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Equal Justice in Needham fights discrimination

By Amelia Tarallo
Hometown Weekly Staff

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd was killed by police. His death has sparked protests, reforms, and the formation of organizations dedicated to removing the systemic racism existing throughout the country. While it is easy to form an organization, it is hard to actually ensure actions are taken to better a community. 

Equal Justice in Needham was formed amid the protests organized in reaction to George Floyd’s murder. As local communities showed their support for victims of injustice, co-founder of Equal Justice Needham Noah Mertz and his colleagues realized that there needed to be a group for what they were doing.

After a series of vigils, the idea for Equal Justice in Needham was born. “As we kept building this group of people who invested in maintaining some sort of prolonged movement in town that was basically in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, we realized that what we were doing wasn’t really fitting under any of the existing organizations that people were affiliated with,” explained Mertz. “We were doing something that was responding to a specific historical moment that the town was reacting to. We decided to create this new group, Equal Justice in Needham, with the aim of taking the next step. Like what comes after the vigil, what comes after the action.”

Since then, the group, made up of people with all different backgrounds, has shown its support in Needham for reaching equal justice. Since starting, they have gone to Town Meeting holding signs supporting Black Lives Matter, aided local high school students in their march through town to the police station, and participated in talks to address the inequality existing in the community.

They have no intention of slowing down, and want to be sure the momentum for change keeps going. The group is excited to be working with the Lived Experiences Project, a group of residents who are working on a survey that will offer an alternative way for residents to anonymously express how they have seen injustice in Needham. “It’s an academically rigorous and independently-run survey, operated by concerned Needham residents who are affiliated with Equal Justice in Needham, but are operating independently to maintain some of the integrity of the survey. The intention is to reach every person in Needham to collect anyone’s experiences with identity-based discrimination,” explained Mertz.

As protests continue around the country, Equal Justice in Needham will be working to ensure that those affected by discrimination will be able to tell their stories - and see change. With this group of determined activists hard at work, Needham can be assured that those positive - not to mention perpetual - changes are on the way.

Individuals who would like to learn more or join EJN's mailing list may send an email to thishappenshereneedham@gmail.com, follow the group on Instagram at @equaljusticeinneedham, and find the group's Facebook page.

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