One Stands Alone Fund. Money raised will assist in Clement’s funeral and burial services, support Berlin in his recovery, and, in the future, will support community members in crisis in Clement’s name.

Meanwhile, Massachusetts State Police announced Thursday afternoon they are searching for a suspect in the shooting. William A. Cash, also known as William S. Banks, is wanted by the Essex County State Police Detective Unit and the Lynn Police Department Detective Unit.

The 44-year-old is described by police as a black man with black hair and brown eyes. He is 5 feet 10 inches tall and about 330 pounds, police said. He has ties to Boston and the Lynn area, as well as Florida, police said. He may be driving a silver or gray 2005 Chrysler 300 with Massachusetts plates 3FS819.

The gun involved in the shooting has not been recovered and police warn that Cash should be considered armed and dangerous.

Donations to the No One Stands Alone Fund can be made at youcaring.com/NoOneStandsAlone.


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte

ECCO advocates for justice reform

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
A crowd applauds at the at the Essex County Community Organization meeting.

By LEAH DEARBORN

LYNN — Criminal justice reform was the topic for several hundred residents of North Shore communities who gathered at St. Stephen’s Church Thursday evening with several of their legislative representatives.

In an event sponsored by the Essex County Community Organization (ECCO), legislators and guest speakers were invited to address the crowd, specifically about support for the Justice Reinvestment Act and bail reform.

State Reps. Brendan Crighton, Daniel Cahill, Paul Tucker, a representative of Tom Walsh’s office and state Sen. Thomas McGee (D-Lynn) attended.

One of the first topics was mandatory sentencing minimums. Rev. Annie Belmer of Zion Baptist Church in Lynn told about her son Elijah, who was incarcerated following a $200 robbery in 1999.  

She said her son’s bail was set too high for the family to pay, and they were pressured with a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years. He served seven years in prison as a result.

“By the way, Massachusetts, I want you to know — time served,” said Belmer as she walked off the stage to applause.

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Other speakers advocated raising the felony threshold from $250 to $1,500 and cited the damage caused by the accrual of fees during incarceration.

“A conviction is a lifelong rejection stamp,” said Rev. Sarah Van Gulden from St. Stephen’s, who argued that many young people make mistakes that alter the course of their entire lives.

Speaker Sean Ellis introduced himself as “W59259,” the number he was given while imprisoned on a conviction that was later overturned.

He said funds to pay witnesses following his trial came from the pockets of family members. Ellis referred to others on parole who pay $80 per month to be monitored, but struggle to find employment because of their record.

“We need a system that evaluates,” said speaker Prince Berlin, who was there to advocate for the elimination of pre-trial incarceration. “Our jails should not be modern debt collections facilities.” 

Swampscott talks about a safe place

PHOTO BY ALENA KUZUB
A group gathers at the Sanctuary Movement event at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Greater Lynn in Swampscott.

By MICHELE DURGIN

SWAMPSCOTT Being an undocumented immigrant is not a criminal offense, but rather an administrative violation and should be treated as such.

Dr. Alexandra Pineros Shields, the guest speaker at Thursday night’s Sanctuary Movement event at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Greater Lynn in Swampscott, delivered those words to an audience of about 125 at the event sponsored by the Essex County Community Organization (ECCO).

The Sanctuary Movement, which began in the 1980s, is a religious and political campaign that addresses the concerns of undocumented immigrants in the United States. Members of the movement promise to protect immigrant families who face discrimination and deportation issues. Many faith-based organizations are part of the movement.

Dr. Victoria Weinstein, pastor of the church, delivered the opening reflection on the eve of the presidential inauguration, saying, “We’re not here to debate, but rather to love our neighbors and protect the most vulnerable among us.”

Shields delivered a 45-minute presentation on the causes of migration, along with policy changes through the years.

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Lynn Councilor-At-Large Brian La Pierre said he thought the meeting was important and the discussion needs to continue.

