AN OPEN LETTER TO MAYOR ROXANN WEDEGARTNER
From the Coalition for Racial Justice
May 25, 2022
Dear Mayor Wedegartner,
We were surprised to read your public comments in the Greenfield Recorder on May 6, in which you
denied the validity of a legal ruling that found racial discrimination had taken place within the
Greenfield Police Department. You were quoted as saying, “I’m confident that at the end of the
process, Chief Haigh will be completely exonerated,” while also noting that you will need to “sit a
little while with the facts.” We would like to make you aware of how the facts look from our
perspective as a coalition that is actively working to dismantle racism.
Your public statements in opposition to the jury’s ruling came at a time when many racial justice
activists in Greenfield were finding hope in the message the verdict sent. The verdict seemed to say
there is no place for racial discrimination in the City of Greenfield, and that it is possible to hold even
the most powerful city institutions accountable to that ideal. Unfortunately, the sentiment you
expressed contradicts that sense of progress. Moving forward, we hope to see greater transparency,
accountability, and opportunities for public input in your treatment of issues pertaining to racial justice
in our community—including this case.
As mayor, your statement of confidence that Chief Haigh will be “completely exonerated” undermines
the validity of the racial discrimination claim, the jury’s ruling, and the progress of work against
racism in our community. You have sent a message to constituents who experience discrimination that
even if a jury believes them, you and other people in power might continue to invalidate and act
against their claim. To those who might perpetrate discrimination, whether maliciously or
unconsciously, you have offered the possibility of your office’s support. We hope it is obvious, as we
commemorate the two-year anniversary of George Floyd’s murder, that the lives of people of color are
in danger when there is even tacit support for a culture of racism in police departments.
A slightly closer look at this particular case makes it appear obvious that racism has been a problem in
the Greenfield Police Department for some time. According, again, to the Recorder, one of the key
officers named in the recent discrimination case (Daniel McCarthy) had in 2015 come under public
scrutiny for choosing to display the Confederate flag at his home, which made an interracial family in
his neighborhood feel understandably unsafe. Why would the mayor of the City of Greenfield make
public statements that indicate greater loyalty to this white officer and his white chief than to a Black
colleague who has proven in court that discrimination took place?
Over the past two years, we have worked as a diverse group of Franklin County and North Quabbin
organizations and businesses under the common goal of dismantling racism in our community. We
work to counter the ways in which false beliefs about white supremacy are embedded in our
institutions and community life, and to make our communities truly welcoming and supportive of
people of color. Most of the time, we see that racism shows up in ways that are not provable in court.
When it does, as in this case, we assume we are seeing just the tip of an iceberg—and that a more
insidious or unconscious comfort with white supremacy, paired with negative or dismissive beliefs
about people of color, lurk beneath the surface.
We hope that you will reflect on your role in setting the tone for the city’s approach to racial justice.
We believe this could be a learning experience for all involved: the beginning of a more thorough look
at how we can work together to dismantle racism and make the region more inclusive and safer for
The organizations within our coalition see the office of the mayor as an important partner in improving
the safety, health, and vitality of Franklin County communities. However, this recent series of events
has jeopardized our sense of trust. By writing this letter, we hope to open up a conversation where we
can learn together, and assess the possibility of future collaboration toward a truly inclusive and safe
county for everyone.
If you are willing to think about how to use this moment to create real progress toward dismantling
racism, we are ready to work and learn with you.
Kaydance Scotto, Jenny Bender, Katri Schroeder and Juan Carlos Aguilar
On behalf of the Coalition for Racial Justice
Coalition for Racial Justice member organizations include:
Center for Community Resilience after Trauma
Communities That Care Coalition
Deerfield Inclusion Group
Franklin County Community Development Corporation
Franklin Land Trust
Hilltown Youth Performing Arts Program
Montague Catholic Social Ministries
Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust
Pioneer Valley Workers Center
Racial Justice Rising
Seeds of Solidarity
Social Justice Committee of All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church of Greenfield
Stone Soup Café
Sunderland Human Rights Commission Working Group
Traprock Center for Peace and Justice