US Attorney Launches Civil Rights Probe
By Josh Resnek
US Attorney Rachel Rollins notified Mayor Carlo DeMaria that she has launched an investigation into possible civil rights violations in city government here, the Boston Globe reported Friday.
Rollins made it clear she did not want city evidence destroyed or otherwise tampered with and asked for such evidence to be turned over to the government.
Mayor DeMaria said he would comply with her demand.
The probe is the result of months, and years of well-documented racist comments and behavior as reported for years by the Leader Herald and more recently by the Globe.
The racially charged mistreatment and discrimination heaped upon former Councilor at Large Gerly Adrien – some of it latent and much of it overt by the mayor and the city government during her term in office – has been detailed in all its racial ugliness by the Leader Herald.
Adrien is the first Black woman to serve in Everett city government.
The egregiousness of the treatment accorded Adrien by a number of her white colleagues on the council at the time she served was led, in part, by former Councilor Anthony DiPierro.
The mayor said publicly many weeks back that DiPierro deserved another chance.
Rollins didn’t appear to agree with the mayor.
DiPierro was singled out by Rollins in her letter announcing the probe.
“Although your relative on the Everett City Council (Anthony DiPierro) and your Communications Director both resigned
abruptly last week, that only occurred after months of outrage and public criticism by increasingly large numbers of your constituents,” Rollins wrote. “Former City Councilor DiPierro recently posted a message on his social media appearing to urge ‘others who participated in this hurtful, insensitive banter to also do what’s right and step down from their position in city government.’ This statement indicates that more members of Everett’s municipal leadership have engaged in this unacceptable, offensive and possibly discriminatory behavior.”
DiPierro, the mayor’s cousin, resigned two weeks ago after Attorney General Maura Healey’s demand that he do so following revelations in the Leader Herald and the Globe that he had distributed and participated in racially charged Zoom sessions with the mayor’s chief of communications Deanna Deveney and Assistant City Solicitor Keith Slattery.
Those three, all white and all part of the mayor’s inner leadership circle, were shown laughing and joking about “darkies,” as Deveney referred to Black people during the online get together that made wide rounds on the Internet and which was reported by the Leader Herald and the Globe.
Deveney, an attorney, resigned in shame two weeks ago.
“DiPierro’s comments were just one illustration of the noxious culture in Everett City Hall. In March, a leaked recording of a Zoom meeting showed a number of city officials mocking the idea of including Black residents in city events.
“Deveney was captured on that video urging DiPierro to “bring one of your dark friends” to city events, to ward off charges of being racist,” the Boston Globe reported Saturday.
“I don’t have a lot of those, to be clear,” DiPierro replied, in what seems to pass for humor among the power brokers of Everett,” the Globe added.
DiPierro also shared racist memes using the N-word and referred to the whiskey “Johnny Walker Black” as one of the “friends” he was going to bring on vacation, as reported by the Leader Herald.
“It’s about time the government stepped in,” said Councilor at Large Mike Marchese – the only city councilor and member of the city government to ask for DiPierro’s resignation.
“In the absence of no city officials asking these people to resign, the US Attorney’s probe into the racist city government and the mayor’s demented leadership is on the mark. I applaud her willingness to get involved. She will find the mayor believes he cannot be touched by the law.
Let’s see who has more power – the US Attorney or the mayor’s highly paid attorneys,” Marchese added.
“Let’s see whether what is right and just triumphs over what is racist and wrong,” added Marchese.
Rollins letter was stern and to the point.
“The First Amendment protects free speech,” she wrote. “People have the right, however, to be free of racial discrimination and/or sexual harassment by those in city government, whether they are elected, appointed or employed. The employees and residents of Everett deserve no less.”
Rollins directed the city to turn over a host of documents detailing policies as well as all complaints of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation dating back to 2018 — regardless of how the city had resolved them.
Rollins ordered the city to preserve records relevant to the investigation, whether they had been specifically requested or not, and not to alter or destroy computer records.
This comes against a backdrop of council meeting recordings being lost or destroyed – most importantly, the video of the meeting revealing how Adrien’s colleagues ganged up on her and asked her to consider resigning.
However, a copy of that recording of the meeting apparently remains in the hands of several Everett residents. The coverage of that meeting was also chronicled by the Leader Herald.
“We are aware of the inquiry and the city will fully cooperate in this matter,” the mayor apparently told the US Attorney according to the Boston Globe.
The mayor does not communicate with the Leader Herald.
The Globe reported, as the Leader Herald has reported for the past five years that the mayor has been dogged by a persistent series of allegations – of financial impropriety, sexual harassment, retaliation and abuses of power.
The US Attorney has added racism to that growing list of allegations.