Council declares ‘Love Has a Home in Bristol’

Councilors make statements on hate speech and gun violence, while honoring Bristol Police and veterans

By Christy Nadalin
Posted 5/13/21

The May 5 Bristol Town Council meeting wrapped up with a series of agenda items that were a departure from the standard fare of committee appointments and victualing licenses. In a string of public …

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Council declares ‘Love Has a Home in Bristol’

Councilors make statements on hate speech and gun violence, while honoring Bristol Police and veterans

Posted

The May 5 Bristol Town Council meeting wrapped up with a series of agenda items that were a departure from the standard fare of committee appointments and victualing licenses. In a string of public discussions, the council endorsed the idea of hanging banners to honor individual veterans throughout town, supported Gun Violence Awareness Day, and pivoted from an effort to declare “Hate Has No Home in Bristol” to unanimously declare “Love Has a Home in Bristol.”

Hometown Heroes

Joseph DaRosa of Opechee Drive and Monique Latessa of Kickemuit Avenue proposed Bristol participate in Hometown Heroes, a movement to display banners in honor of local members of the military, past and present.

“There are many people around town who are very interested in honoring our military,” said Ms. Latessa. Mr. DaRosa and Ms. Latessa and their committee found a company that produces military tribute batters that could be produced and displayed on telephone poles along Hope Street and Metacom Avenue

“We’re the most patriotic town in the country, and this program aligns with our current celebration of the Fourth of July,” said Mr. DaRosa.

If launched, Bristol would be the first Rhode Island town to participate in this program, though several Massachusetts towns are doing something similar.

Costs, roughly $200 per banner, would be borne by the family of the service member or veteran, though a fundraising component could cover costs for some families, including “Gold Star” families, whose veteran was killed in action or due to the psychological fallout of their service.

I think that this is an outstanding idea,” said Council Chairman Nate Calouro. “It sounds very much in keeping with what Bristol is all about.” After the Council asked the town solicitor to look into any potential liabilities, Councilman Sweeney made a motion to refer the matter to the Veterans Council for a review and recommendation, and the motion passed unanimously.

Gun violence awareness

A few agenda items later, Susan Morettini of Highland Road submitted a request for support of a proclamation that has named the first Friday in June National Gun Violence Awareness Day.

“This is the seventh year that the national gun violence Awareness Day has been the first Friday in June, and I’m asking the Bristol Town Council to adopt the proclamation that I sent along and recognize this important day,” said Ms. Morettini. She noted that adoption would not require flags or any other public statement, beyond the suggestion that people wear orange in recognition of the day. “It’s just a recognition of all the hardships and deaths that have occurred by guns and with this awareness, the hope is that people will start to try to find a solution.”

I think 13,000 gun homicides every year is way too many, and it's disappointing that our country has such a problem with guns,” said Councilor Tim Sweeney in support of the resolution. Councilor Mary Parella suggested that all violence is a problem, to which Ms. Morettini agreed, but pointed out that in her role as the Rhode Island lead in the “Be Smart” gun safety initiative, she really remains focused on gun violence specifically. “It’s not about taking sides, whether you own a gun or not,” she said. “I think we all need to work together, gun owners and non-gun-owners.”

The resolution passed 5-0.

Home for love

Immediately following Ms. Morettini’s resolution, Councilors Tim Sweeney and Aaron Ley presented a resolution titled “Hate Has No Home in Bristol.” Inspired by the appearance a few weeks ago of stickers bearing Nazi symbolism, Mr. Ley presented a resolution meant to affirm that the Town of Bristol stands together with victims of Nazism and neo-Nazism to say that this type of vandalism will not be tolerated in our community.

I was deeply disturbed to see the Nazi propaganda being put around our community, and I just want to let my colleagues know that this resolution just reaffirms Bristol’s commitment to being a safe place for all people,” said Mr. Sweeney.

The resolution also sought to officially thank the Bristol Police Department for its investigation.

Despite agreeing with the spirit of the resolution, Councilors Parella and Tony Teixeira expressed concerns about both the inclusivity of the resolution, as well as the impulse to submit resolutions in response to such matters as they arise. “Obviously I agree with the statement that hate has no place in Bristol, but that’s true right across the board,” said Mr. Teixeira.

Council Chairman Calouro was concerned with the resolution’s focus on hate, and suggested that, instead of staying “Hate has no home in Bristol,” we should be saying that “Love has a home in Bristol.”

The council then fell down a bit of a rabbit hole wordsmithing Mr. Ley’s original resolution, before Mr. Teixeira expressed frustration at what he called “resolution after resolution.”

“I mean, when we stand up a pen to paper constantly, what are we getting out of this?” he asked. Mr. Ley replied that, having drafted one resolution in his time on the council, he did not feel he was guilty of bombarding the council with resolutions, and in this case in particular, “I felt it was critically important for us to speak.”

Ultimately a motion was made to adopt the resolution with edits — after Chairman Calouro confirmed that Town Clerk Melissa Cordeiro had successfully tracked the edits. She replied in the affirmative, and the motion passed unanimously, with the final words of the resolution declaring that the Town of Bristol: “condemns the placement and public display of hate symbols in our community in the strongest possible way, and it unequivocally declares that ‘Love Has A Home In Bristol.’ ”

See the full resolution on 'Love' approved by the Bristol Town Council here.

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