Acting Mayor Of Holyoke, Mass., Rescinds Executive Order On Racism

May 28, 2021

Terry Murphy, the acting mayor of Holyoke, Massachusetts, is taking heat after he canceled an executive order declaring racism and police violence as public health concerns.

Murphy rescinded the order by his predecessor, Alex Morse, which requested city agencies direct resources to dismantle systemic racism.

After facing criticism this week, Murphy apologized for offending anyone, but said Morse's decree was an ineffective solution.

"I certainly do not think racism is a small problem," Murphy said in a video on Holyoke Media. "But I also think the solution is one-on-one day-to-day respect and dignity, and trying to figure out how do we resolve things."

City Councilor Rebecca Lisi, who is a candidate for mayor, said Murphy was wrong.

"This is not something that can be overcome with people being nicer to one and other," she said. "An executive order is exactly the kind of policy interventions that we need to start building and working towards."

Lisi also took Murphy to task for rescinding the order a day after the one-year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis.

"I think it shows how completely unaware Mayor Murphy was of the the optics," she said.

The original executive order by former Mayor Morse also called for the establishment of a citizen police advisory committee. According to reporting by the Daily Hampshire Gazette, the committee ran into problems, including a lack of resources. 

Murphy, who does not plan to campaign for a full term, said one part of the order will continue. That's the establishment of Juneteenth as a paid holiday for city workers.