August 20, 2014

Mayor Alex B. Morse
City of Holyoke
536 Dwight Street
Holyoke, MA 01040

Dear Mayor Morse,

I am writing on behalf of the Greater Springfield NAACP. We are concerned that the
unsettling circumstances, leading to so much unrest, civil disruption and disquiet in
Ferguson, Missouri could happen in Holyoke, Massachusetts, as well as many
communities throughout our nation. In retrospect, what is evident is that Ferguson
city leadership failed to take the necessary steps in advance of last week and in the
initial days of the unrest, to address several underlying issues. As a result, the city’s
leadership is now seen by the nation as having a deficit regarding good
governance, appropriate law enforcement procedures and equitably addressing
the concerns of all citizens. Unfortunately, many of the same contributing elements,
which precipitated the unrest in Ferguson, exist in the City of Holyoke.

Accordingly, the Greater Springfield NAACP respectfully requests that you take
immediate steps to establish a commission to identify, analyze and make
recommendations regarding the underlying issues, which may potentially cause
unrest. These issues include but are not limited to:

a) Cultural competency of law enforcement and the fair representation of all
people in the criminal justice system
b) Appropriate use of lethal force by law enforcement
c) Potential conflicting practices by law enforcement with the guarantees of the
First, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the Constitution
d) Addressing the issues of respect between law enforcement and diverse
communities.

To be credible, the commission must be composed of law enforcement officials,
members from the legal, business and faith communities, and community residents
and leaders. Many, if not all of the disturbing circumstances, which may lead to civil
unrest, property destruction and violence, do exist in the City of Holyoke.








Proactive leadership, starting with your office, is needed to address these issues to
lessen the likelihood, or the extent of civil unrest in volatile situations. The Greater
Springfield NAACP is certain that most Holyoke residents do not want to see their city
pictured across the nation as Ferguson, MO has been viewed.

The conditions in Ferguson were a “perfect storm” that may have been foreseen.
Situations have occurred in Massachusetts, without the extremes of Ferguson, which
could have led to disquieting events. Therefore, establishing a commission is an
appropriate action that will protect the city. Additionally, The Greater Springfield
NAACP is confident that you want to be fully prepared as mayor if an event and
contributing conditions lead to civil unrest. Please take the appropriate steps to
foster tranquility and justice in the great City of Holyoke.

Again, the Greater Springfield NAACP asks for your immediate attention to this
request. I am available to discuss the matter further should you desire.


Sincerely

GREATER SPRINGFIELD NAACP

Rev. Talbert W. Swan, II
President

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