Updated March 15 at 4:43 p.m.
An Everett City Councilor is under fire after admitting he shared a racist meme with some of his fellow Council members. The city’s mayor says more allegations of racism among the Council will be investigated.
Anthony DiPierro, who represents Everett’s Ward 3, issued an apology in local newspaper The Everett Advocate for sharing the cartoon meme, calling it “a learning experience.” He offered no response to residents who lined up at Monday night’s City Council meeting to condemn his actions.
“You are my representative and, in a city where the majority of people are people of color, what you did was insulting and hurtful,” said Janice Lark, her voice breaking as she went on. “As a woman of color, I have to deal with racist and ignorant people all the time. I don’t want to hear this stuff by the person who is supposed to be representing my interest in City Council.”
Lark, who lives in DiPierro’s ward, said DiPierro’s apology in the newspaper “doesn’t change anything.”
The incident is the latest to expose racial tensions in Everett, where most elected officials are white but two-thirds of the city’s residents are non-white or Hispanic/Latino. It’s a 40% increase from just two decades ago, according to U.S. Census data.
The city’s school superintendent Priya Tahiliani filed a complaint in January with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination accusing Mayor Carlo DeMaria of having a “racist agenda” and undermining her authority. Everett’s first Black City Councilor, Gerly Adrien, in late 2020 accused her white colleagues of trying to push her off the Council and sparred publicly with the mayor.
“Here we go again in this city,” said Guerline Alcy, a Black resident and former Everett City Council candidate, said at Monday night’s meeting.
“We know they love Black people when it's [an] election. But when something happens that really hurts our feelings, everybody stays mute,” said Alcy. “It’s not acceptable and I’m here to ask that Councilor Anthony DiPierro that you need to step down.”
A longtime Everett resident who asked not be identified said the DiPierro’s failure to apologize at the City Council meeting was “not surprising.”
“There is still the old Everett — the old guard and people who have been involved in politics for a long time,” the resident said. “An old guard maintaining power and not wanting to relinquish it.”
Mayor DeMaria has hinted more racist behavior in Everett’s City Council may be coming to light. In an editorial printed above DiPierro’s apology in The Everett Advocate, DeMaria wrote that he “stands against discriminatory behavior in all forms.”
He also suggested, without further detail, that there were other incidents.
“We will be investigating additional alleged racist and discriminatory posts by other members of the Everett City Council,” DeMaria wrote.
On Tuesday, the Mayor's spokesperson Deanna Deveney said the city's human resources department was investigating those posts but could not comment further. Council member DiPierro did not return a request for comment.
Cory McCarthy, hired by Tahiliani as Everett Schools’ first Chief Equity Officer, said Council members seemed unmoved by citizens' pleas for them to “embrace anti-racism,” noting 84% of Everett high school students are students of color.
“Over 100 cultures, gifted multilingual newcomers, grandchildren of the blue collar, Black and brown kids should not be subjected to such degradation by adults who run on the interest of the people,” said McCarthy.
One of Monday night’s speakers, Everett teacher Jessica Gold Boots, condemned DiPierro’s actions and then turned her attention to the Council.
“How will all of you as a collective body work together to make it crystal clear that racist acts and words have no home in Everett?” she said.
Correction: McCarthy’s role at Everett Schools was incorrect in a previous version of this article.