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Latest Human Rights Commission meeting suspended

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  For the second time in less than four months, the Human Rights Commission meeting was gaveled to an early end. On Dec. 3, 2021, the meeting came to a tumultuous end when far-right radio talk show host and self-proclaimed independent candidate for governor Diana Ploss questioned the need for a Human Rights Commission in Revere. During the latest meeting on Thursday, March 10, a small group toting “Abolish the Human Rights Commission” attended the meeting. Revere resident Gina Castiello used a public forum to rehash the events of the December meeting, question the need for the commission, downplay the existence of systemic racism in the city and bemoan the rise of “Critical Race Theory” and the Black Lives Matter movement.

  Castiello said she believes the Human Rights Commission and the City of Revere are the cause of conflict and division in the city. She noted that Lourenço Garcia is a member of the commission and an assistant superintendent for the school system. “You walk into the public schools and there is a big Black Lives Matter banner,” Castiello said. “Critical Race Theory is being pushed and inciting violence in our community, and I’m against it, and so aren’t a lot of other white people. Freedom is being taken away in the city of Revere.”

  Castiello later said that she believes in equality, and that people of other races also support her viewpoint about the Human Rights Commission, but are afraid there will be repercussions if they speak out.

  Several times Human Rights Commission Chair Janine Grillo Marra tried to steer the conversation back to the topic on the agenda, which was a forum with new commission Director Dr. Maritsa Barros about areas of success and areas in need of improvement for human rights in the city.

  Castiello said she is of Italian descent and was among those who were personally offended when the city replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day. “I’m not looking for Italian Heritage Month,” she said. “I’m just looking to grow up in the city in which I grew up and for it to be normal, if you will. I welcome with open arms anyone coming into our community; however, being a long-time, tax paying citizen, I’m not looking for special treatment, and there are too many getting special treatment and think this commission is helping that along the way.”

  Several times, Castiello questioned the need for the commission, and also said the commission violated its own mission when, she said, a member called her “garbage” following the Dec. 3 meeting.

  Grillo Marra noted several times that while she thought Castiello was getting off track, that she thought it was a more even-tempered and less disruptive discussion than in December. Several commission members also thanked Castiello for bringing up her concerns.

  When Castiello returned to the microphone to once again state that she doesn’t believe the city needs the commission, Barros noted that she was at the meeting with a handful of people waving signs calling to abolish the commission. “Let’s make this very clear: The Human Rights Commission has been voted in by your city residents, and your City Council,” Barros said. “We are here to stay; let me just put that out there, point blank, period. I need to see more residents than six folks in here, because when you go into Revere High School and you see a Black Lives Matter banner with a fist hanging and that makes you feel uncomfortable, I want you to think about the people represented by that image – that traditionally and historically we have not.”

  A second resident came to the podium to speak out against Black Lives Matter – and following ongoing comments and conversation with a member of the audience trying to address the commission while not at the podium – Grillo Marra ruled the meeting out of order and suspended it.

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