Consistent with the mission of the Network, the Response and Advocacy Committee responds to instances of bias, discrimination, and prejudice in our community. We provide consultation, support, and advocacy for people who feel they have been targets of or witnesses to such actions as offensive remarks, bullying, harassment, hate crimes, or workplace discrimination. We are keenly aware that in many instances there may be serious distress caused by individuals who may have no intent to cause such distress. One of our goals is to have people understand when they have a negative or offensive impact, regardless of their intent.
We are committed to responding to a wide range of incidents or actions, including those related to race, religion, national origin, socioeconomic status, political views, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, age, and disability.
Most of the concerns brought to us are not about hate crimes. However, because we feel it is important for our community to understand what constitutes a hate crime, we are providing this brief definition. A hate crime in MA General Laws is “any criminal act motivated…..at least in part by racial, religious, ethnic, handicap, gender, gender identity or sexual orientation prejudice, or which otherwise deprives another person of his constitutional rights by threats, intimidation or coercion, or which seeks to interfere with or disrupt a person’s exercise of constitutional rights through harassment or intimidation.” For the complete definition, as well as an accounting of criminal activity that could be considered as a hate crime, refer to MA General Laws: Chapter 22c, Section 32; Chapter 265, Sections 37 and 39, and Chapter 266, Section 127A, and Chapter 272.
The Response and Advocacy Committee considers a wide range of actions and undertakes a response in collaboration with those who contact us. We facilitate conversations between Winchester residents and government/school officials and/or town employees, write Letters to the Editor for our local newspapers, provide information about community resources, give feedback to residents, employers or local businesses who have had a negative impact, initiate public forums, and provide social support and solidarity to those who feel isolated by disrimination. Our action may be public, or kept confidential, depending upon the situation and the wishes of the person(s) bringing a concern to us.