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Following Claims Of Racism, Sexual Assault, Residents Plan March To Williamstown Police Department

A uniformed police officer and a man in a button down shirt and khakis stand outside a blue building with white detailing
Josh Landes
Williamstown Police Chief Kyle Johnson and Town Manager Jason Hoch stand outside the new police station in 2019.

After a lawsuit alleging racism and sexual assault in the Williamstown, Massachusetts police department was filed in federal court last week, a protest march is planned for Friday evening.

Sergeant Scott McGowan’s suit came just days before Williamstown voted to adopt a pledge to make the town as equitable and inclusive as possible. Jessica Dils says the march is a statement about accountability in the Berkshire community of around 7,500.

“The federal lawsuit is against both the police chief, the town manager, and the town itself," she told WAMC. "And so as residents of the town, we feel as though it’s actually directed toward us. And so we as citizens want to make sure the message is loud and clear that anything less than a safe and secure department is not acceptable.”

Town Manager Jason Hoch and Police Chief Kyle Johnson have turned down opportunities to comment on the lawsuit. Williams College President Maud Mandel joined calls for an independent investigation of the claims this week.

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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