“As a teacher, leader and elected official in Lynn, I see the connection between educational justice and racial justice, and now, more than ever, we need to come together as one community and face the issue of undocumented immigrants,” he said. “We must have a school system that serves as a safe center of support and learning for all those we serve in the community.”

With the incoming administration’s campaign promises of building walls and deporting undocumented immigrants still fresh in people’s minds, the evening’s agenda also included testimonies on creating sanctuaries for immigrants, immigration policy analysis and sanctuary cities and congregations. Participants were invited to go online at sanctuarynotdeportation.org to support the movement.

Lisa Day-Copeland, 57, of Gloucester was in the audience. “I am here because I believe it’s important to offer help and protection to the vulnerable members of society and I would like to see Gloucester become a sanctuary city,” she said.  

Jenney Harkness, 61, of Essex, added, “I grew up in the inner city and I am concerned about the homelessness issue. I truly fear for immigrants, both documented and undocumented, who aren’t welcomed into our cities and towns.”

Matias Gonzalez Regalado, 67

LYNN — Rev. Dr. Matias Gonzalez Regalado, age 67, of Lynn, passed away peacefully on Friday, Jan. 6, 2017, at Beverly Hospital, with his family by his bedside.

He was born on Feb. 28, 1949, in San Francisco de Macoris, DR, the son of the late Manuel and Marcela (Regalado) Gonzalez.

Dr. Matis Gonzalez Regalado was the senior pastor at Congregacion Candelero de Dios in Lynn for more than 40 years. As a minister of the Gospel, Dr. Matias exemplified Christian values and faith. His pastoral leadership demonstrated love, care and restoration to everyone who was in need. He always had something special to say and went above and beyond to extend a helping hand. As an ordained minister for the Free Methodist Church, his leadership was profound. He served in many leadership capacities, including assistant superintendent and district leader of New England for many years. He established a strong organization among Hispanic ministers in the region. He taught and prepared many pastors in leadership and paved the way for their ordination. Many of those individuals are now serving in various ministry capacities. He has been an influential leader within the Free Methodist Church USA, while serving as president of the Latin Network (La Red Latina), just retiring in September 2016. Dr. Matias published the book, La divinidad de Jesus.

He also served on many boards and community organizations, including COPAHNI (Confraternidad de Pastores Hispanos de Nueva Inglaterra), UMIHNS (Unidad Ministerial Hispana del North Shore), ECCO (Essex County Community Organization) in Lynn and was actively involved with the City of Lynn (city council, Lynn Police Department, school board) and its surrounding areas.

Dr. Matias will be dearly missed by the countless people he has greatly touched. His legacy will live on in the many he ministered to. Even to his last breath, he proclaimed the hope that we have in Jesus, and he now rests in the arms of the One who brought him hope.

He is survived by his wife, Lourdes (Mendez) Gonzalez of Lynn; his daughter, Raisa Fabre and her husband Lewin of Dracut; his son, Joel Gonzalez of Lynn; his siblings, Melba, Ramona and Jedalia Gonzalez of Lawrence, Aura Gonzales of Florida, Elijah Gonzales and wife Olga of Lawrence, Nicolas Gonzalez and wife Noris of Lawrence and Fidel Gonzales of Lawrence. His grandchildren, Elise Gonzalez, Samantha Fabre, Jeremy Fabre and Justin Fabre, as well as many beloved nieces and nephews also survive him.

Service information: Calling hours are Friday, Jan. 13, 2017 from 3-9 p.m. at Congregacion Candelero de Dios, 216 Lynnfield St., Lynn, MA 01904.  There will be Celebration of Life services at 5 and 7 p.m. Funeral services will be held on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017 from 10-11 a.m. at the church. A graveside service will follow in Pine Grove Cemetery on Boston Street in Lynn at 11:30 a.m. Donations may be made to Candelero de Dios General Fund, 216 Lynnfield St., Lynn, MA 01904. Flowers should be sent directly to the church. Arrangements are entrusted to CUFFE-McGINN Funeral Home, 157 Maple St. in Lynn. Please visit Cuffemcginn.com to sign the online guestbook.

