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North Adams Councilors Move To Censure Moulton Following Comments on BLM, COVID

The seal of the the city of North Adams, Massachusetts
North Adams

Three North Adams, Massachusetts city councilors will present a motion to censure a colleague after he described Black Lives Matter as a terrorist organization and diminished the threat of COVID-19 last week.

The censure will be brought forward at Tuesday’s virtual meeting by council president Paul Hopkins, Council Vice President Jason LaForest, and councilor Benjamin Lamb. LaForest says Robert Moulton’s “divisive, inflammatory” statements made on his public access TV show could make the city liable on many different levels.

“The law does not permit us to do anything more than reprimand him, as it were, but these are important concerns  both for the North Adams community and the greater good of human life, really,” LaForest told WAMC.

The censure also calls on Moulton to correct his misrepresentations on the danger of COVID-19, and to apologize to the city’s African American community, first responders, and politicians on the state and local level.

A representative of the local Black Lives Matter group has called for Moulton to resign, and plans to stage a protest at city hall before the meeting.

Here is the full text of the censure resolution:


Whereas the North Adams City Council; the residents of the City of North Adams, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the United States of America; and all people of good will; have endeavored to mend the historic prejudices and systemic injustices suffered by African Americans, and all who have been diminished and marginalized on the basis of their mental health, age, race, national origin, religious beliefs, gender, gender identity, sexual identity, disability, veteran status, or other differential characteristic; in recognizing diversity, equity, and inclusion, as common rights, and working to codify those rights in the Rule of Law;

Whereas the residents of the City of North Adams, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the United States of America, continue to suffer through the COVID-19 pandemic in unity with the global community—with untold casualties in our community and around the world, and with devastating effects on the vitality of our economy and way of life, that will be felt for generations;

Whereas in Two Thousand Nineteen, Robert R. Moulton, Jr., was duly elected to the North Adams City Council, and in Two Thousand Twenty, swore an oath to discharge faithfully the duties of that office of City Councilor according to the Ordinances and Charter of the City of North Adams, the General Laws and Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the Laws and Constitution of the United States;

Whereas the honorable members of the North Adams City Council are obligated under reasonable conscience and the laws of the Commonwealth to show undivided loyalty as public servants and employees of the City of North Adams, and to protect the city and its residents from liability, and those who wish to do us harm;

Whereas on July twenty-first, Councilor Moulton appeared on his long-standing local public access television program Let’s Talk About It;

Whereas Councilor Moulton made repugnant personal statements minimizing the work of civil rights reflected in the Black Lives Matter movement, and the work of this body, our city, commonwealth, and nation, in creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive society, as “this month’s flavor,” and by misrepresenting all supporters of Black Lives Matter as “moronic” and terrorists who want to get rid of the family;

Whereas Councilor Moulton minimized inequalities in education, home ownership, employment, wealth, and leadership, rooted in our country’s history of slavery and systemic racism;

Whereas Councilor Moulton suggested individuals striving to do the work of racial equality generated the recent economic recession for political manipulation, rather than appropriately attributing it to the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing safety guidelines;

Whereas Councilor Moulton declared the loss of human life as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic as “minuscule” and “overblown,” and attributed the loss of life to “China and those places;”

Whereas Councilor Moulton in his comments mislead the people and set an example dangerous to the public safety by dismissing COVID testing, evidence-based use of personal protective equipment, mocking evidence-based social distancing practices, and encouraging the commingling of positive cases in his home and business;

Whereas Councilor Moulton undermined evidence- and science-based guidelines and the Rule of Law in our city and commonwealth, mocking “politicians” including the Mayor of North Adams, and the Governor of Massachusetts; and labeling the Governor of New York a “killer;”

Whereas Councilor Moulton maligned his fellow councilors, accusing the administration and council of financial impropriety;

Whereas Councilor Moulton discussed personnel matters privy to the executive office publicly, commenting on the professional performance and personal integrity of a city employee—protected by three class distinctions, thereby creating liability for the City of North Adams—by name on live television;

Whereas Councilor Moulton impugned the professional performance and personal integrity of the police officers, firefighters, and educators, of the City of North Adams, and their unions, during a period in which all three unions are in the midst of collective bargaining with the city;

Whereas Councilor Moulton mocked the role of mental health support and crisis de-escalation by first responders; and,

Whereas the aforementioned comments and conduct of Councilor Robert R. Moulton, Jr., are found to be false, hateful, discriminatory, and racist, by many in our community and a majority of this Council: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the North Adams City Council—

(1) Reprimands and Censures Councilor Robert R. Moulton, Jr., for his comments of 21 July 2020, as unbecoming the dignity of our honorable office and inconsistent with the collegial efforts of this body’s efforts in matters of diversity, equity and inclusion; insensitive and dangerous to the people; and imposing the possibility of liability on the City of North Adams in matters of administration, personnel, and contractual obligations;

(2) Calls on Councilor Moulton to correct his misrepresentations of medical and scientific fact as it pertains to the safety and well-being of our residents during the COVID pandemic; and

(3) Calls on Councilor Moulton to apologize to the African American community and their allies; his fellow councilors; the Mayor of the City of North Adams, the Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the Governor of the State New York; the police officers, firefighters, and educators of North Adams, and their respective unions; Director of Tourism Suzy Helme; the non-contractual employees of the City of North Adams; and the residents of the City of North Adams whose trust we hold.

In Council Chambers, Tuesday, July twenty-eighth, Two thousand twenty.

Josh Landes has been WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief since February 2018, following stints at WBGO Newark and WFMU East Orange. A passionate advocate for Western Massachusetts, Landes was raised in Pittsfield and attended Hampshire College in Amherst, receiving his bachelor's in Ethnomusicology and Radio Production. His free time is spent with his cat Harry, experimental electronic music, and exploring the woods.
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