Hadley resident calls for human rights commission

  • Hadley Town Hall  GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 3/28/2019 10:49:29 AM

HADLEY — A Golden Court resident who alleges she has experienced anti-Semitism and bigotry while living in Hadley is calling on town officials to form a commission to address matters of human rights.

Sue C. Oppenheimer used the public comment portion of the Select Board meeting March 20 to request that a commission, similar to ones already in place in Northampton and Amherst, be created.

During her 15 years living in town, Oppenheimer said she has witnessed bigotry and racism firsthand. 

“I’ve been a victim of extreme anti-Semitism,” Oppenheimer told the board.

Many of the complaints she brought to the Select Board relate to the Hadley Housing Authority, which oversees Golden Court, the state-subsidized housing complex off Middle Street that is home to 40 units for the elderly and disabled. Oppenheimer has been a longtime critic of the housing authority. 

In addition to signs she has displayed on public ways to draw attention to bigotry, Oppenheimer said others are also aware of the problems, observing that students at Hopkins Academy formed a diversity club in 2014 in response to what they claimed were daily expressions of racism.

More recently, Hadley has been dealing with the fallout from comments, made by Planning Board member John Mieczkowski, which many have viewed as racist. During the Planning Board’s March 5 meeting, Mieczkowski referenced the Indian heritage of an applicant and advised a representative of the applicant, who is planning open a repair garage in North Hadley, not to bring camels to the next meeting.

“Hadley has a really big problem, and it’s about time we created a commission against racism and bigotry,” Oppenheimer said.

Because she spoke during public comment, the Select Board could not respond to her request.

Select Board Chairwoman Joyce Chunglo said the matter of a human rights board will be taken under consideration, and that she will speak with Town Administrator David Nixon about how to proceed.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.

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