Funding in the works for manufacturing jobs

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — Thirty prospective machinists will have their tuition paid at the E-Team program, an adult machinist training project  housed at Lynn Vocational Technical Institute. The program won more than $145,000 in grants from the Advanced Manufacturing Training Program that will pay tuition for 30 students, part of a $1.5 million state grant.

“People assume manufacturing is dead,” said Tony Dunn, program director and instructor. “But it’s coming back and the only thing that’s stopping it is the lack of skilled machinists to do the work. Right now, (General Electric) is trying to hire and they can’t find qualified candidates.”

The training grants from the administration of Gov. Charlie Baker are designed to equip the unemployed and underemployed with the skills to enter the advanced manufacturing field. Training emphasizes outreach to veterans, groups that experience chronically higher rates of unemployment and groups that are historically underrepresented in the manufacturing sector.

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The Advanced Manufacturing Training Program provides more than 30 weeks of training to unemployed and underemployed individuals, including veterans, minorities and women, and supports the workforce needs of the commonwealth’s manufacturing cluster.

The E-Team was founded by a coalition that includes Essex County Community Organization, IUE-CWA Local 201 and the Boston Tooling & Machining Association who saw the need for manufacturing training.

Since its inception 20 years ago, they have graduated nearly 500 students, many of whom have gone on to work at GE Aviation in Lynn.

The new grant round builds on $12.4 million in Workforce Skills Capital grants awarded this year. In August, Baker signed legislation that authorizes the Executive Office of Education to commit up to $45 million in workforce skills capital matching grants.

The program seeks to increase the capacity and quality of vocational training and education by providing funds to eligible schools for the purchase and installation of vocational-technical equipment. The grants will provide matching funds to allow schools to invest in vocational technical training equipment and meet employer hiring demands by modernizing and expanding vocational technical program capacity, creating new training programs that respond to industry needs and increasing the availability of training equipment to mid-career learners.

“We continue to make the commonwealth’s manufacturing base more competitive by building a highly-skilled workforce for employers so they can grow their businesses and support the economy,” Baker said in a statement. “These workforce development grant programs will equip students and workers in Massachusetts with the skills they need to connect with middle-class career pathways in key industries, including advanced manufacturing.”


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

GE bringing good things to Lynn

There’s cause for celebration with the news General Electric plans to hire up to 200 new workers through next spring. The hiring commitment makes good on a negotiated agreement between River Works union representatives and the company on new hires and on replacing retirees with new workers.

GE’s sprawling West Lynn factory complex looms large in the memories of Lynn residents old enough to recall when the aviation engine manufacturer poured thousands of workers onto city streets at the end of each work shift and represented generations-worth of employment for local families.

The plant’s profound influence over the local economy can be felt even when GE stops manufacturing on its local property. The former Factory of the Future site is now the future home of a Market Basket store set to open next year. The broad swath of land between the commuter rail tracks and the Lynnway is the proposed home of a residential high-rise complex.

The jobs GE is advertising are the kind many people thought disappeared with the Factory of the Future and the former River Works gear plant. GE is hiring warehouse workers, machinists and manufacturing associates. The starting pay is good and the opportunity for pay raises stretches out over 10 years.

The push to hire machinists dovetails perfectly with the local E-Team machinist training program founded by the Essex County Community Organization and International Union of Electrical Workers Local 201. The two organizations working with trade associations provided training for people interested in learning a skill in high demand.

Machine shops dot northeastern Massachusetts and the trade is working to bring younger skilled employees into an aging workforce. Machinists who graduated from E-Team and work in local shops will probably answer GE’s call for workers and spur the need for E-Team to turn out more graduates.

All of this spells good news for Lynn and the River Works’ future. Skilled trade work offers an opportunity to help hundreds of local families increase their income and move from renting an apartment to owning a home.

GE’s indirect ability to spur development on two former company sites can be matched with innovative ideas proposed by U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton and others to bring new business opportunities to the River Works site.

