Race and Discrimination Dominate Heated Public Speaking Session

June 25: The fountain at Everett Square bubbles on a bright summer day. (Photo by Jim Mahoney)

Leader Herald Staff

A succession of speakers praised and denounced embattled Councilor Irene Cardillo, calling attention to what she has done to run the Everett Grace Food Pantry on Church Street.

Many insisted the food pantry is run by Cardillo without racism or attention paid to color, ethnicity or race.

During the second public speaking session which came later, Cardillo was denounced by a host of Black speakers all making the case they were treated like unwanted residents because of the color of their skin.

Cardillo and others connected with the church, primary among them Reverend Mimi and Pastor Paul, are involved in a court battle for control of the church.

Cardillo said she would not speak publicly about that court battle.

Two weeks ago Cardillo was taken to task during the public speaking session during the council meeting.

Cardillo responded Monday night with emotion that she is not a racist, that she is a Christian that she does not discriminate by race or color, religion or nation of origin.

A large number of church members and those who give support to the food pantry packed the council chamber to support Cardillo and highlighted the good deeds done by the pantry with the distribution of food during this era of food insecurity.

Thousands have been served by the food pantry since the COVID crisis caused free food to be distributed to the needy.

Many other speakers packing the chamber Monday night, most of them Black men and women, decried racism, and claimed that their families have experienced racism in Everett and that the folks running the church discriminated against them because of the color of their skin.

“I have lately not wanted to tell anyone I’m from Everett,” said one speaker, who is Black.

“People are tired and disgusted,” the speaker added.

Race was discussed at length by about a half dozen Black residents decrying mistreatment, discrimination and retaliation.

A Black Christian dance team speaker that previously used the church at 50 Church Street claimed they were tossed out of the church by a city councilor.

“The city councilor turned off the heat on us. We had to dance outside on the street. We don’t know why we are so disrespected. We are ask- ing for the resignation of this city councilor who runs the food pantry for treating us like second class citizens.”

Other Black speakers spoke of discrimination.

A Black woman spoke about how her disabled mother had been chastised by truck drivers and officials in charge of the free food operation for parking near to the church and that, in general, they are not treated as human beings because they are Black.

“Where is the integrity of the council? What is happening that we can not be treated and heard with respect?” she asked.

“What makes us get cancelled out? What is it about us? This is more than about parking our car. It is about discrimination,” they all seemed to assert.

John Puopolo called the new city budget “malpractice.”

He asked Council President Hanlon to take appropriate corrective action to tame poor behavior by councilors during the meeting.

He aimed his comments at Councilor Stephanie Martins for her emotional outburst at the previous city council meeting.

“Berating the city clerk. Calling our president John Hanlon “disgraceful” is inappropriate,” Puopolo said.

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