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Massachusetts Town Announces ‘Diversity and Inclusion’ Division

July 4, 2020

While some Massachusetts towns are hiring diversity czars, the town of Andover plans to create an entire division of town government “that will focus on diversity and inclusion,” the town manager said.

Andrew P. Flanagan, the Andover town manager, said “systemic racism … exists in our community” and that he wants to come up with ways “to make racial equity and inclusion a core function of municipal government,” according to a written statement dated Monday, June 29 and reported by the Lawrence Eagle Tribune on Saturday, July 4.

The statement does not describe how the new division of town government will operate, but the proposal is expected to be the subject of a community forum on race and racism later in July.

“The division will provide resources and will take dedicated, thoughtful actions and initiatives to promote goals we aspire to in our town. I look forward to a conversation with residents about how to make this new division the most effective it can be,” Flanagan said in the statement.

The town manager makes reference to “an incident involving race several weeks ago that had no place in Andover.”

On Tuesday, June 2, an off-duty Andover fire lieutenant saw a 19-year-old Dominican woman drive up to her own mailbox and take mail out of it. He followed her, leading to a conversation in which the fire lieutenant suggested the woman may have stolen the mail, according to The Salem News. The woman captured the conversation on her cell phone and put it on social media, according to The Salem News.

The fire lieutenant has been placed on leave.

The town manager suggested that the woman who made the video will decide his fate.

“This incident is in the process of being addressed and our focus remains on what will result in the most acceptable outcome to the resident that was impacted,” Flanagan wrote.

Andover is an affluent town of about 33,000 south of the city of Lawrence. Andover ranked 19th in median household income ($143,292) in Massachusetts between the years 2013 and 2017, according to U.S. Census data analyzed by The Boston Globe.

Hillary Clinton carried Andover in November 2016 by a margin of 57 to 33 percent over Donald Trump. (The margin is close to the statewide result:  Clinton won Massachusetts by 60 to 33 percent.)

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