Biotechnology companies and other emerging businesses attracted to Lynn by lower per square foot lease costs can thrive locally while literally being within view of Boston. GE brought good things to Lynn for decades and its new hiring initiative shows it is committed to continuing that practice.

Lynn forum showcases sheriff candidates

Lynn Police Chief Kevin Coppinger speaks during a forum for Essex County Sheriff candidates as St. Stephen’s Memorial Episcopal Church on Thursday. (Photo by Bob Roche)

By Leah Dearborn

LYNN — A packed room welcomed some fiery banter between Essex County Sheriff candidates at St. Stephen’s Memorial Episcopal Church on Thursday night.

The Essex County Community Organization (ECCO) and Neighbor to Neighbor (N2N) hosted a forum at the church for candidates to answer questions posed by community leaders.

The participating candidates included Mark Archer and Kevin Leach, both running as Independent candidates; Lynn Police Chief Kevin Coppinger, winner of the September Democratic primary, and Republican primary winner Anne Manning-Martin.

Discussions on high-tension issues related to race and transparency punctuated the forum, including comments on perceived lack of reporting of ethnicity statistics in the county jail system.

Coppinger emphasized creating connections between jail and outside community programs to prevent recidivism while Manning-Martin and Leach spoke about the importance of plans that are tailored to the individual inmate.

When asked about diversifying the police force based on race, gender and language, Archer spoke to the difficulties he has experienced as an African American in law enforcement, receiving applause from the audience.

“It’s wrong,” said Archer about the lack of diversity in criminal justice. “It’s wrong and I’m going to change it in a nondiscriminatory way.”

Manning-Martin brought up the importance of data-driven hiring to ensure a balance in staffing based on community demographics. The career state corrections professional focused on statistics and analysis in law enforcement multiple times over the course of the night.  

Coppinger said that physical contact can create a safety issue by opening a window for smuggling.

“The problem with physical contact is contraband swaps,” said Coppinger. “It could be as simple as sharing a kiss with a loved one and then drugs get in.”    

Other questions concerned how the candidates would improve re-entry programs to prevent recidivism, deal with the privatization of inmate medical services in prisons and handle policies on physical contact between inmates and visitors.

Leach caused a stir in the crowd when he said that in the state of Massachusetts, it is difficult to become incarcerated. He said that inmates should earn physical contact with visitors through good behavior.

Archer rebuffed this statement, saying, “sometimes you just have to look the wrong way” to be incarcerated.  

The race to replace retiring Sheriff Frank Cousins will end when voters go to the polls on Nov. 8.

Sheriff hopefuls spar in Lynn

PHOTO BY PAULA MULLER
Republican sheriff candidate Anne Manning-Martin answers questions from the audience at St. Stephen’s Church on Thursday.

BY ADAM SWIFT

LYNN — Candidates hoping to replace Essex County Sheriff Frank Cousins touted their plans to reduce recidivism and improve prison conditions on Thursday night.

Three Republicans and one independent candidate attended a forum at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church hosted by the Essex County Community Organization and Neighbor to Neighbor.

“Contact with the family is the most important element in reducing recidivism and keeping families intact,” said Anne Manning-Martin, a Peabody city councilor and a deputy superintendent for the Department of Corrections.

Manning-Martin said female prisoners are especially vulnerable to being separated from their families since the majority are either detained or held while awaiting trial in Framingham.

“They do not belong there,” she said. “They need to be closer to their families and they should be doing misdemeanor time in Essex County.”

Her top priority if elected is to make sure that women who are doing time or awaiting bail are incarcerated in the same county in which they and their families live, she said.

James Jajuga Jr., a Methuen police lieutenant and attorney, said keeping families together is important. But he said that issues in jails and prisons are a microcosm of the outside world and that issues related to the breakdown of families must be addressed.

Craig Lane, a sergeant in the sheriff’s department, said while there is no facility for sentenced female prisoners in Essex County, the region does have a detox center for women.

