In its fifth consecutive year, Fitchburg will celebrate National Night Out, an annual campaign sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch that brings police and neighbors together under positive circumstances. Fitchburg will join over 16,500 communities from all 50 states and US territories in hosting activities aiming to develop safer, more caring neighborhoods by enhancing the relationship between community members and law enforcement.
While the event’s original goal to build community has not changed, many elements of this year’s National Night Out will be different from previous years. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event, which is typically celebrated on the first Tuesday in August, was rescheduled to Tuesday October 6, 2020. Another change is that the event will take place on a virtual platform and be broadcasted through Facebook Live instead of being held at Lowe Park.
Coming on the heels of peaceful demonstrations denouncing police brutality in Leominster and Fitchburg, and a virtual celebration of Juneteenth, this year’s National Night Out will help to continue a community conversation emerging in the region right now related to contemporary issues of racial injustice.
Organizers of Fitchburg’s National Night Out include representatives from NewVue Communities, the Fitchburg Police Department, ReImagine North of Main, the Yo Daddy Doe Sho, and the ARTivism Initiative. The planning team, in a collaborative effort, has developed a full itinerary including the following discussion panels:
- The 6 Pillars for XXI Century Community Policing;
- Diversity, Inclusion, and Representation in City Government and Services;
- and Strategies to Improve Communication Between the Police Department and the Community.
The panels will be interspersed with art-sharing, storytelling, and performances touching on themes of human experiences and healing during this unprecedented year. The event will also include a virtual resource fair.
Ernest Martineau, Chief of Police for the Fitchburg Police Department and planning committee member said “National Night out 2020 will look drastically different from previous years, however the message of police community relations will be loud and clear. Established in 1984 as a bridge between law enforcement and the communities we serve, now more than ever we see the importance in this relationship.”
Event organizer, Meredith Geraghty from NewVue Communities said “My favorite part of National Night Out has always been the resource fair. Our community’s health and safety depend on the quality of our law enforcement as well as access to housing, healthcare, education, healthy food, and art. This event highlights many of the great organizations and services that exist in the region. This year we are seeing new, young community leaders who are participating in NewVue’s Community Stewards program and are stepping up and taking the lead on this event. “
Derek Craig aka Yo Daddy Doe said “I want to focus this year on broadening the conversation with first responders and the communities they serve as well as provide a platform for those who are participating in this event to speak, listen, and observe. This will be as interactive as possible; from questions for the panelists to information and contacts to our resources here in North Central MA. As an artist and activist, I feel personally responsible for providing this platform to people who look like me and to make this as constructive and relatable as it has been in previous years.”
NationAll residents of Fitchburg and the surrounding communities are invited register to attend the event at https://tinyurl.com/FitchburgNationalNightOut . Any organization or individual who wants to highlight a resource or service within the community during the event should email Francisco Ramos at Framos@nvcomm.org. Deadline for art submissions and resource fair materials is September 30th, 2020 at 11:59pm0