Belmont City Council unanimously approves civil rights resolution
April 4, 2017
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The crowd buzzed with energy as the council members entered the room.
For some, the regularly scheduled Belmont City Council meeting was just that– a regularly scheduled meeting.
For others, the meeting was a step further in assuring a safe community where everyone is welcome.
On Tuesday, March 29, Belmont’s City Council unanimously approved a resolution regarding civil rights for the city and its people.
The resolution, introduced by Councilwoman Davina Hurt and Mayor Charles Stone, reaffirms the city as a diverse community in which everyone is safe.
More specifically, the resolution opposes deportations based on immigration status, asks for city employees to refrain from investigating citizens’ lives based on possible violations of immigration law, and calls for members of the community to speak out against discrimination.
Close to 25 community members spoke at the meeting, all showing their support and gratitude for the resolution.
One speaker was Sarah Matlin, chair of the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) North Peninsula Chapter. While acknowledging the importance of the resolution’s part in maintaining Belmont’s diverse community, Matlin, along with other speakers from the ACLU, urged the council to also include stronger measures and language.
The ACLU asserted that Belmont should adopt additional protections in order to make all people feel safe, such as requesting warrants from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) before making an arrest, refraining from using city funds to do the federal government’s work, and ensuring citizens would not be subject to religious tests.
“We think the concept of the resolution was a good one, but state inaction is also a problem. The enforcement of immigration laws is not the duty of the Belmont police,” said Matlin.
The resolution was proposed after Hurt witnessed discriminatory messages being placed on an online real estate forum.
“People in the comments talked about other people in the community and how they did not belong here, which worried me and my family. My daughter is worried about what people think of her and her friends, so this resolution is here to say ‘we support everybody in this community.'”
In addition to helping community members living in fear of the Trump administration’s tightened immigration policy, the resolution also aimed to support the Carlmont community after anti-Semitic graffiti on campus worried faculty and families alike.
“The city has a deep symbiotic relationship with the schools in Belmont, and we wanted to show our support for the Carlmont community after these events,” said Stone.
Among the speakers on Tuesday was Sarah Selman, a junior. After witnessing the outpouring of support at the meeting, Selman said she felt safer in the community.
“It’s scary to know that someone is hateful towards you because of your religion, so the resolution was helpful in terms of being reassured of the community’s support,” said Selman.
After the unanimous vote in support of the resolution, many felt proud of Belmont’s accepting nature.
“This resolution is a declaration of what Belmont is all about and that is a diverse and inclusive community,” said Stone.