“At least if we can keep the substance abuse (cases) out of Framingham, it’s a step in the right direction,” he said.

Mark Archer, an attorney and former state trooper, said the prison population, especially for women, can be reduced by expanding the electronic bracelet monitoring program.

All of the candidates also spoke of the need to fix substance abuse and mental health problems by working with community groups to help people before they need to be locked up.

Republican candidates who did not attend Thursday night’s forum included Kenneth Berg, a law enforcement officer from Danvers, and Jeffrey Gallo, a lieutenant in the Essex County Sheriff’s Department.

The six Democratic candidates on the ballot include William Castro of Methuen, a sergeant in the Essex County Sheriff’s Department; Lynn Police Chief Kevin Coppinger; Michael Marks of Lynn, Middleton Jail superintendent; Edward J. O’Reilly of Wenham, a defense attorney and former firefighter; retired Middleton Jail deputy superintendent Jerry Robito; and Paul Russell Jr. of Andover, a former Drug Enforcement Administration agent.

The state primaries will be held on Thursday, Sept. 8.

The Republican and Democratic nominees will be joined on the Tuesday, Nov. 8 general election ballot by Archer, who is running as an independent, and unenrolled candidate Kevin Leach of Manchester-by-the-Sea.

Cousins decided not to run for re-election this year after two decades on the job.

A forum for Democratic candidates will be held next Thursday night.


Adam Swift can be reached at aswift@itemlive.com.

Lending perspective to bias in Lynn

PHOTO BY PAULA MULLER
Lynn Police Chief Kevin Coppinger speaks during the Implicit Bias Training program, while Rev. Adrienne Berry-Burton of the Zion Baptist Church listens.

BY DILLON DURST

LYNN — Rachel Godsil says everyone has a bias, whether they’re aware of it or not.

“If you have a brain, you have a bias,” she said.

The director of research at Perception Institute, a coalition of scientists that uses research to reduce discrimination, spoke at Wednesday’s meeting between Lynn Police and the Essex County Community Organization (ECCO), a network of North Shore faith-based groups.

The gathering centered around the concept of implicit bias, or the unconscious brain’s prejudices.

Godsil, who’s also a professor at Seton Hall University School of Law in New Jersey, said the unconscious mind is more powerful than the conscious, and can process a greater amount of information. Since people are oblivious to this sector of the brain, Godsil said, they are unaware of their implicit biases.

She had the 84-person crowd participate in exercises that allowed them to experience their unconscious mind.

“Once you become aware of your bias, you’re able to slow down and correct it,” said Rev. Adrienne Berry-Burton of Lynn’s Zion Baptist Church.

“Today allowed us to open up to understanding we do have biases whether we know it or not,” added Diana Cunningham, of Bethel AME Church.

While Chief Kevin Coppinger asked members of the black community to share their issues and concerns, it’s easier said than done.

Alexandra Piñeros Shields, ECCO executive director, said 10 young black men from Raw Art Works said during Wednesday’s meeting that they’re afraid to talk to police.

“They’re taught that they’re in danger when they’re near police,” she said. “That’s important for police officers to know.”

Coppinger recalled that at an April meeting between Lynn Police and ECCO at Sacred Heart Church both sides were able to “just sit and talk” and make progress toward achieving a mutual trust. The longtime law enforcement official said members of the city’s black community were able to see officers as human beings, rather than just “big guys with guns.”

“It shouldn’t stop here,” Coppinger said of Wednesday’s progress. “I think we have amazing potential to be a model community.”


Dillon Durst can be reached at ddurst@itemlive.com.

Lynn gathers to heal and unify

PHOTO BY BOB ROCHE
Seven-year-old Ayanna Lowe pours water into the tree of life at Bethel AME Church on Tuesday night.

BY BRIDGET TURCOTTE

LYNN — The city is trying to bridge the divide between the community and the police through conversation.

The Essex County Community Organization (ECCO) held a community vigil and training at Bethel AME Church Tuesday night. Religious leaders, residents, police officers and children came together to discuss what needs to be done to end bias-related violence.

