To the editor:

The 1st Essex District is part of a global community mobilizing for equity and justice. We should be represented, at every level of government, by people ready to do the work with us. 

This is no time to uphold the status quo. Black lives depend on dramatic transformation of our laws and institutions. The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and too many others at the hands of police sparked the current movement, but the change that comes from this moment must extend throughout and beyond the criminal legal system. Dismantling systemic racism calls for policy change in education, healthcare, housing, energy, transit, and so much more – it must be foundational to every step forward.

With Election Day four months away, it’s critical that we determine who is ready to meet this moment and support this movement. We need to hear specific, substantive, and heartfelt commitments, so we can hold those we elect accountable in the months and years ahead.

As a candidate for state representative in Amesbury, Newburyport, and Salisbury, I want every member of this community to know that if you grant me the privilege to serve you, I will be an active ally to Black leaders and organizers and hold a steadfast commitment to the work of antiracism. 

I will advocate for meaningfully investing in the health and economic resiliency of communities. I will work within the Legislature to establish effective accountability for civil rights violations by ending the legal immunity currently provided to police officers. I will fight to codify the prioritization of environmental justice to correct for the disproportionate impact of energy and infrastructure decisions on communities of color. I will partner with local leaders, educators, and law enforcement to cultivate more inclusive and antiracist communities. 

Across Massachusetts, as state leaders are stepping up, our representative is staying silent on this vital front. Last month, state Rep. Liz Miranda and Sen. Cindy Creem introduced An Act Relative to Saving Black Lives and Transforming Public Safety, which calls for banning chokeholds, requiring de-escalation tactics, and improving police accountability. Elected officials are working to correct for the fact that Massachusetts is one of only four states that does not certify its police officers. Rep. Michael Day introduced a bill to make it more viable for residents to pursue civil rights claims against police and other state actors. Our state representative chose not to cosponsor any of these efforts.

For seven years, I have worked in state houses across the region, advocating for clean energy policy that will ensure we do our part in rising to the climate crisis. Systemic racism, like climate change, is far bigger than our district, our state, or our region. And like combating climate change, eradicating systemic racism will take all of us together, using our voices and our votes to change racist laws and institutions. Silence is complicity.

By electing persistent advocates and holding them accountable, we can make this moment a turning point.

Amber Hewett


The letter-writer is the Democratic candidate for state representative in the 1st Essex District.

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