A newsletter that appeared unsolicited in Easton mailboxes is coming under fire for its stance against the town‘s and school district’s effort to address systemic racism.
The newsletter, published by the Citizens for Responsible Government, encourages residents to fight against the Easton, Redding and Region 9 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, which it says is “pushing this poisonous ideology closer to our students.”
It also criticized the Board of Selectmen’s attempt last summer to study the link between racism and public health. And a social justice group formed by Joel Barlow High School alumni, students and faculty after the death of George Floyd last summer is also highlighted in the newsletter.
Those who see tackling systemic racism as an important societal responsibility denounced the newsletter’s content on social media. Others penned letters to the Easton Courier.
“As a Latina married to a Black man with two bi-racial children living in Easton for four years now, I’m deeply disturbed and disgusted by the Easton Eye mailer I received today, “ Elle Morris said.
Citizens for Responsible Government’s claims on its Facebook page it is the oldest political action committee in the state with roots as a tax watchdog. The group is funded in part through a Go Fund Me account and runs the website EastonEye.org. It has recently zeroed in on the town’s anti-racism and social justice efforts that began last summer.
Sherry Harris, the president of Citizens for Responsible Government, said she expected some residents to disagree with the newsletter.
“We didn’t invent critical race theory,” Harris said. “We have strong feelings about issues going on in our town, and we put those issues in front of people with quotes from documents.”
The group collected donations of $2,000 to print and mail the newsletter. Half of the $2,000 came in after the newsletter was mailed to residents, said Harris, adding that the positive response the group received from some residents about the newsletter was encouraging.
Members of the group have opposed a Board of Selectman resolution to address racism as a public health crisis. The Board of Selectmen at its March 4 meeting rescinded the resolution in favor of sending it to a town-wide vote.
Republican Selectman Kristi Sogofsky found the newsletter divisive. “Anything that causes any more division in our community isn’t helpful,” she said. “People are trying to have difficult and hard conversations. We don’t need to be pulling each other apart.”
“I really hope this was an effort by a small group of misguided people who gathered some money and put this together,” said resident Alisha Gorder. “It doesn’t represent my values and the values of this town.”