ECCO is an interfaith network of congregations throughout the county with a mission to work for racial justice. The group has been working for about a year.

“We work together and build trust together,” said Alexandra Pineros Shields, director. “As we have met more with police, we have learned about the challenges police face. We’ve learned how the community feels about issues of racial injustice. The dialogue has helped a lot.”

The gathering was held in the wake of last week’s fatal shootings of two black men in St. Paul and Baton Rouge, reportedly resulting from excessive police force, and the following murder of five police officers during a protest.

It was attended by people of different faiths, ethnicities, races and genders. Religious leaders led the discussion, including Rev. Andre Bennett of Zion Baptist Church, Rev. Jane Gould of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church and Diana Cunningham from Bethel AME. Others, including those from other communities, participated in readings.

Deputy Leonard Desmarais of the Lynn Police Department participated in the ceremony. He said it’s important for police to have positive contact with the community because residents are often only exposed to negative contact, when police are called to make an arrest or take other action.

“When police pull up, sometimes people are expecting what they see or read about on social media and in the movies,” he said. “But, we’re there to see what is actually presented to us and what’s really going on. We need to slow things down and find out what is happening to respond appropriately.”

Of the six Lynn officers who attended the ceremony, Desmarais said they probably knew all of the people from Lynn.

“The large majority of our department is made up of Lynn kids,” he said. “We do know a lot of the community, but positive contact is important. People do want to know the police. If there’s a situation and we already know the person and they already know us, it’s better all around.”

The sanctuary was packed with attendees who stood in line to get inside. They participated in an exercise during which they talked to a stranger with a different background about what action the community needs to take and how they can contribute.

The participants wrote their answers on a sticky note and placed it on a wooden Tree of Life sign created by RAW Art Works.

Roy Rhodes, who has been attending the church for 40 years, said he has never seen it so full for a community event.

Diane Smith of Lynn said she felt it was important to attend the vigil to find a way to increase protection for all people, no matter his or her race.

“Everyone is from different cultures, trying to learn about each other,” Smith said. “It has been awesome to see everybody come together and start to show love. As one community, we should all try to help each other and support each other.”

Vanessa Charles of Lynn said she wants to see the “race game” come to an end and instead for everyone to try to figure out why something has happened.

“At the end of the day, people are more concerned with having their child come back home,” she said.

Charles said she believes that if everyone does their part, it will be a safer world.

“You’re supposed to put your hands on the wheel when you’re pulled over,” she said. “If cops have any issues, they should have somebody to talk to about them. They have stressful jobs and a lot of police come from military backgrounds.”

Margaret Eckman, who lives in Swampscott, said she was excited to hear so many different opinions.

“We’re talking instead of fighting,” Eckman said. “I love that we have been asked to find someone we don’t know. I want to hear what other people have to say and learn from it.”

The vigil was followed by a training provided by Rachel Godsil, a professor at Seton Hall University School of Law. She talked about understanding the origins and effects of implicit bias to learn how to eliminate it.

“We do what we are used to doing, even if our conscious mind knows it’s wrong,” Godsil said.


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte.

LPD and ECCO echo community solidarity

ITEM FILE PHOTO
Lynn Police Chief Kevin Coppinger.

BY DILLON DURST

LYNN — Following the shooting deaths of black men by police in Minnesota and Louisiana, a network of North Shore faith-based groups will hold a vigil tonight for the victims.

The event will be held at the Bethel AME Church on Silsbee Street from 6-9 p.m. tonight. The Essex County Community Organization (ECCO) and Lynn Police will also participate in training to promote trust between police and the black and Latino communities, tomorrow from 10 a.m. to noon at the Lynn Police headquarters.

Participants will meet after the training to discuss a plan of action.

“We are grateful to the Lynn Police Department for working with us to prevent this kind of tragedy from happening closer to home,” said the Rev. Andre Bennett, of Zion Baptist Church, in a statement.

