The town will host a forum to discuss diversity and inclusion in the wake of the death of George Floyd, who was killed by a police officer in Minneapolis over Memorial Day weekend.
The forum, for which a date has yet to be set, was announced in a joint statement from the Andover Select Board, Town Manager Andrew Flanagan, Chief of Police Patrick Keefe, and Fire Chief Michael Mansfield, all condemning "the actions of the Minneapolis police officers which resulted in the death of George Floyd.”
Floyd's death prompted protests against racism and police violence all over the country, as well as racially charged incidents — even locally.
In one situation, a group of former Andover High School students re-posted racist social media posts made by fellow students. The posts, which were years old, were sent to school administrators and posted to social media. The school administration responded by sending the posts to the police, who are now looking into them.
In another incident, an off-duty lieutenant with Andover Fire Rescue was placed on paid administrative leave after he was caught on camera accusing a 19-year-old Dominican woman and life-long Andover resident of stealing mail from her own mailbox.
“What happened in Minnesota, and recent incidents here in Andover, does not embody the values of our community, yet we know that implicit bias is embedded in our culture,” the statement reads. “We are now beginning a process that invites change and encourages civil discourse so that we may work together toward equal treatment and acceptance of all.”
The statement also addressed the policies of the Police and Fire departments, saying that those employed by Andover Fire Rescue have had “extensive sensitivity training around diversity and inclusion.”
“Further, Andover Fire Rescue continues to review its training and culture regarding diversity and inclusion, as well as the effectiveness of that training,” according to the statement.
The statement also says that the Andover police are not trained to restrain an individual the way George Floyd was in Minneapolis, which was through the use of a chokehold.
“The methods used by police in Minneapolis that killed George Floyd are not part of any police training program in Massachusetts, including those used by members of the Andover Police Department. Specifically, police are never trained to place a prone suspect on their face or to put pressure on the neck or throat of a person being detained.”
Flanagan said he date for the forum will be announced.