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Year in Review 2020: Social Justice

Eastonites joined with other Americans calling for social change following the horrific death of George Floyd, 46, during a police arrest on May 25 in Minneapolis. Protests in response to Floyd’s brutal death and to police violence against other Black Americans spread quickly across the United States.

More than 300 community members turned out for the June 8 Vigil for George Floyd on the Morehouse Road playing fields. Wearing masks and staying socially distanced, some carried signs while others lit candles. Some just sat and listened. Easton residents Devon Wible, Tara Gottlieb and Sarah Lehberger organized the vigil.

Speakers included First Selectman David Bindelglass, Easton Police Chief Rich Doyle, state Rep. Anne Hughes and residents Lila Estime and Wiley Mullins. Doyle recited some of the message he released condemning the killing of Floyd. Chief State’s Attorney Richard J. Colangelo Jr., who is chairman of the Easton Police Commission, also released a statement decrying the officers’ actions as “reprehensible, heart-wrenching, and criminal.”

Easton celebrated Juneteenth with music, history lessons, and socially distant picnicking. The goal was to bring together the community to meet neighbors and learn about the history and traditions of Juneteenth. 

The Easton, Redding and Region 9 Boards of Education created Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committees, Barlow alumni and students formed Social Justice Clubs, and the Board of Selectmen approved the formation of a Diversity and Inclusion Task Force. The task force experienced some differences of opinion and is a work in progress.

The Easton Public Library stocked books on the topic of racial justice and systemic racism and chose “Small Great Things” by Jodi Picoult as its 2021 One Book/One Town Community Read. The novel, published in 2016, includes themes of race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion.