return to the homepageStatement on SJC's Gerald Alston Decision
This week, the highest court in Massachusetts—the Supreme Judicial Court, or SJC—ruled that the Town of Brookline had illegally fired Brookline firefighter Gerald Alston after he faced a series of racist and retaliatory statements and actions by members of our Town staff and Select Board.
The SJC’s actions illustrate how a neutral governmental body can promote equity and justice. After reaching down to elevate Mr. Alston’s case from a lower court, the SJC ensured all interested parties had a full and fair chance to be heard—and could speak honestly about these difficult and important issues. The Court’s legally well-founded decision was also morally and ethically correct, clearly denouncing racism as intolerable.
As this decision makes clear, we have a lot of work to do to address racism here in Brookline. We can be fair and impartial while also promoting inclusion and transparency. The Moderator can ensure Town Meeting is a forum where underrepresented viewpoints and overlooked issues of equity and justice are elevated and given the attention they have long been due.
To begin, we must discuss racism openly and honestly in Town Meeting debate. Our boards and committees, including those appointed by the Moderator, must include members who can speak to their lived experience. We must seek out the voices of our fellow Brookline residents who so often go unheard in Town government. If you give me the honor of serving as Brookline’s Moderator, this will be my charge.
This week, Gerald Alston got some long-awaited justice. And the rest of us were challenged to do better. Let’s get to it.