BATH — The Bath City Council adopted a statement last week condemning injustice and discrimination in the city.

The statement was drafted and passed without input from people of color, however, which disappointed Devin Moore, 28, who organized Black Lives Matter protests in Bath.

“I’m a black, gay man and there are people who look like me who don’t have a voice,” said Moore. “Why didn’t people like me receive an invitation to be a part of the conversation?”

While he said he’s glad the equity statement exists, he said he hopes the statement inspires action.

“I’m an optimistic person, but I need to see action,” he said. “It’s easy to make a statement, but they’re just words on a page.”

The statement passed by the council reads: “The council and staff are committed to proactively address racism directed at people who are Black, Indigenous, and any People of Color. Moreover, we strive to eliminate all forms of prejudice based on ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, age, physical ability and religion in our government, programs and processes.”

One Bath resident, who wished to remain anonymous out of fear of retribution, told The Times Record he and his husband were called homophobic slurs by a neighbor on their front porch. The neighbor put their foot in his front door so he was unable to close it while the neighbor threatened to punch him. The neighbor returned a few days later and shot his car with a pellet gun.

“It suddenly made us feel very unsafe,” the resident said. “We were on the verge of selling the house and getting out of dodge. I was ready to abandon Bath thinking that’s how things are here.”

“When the police arrived the first thing out of the officer’s mouth was ‘I’m sorry you experienced that. That isn’t the norm here. You guys belong here,’” the resident said.

According to Bath police, the neighbor was charged with criminal mischief and harassment.

The resident said he’s relieved the city adopted the statement because “it puts people on notice that that sort of behavior isn’t acceptable. We’re a small town but we’re not small-minded.”

Counselor Phyllis Bailey said an off-shoot of the city’s Economic Development Committee drafted the statement this summer in response to the nationwide Black Lives Matter movement. The movement sparked protests across the country demanding justice for George Floyd and calling for an end of police brutality against people of color.

“We’re just a group of people who said, ‘This matters,’” said Bailey. “What happened to George Floyd just ripped away any fog surrounding what people of color experience daily in our country. We didn’t want to ignore that and sweep it under the rug.”

“We commend the Bath City Council for publicly recognizing that systemic racism exists in Maine, and for making a public commitment to root out structural inequality of all forms from city government and programs,” said Michael Kebede, policy counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine. “We look forward to seeing the measures city officials will take to give the words of the resolution force.”

Mike Field, Bath’s police chief, said the statement is “a living document” because it’s a reminder for him to continue evaluating what the department is doing — and what more could be done — to reject implicit bias while serving the community.

Field said he had “a heart-to-heart” with Moore and other leaders of the local Black Lives Matter movement over the summer.

“They said things we needed to hear,” said Field. “He told us what it’s like to be a person of color and how they feel. It helped me understand what we could do better.”

Moore encouraged residents who believe systemic racism and prejudice aren’t issues in Bath to take a closer look, reach out to someone different than themselves and learn about them and their experiences.

“It’s hard to see people be complacent because they think something doesn’t affect them,” Moore said. “We all have a duty to make sure everyone is treated fairly. It all boils down to basic human rights.”

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