Lynn Police Chief Kevin Coppinger said the department has been working with ECCO for about a year to improve the relationship between the department and the city’s African-American community.

“Ever since Ferguson, we’ve really ramped up our outreach efforts,” he said.

The two parties have met several times throughout the year, Coppinger said. He added that every meeting has “progressed pretty well.”  

In the days following the shootings, Bennett said he received calls from parents and youth expressing anger, sadness and fear.

“One young boy asked me, ‘Does just being black make me a criminal?’” Bennett said. “What do I tell the youth at Zion Baptist? How do I comfort them, be honest with them and restore their hope in a system that is clearly uneven?”

Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old black man, was shot and killed by police officers outside a Baton Rouge, La., convenience store on July 5. A day later, police shot and killed 32-year-old Philando Castile during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Minn.

The next night, five Dallas police officers were gunned down during a protest of the fatal shootings.

Micah Johnson, a 25-year-old black man who was later identified as the shooter, was killed in a standoff with Dallas police.

“We acknowledge the senseless loss of their lives, and pray for them and their families,” Bennett said of the five slain officers. “As we continue our call for an equitable criminal justice system, we affirm our belief that transformation must happen non-violently. As Mahatma Ghandi said, ‘An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind.’”


Dillon Durst can be reached at ddurst@itemlive.com.

Workers have their May Day

PHOTO BY PAULA MULLER
Protesters begin to congregate at the Corner of Greene Street and Union Street in Lynn for the International Workers May Day March.

By GAYLA CAWLEY

LYNN — More than 100 protesters took to the streets of Lynn on Sunday to support worldwide International Workers May Day.

The peaceful group marched a mile from the intersection of Union and Green streets to Lynn Commons, ending with a short rally.

Jack Damas, 14, of Lynn, said while his family is from Haiti, he was born in the U.S. May Day is his first protest and he came with friends.

“I want everyone to be equal and for everyone to have fair rights,” he said.

David Gass, director of the Highlands Coalition, a group that endorsed the event, said the marchers included immigrants and-low income workers. He said the goal of the march is make people aware of the inequality and discrimination immigrants face.

Gass, 71, of Lynn, said many people in the city spend about half of their income on rent. One of the purposes of the rally was to lobby for a $15 an hour minimum wage, which, he said, would help people keep pace with the cost of living.

Angela Arce, vice-president of the Essex County Community Organization (ECCO), said through an interpreter that she immigrated from Paraguay 17 years ago. The 42-year-old Salem resident said she came in search of opportunities and has two children, both U.S. citizens.

“I started a company,” she said through an interpreter. “We employ people. We’re fighting so immigrants can live and work in better conditions for just wages and so that undocumented immigrants can get drivers licenses so that everybody can drive in safety.”

Alexandra Pineros-Shields, ECCO’s executive director, said she’s from Spain, but has been in the U.S. for 47 years. The 52-year-old Salem resident said she came over when she was 4, after her parents decided to move.

Shields said ECCO, a network of congregations on the North Shore, is concerned about the rights of workers, particularly immigrants.

“All of the fights we fought for over the last century are slowly slipping away,” she said. “Our faith traditions tell us that everyone has dignity.”

Mother and daughter Mary Rosales, 50, and Tatiana Iraheta, 13, of Lynn, are facing foreclosure. Rosales is from El Salvador and came to the U.S. to escape the hardships faced during the country’s civil war. She said one of her brothers was killed. The two are working with Lynn United for Change to keep their home.

“It’s a human right to have a roof over your head,” Rosales said.

Jeff Crosby, president of the North Shore Labor Council and executive director of New Lynn Coalition, said support for workers is needed.

“This is a time when they’re trying to tear down the last few good jobs in America,” Crosby said. “That’s why we stopped at the Verizon offices to support their strike. We need union rights for immigrant workers.”

The local march, an annual event for about a decade, was organized by the ECCO, Lynn United for Change, Neighbor to Neighbor, New Lynn Coalition and Worker’s Center of Lynn.


Gayla Cawley can be reached at gcawley@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley