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Portland Mayor appoints working group for 13 member Racial Equity Steering Committee

The 13 committee memebers will work with City Council regarding the ways city government address and respond to institutional racism and structural inequities.

PORTLAND, Maine — Portland mayor Kate Synder named a working group Monday night to help the newly formed racial equity steering committee.

Councilor Belinda Ray, executive director of the Portland Public Library Sarah Campbell, and Regina Phillips make up the working group.

Formed in July, members of the steering committe will be tasked with developing recommendations to the city council regarding the ways in which city government should address and respond to institutional racism and structural inequities.

“These three people will serve us well by selecting a neutral convenor who will be able to leverage community conversation, resources, and who will be able to work with the racial equity steering committee to help inform and support their process and outcome," Mayor Snyder said.

The steering committee’s first meeting will be September 28.

SEPTEMBER 10: Mayor Kate Snyder announced the 13 members on the City Council’s Racial Equity Steering Committee during its Wednesday meeting.

The newly formed Committee is part of a resolution passed at the Council's July 13 meeting. Members will be tasked with developing recommendations to the City Council regarding the ways in which city government should address and respond to institutional racism and structural inequities.

The Racial Equity Steering Committee is charged with reviewing the City’s approach to public safety, including but not limited to:

  • "An examination of the ever-expanding role we, as a City, have asked the police to play in our community — ranging from responding to noise complaints, traffic violations, and violent crime to conducting wellness checks and responding to behavioral health calls and drug overdoses — and
  • Whether we have provided them with the appropriate resources to accomplish this work; the way in which the City interacts with area agencies, organizations, and non-profits in the name of public safety and how these partnerships can best work to enhance public safety in the City; and
  • Recommending changes, as necessary, to various policies, structures, and procedures related to public safety that may disproportionately impact Black people and other persons of color with the specific aim of improving community relations, establishing mutual trust and respect, and rooting out and ending systemic racism."

The Council said it received 29 applications before narrowing the committee down to the final roster.

“I’m grateful to everyone who raised their hand for this service to our community," said Mayor Kate Snyder. "The Steering Committee is comprised of 13 talented individuals who will bring valuable experience and perspective to the goals laid out in the resolution.”

The Council’s Racial Equity Steering Committee members are:

  1. Abdul (Ali) Ali
  2. Pious Ali
  3. Leila Deandrade
  4. Kate Knox
  5. Merita McKenzie
  6. Peter ODonnell
  7. Jonathan Sahrbeck
  8. Niky Dwin Watler Amaris
  9. Lado Lodoka
  10. Suheir Alaskari
  11. Deborah Ibonwa
  12. Jerome Bennette
  13. Louis Pickens