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Select Board vice chair Mannan alleges ‘racial attacks’ in Hopkinton

by | Apr 17, 2024 | Featured: News, News

Shahidul Mannan

Shahidul Mannan has been vice chair of the Select Board for the past year. FILE PHOTO/JOHN CARDILLO

In an uncharacteristic appearance during the public comment period at Tuesday’s Select Board meeting, board vice chair Shahidul Mannan said he has been threatened as a person of color and targeted in racial profiling incidents.

“I would like to address a grave concern that has recently touched not only myself, but also a respected peer and our families. It is imperative that I discuss the sensitive matter of racial attacks within our town,” stressed Mannan, who was participating in the meeting remotely. “Let me state for the record, for today and for all future generations, that despite the challenges we face, I have unwavering faith in the heart of this country and this town, which I have called home for the better part of my life — 28 and 12 years, respectively, to be exact. This is my home, my country, my town. And I am here to stay.

“In recent weeks and months, I have endured threats, harassment and racial profiling. Among others, most recently, I was stopped at an event when I was with my wife and children and asked if and why I’m still living in this town. These actions have been made all the more poignant by their visibility in the local media, a town newspaper [Editor’s note: In a follow-up communication Wednesday, Mannan clarified that he was referring to the website HopNews], and solidified or normalized by the silence against such injustices. It is disappointing that not one voice among any of our current or former elected leaders in town or any other leadership has risen to speak against these acts until this moment.

“The truth is, racial bias still exists among us, influencing perceptions and actions. It is evident when a person of color speaks with conviction, they are often perceived differently than their white counterparts. This is not just an observation. It is a systemic issue that we must address. When a white male speaks strongly, he is admired as a strong leader. When a white female does, she’s seen as a progressive, rightfully so. Yet, when a brown man speaks strongly, it’s often labeled a cultural issue. One can only imagine the reaction when a Black man speaks strongly, or a brown or Black woman, for that matter. This highlights clear systemic racism.

“I did not seek public office for personal gain or monetary gain. I did so with the intent to serve and improve our community, a value instilled in me by my family. It is my duty to represent not just some of us or one, but all members of our community. With your support, I will continue to do so. And I am hopeful. I believe in this town and our neighbors and residents who have opened their hearts and arms for us for over a decade. I strongly believe that they will not tolerate the racial profiling and threats to stop my voice or any other voice. I am hopeful that my clear and candid statement today will not only resonate in their hearts, but they will resist and deny any part in it.

“Racism, bias and profiling has no place in Hopkinton, my beloved town. Thank you for your attention.”

Select Board chair Muriel Kramer thanked Mannan for sharing his view.

“I appreciate that you are elevating the issue and standing strong,” she said. “We all want to make sure we make space for everybody’s voice.”

Mannan, along with the other members of the board, has come under fire over the past few months from a vocal group of residents furious over the board’s decision to terminate Hopkinton Police Sgt. Tim Brennan earlier this year. The group started a recall petition for all Select Board members, and individuals have expressed their ire at recent Select Board meetings. However, Mannan did not call out any specific group or individuals in his comments Tuesday.

17 Comments

  1. It won't change

    ‘One can only imagine the reaction when a Black man speaks strongly, or a brown or Black woman, for that matter. This highlight clear systemic racism.’ Such a telling statement of the state of race relations in this town. I applaud Shahidul for having the courage to speak out on this on-going and ugly topic in our town. As a Black man living here for 20+ years and growing up in similar communities in Massachusetts that exercise this subtle racism, I find myself keeping to myself so as not to experience this disappointing bias. I’m not sure I’d be as democratic and calm as Shahidul, so hats off to him and he’ll get my vote!

    Reply
  2. Brad

    Ahhh, the race card. Was wondering when that would show up.

    Reply
    • Chad

      Ahh, the racism. Was wondering when you would show up.

      Reply
      • Green Girl

        Yup.

        Reply
    • Beth

      Really Brad? Grow up. Why would you feel the need to just be mean?

      Reply
  3. KT

    First off, racial attacks and threats in any form are absolutely unacceptable and it is unfortunate that Mr. Mannan experienced that. However, criticism of his actions as an elected member of the Select Board are absolutely acceptable and should be expected. I have seen/heard many comments on HopNews and during public comments regarding Mr. Mannan’s (and Mr. Nasrullah’s) SB actions, but I don’t think that criticism “highlight[s] clear systemic racism”

    Reply
  4. Margie W

    So sad and sorry that Shahidul and his family, or anyone in Hopkinton, has had people harassing them for any reason. As a 30 year resident in town, many years of which I spent in public service – volunteering, schools and town committees, I have appreciated and supported Shahidul, Tim Brennan, Joe Bennett, Norman Khumalo, Irfan Nasrullah, and many others. These men have all given much in support of our town and deserve our thanks and appreciation!

    Reply
  5. Binki DeCollibus

    After the recent the TM regarding funding the new school, I spoke to Superintendent Cavanagh regarding the projected graphic of the project that we had been looking at for a few hours up on the stage had only White kids, White families and absolutely didn’t reflect this town’s student body or a large percentage of Hopkinton’s population.
    During a break I was walking down the hall and coming the other way were teens …two groups … multi ethnicities, but none were White.
    My first reaction was sadness. That unbeknownst to them, on the other side of the hall wall a large group of people were discussing the need for a new school for Hopkinton’s fine students, but really dissing this group walking down the hall by not acknowledging them as members on a campus. This expensive artist’s rendition, which had to have been approved, lacked that acknowledgement. I kept thinking as I looked at that graphic that many of the parents/voters in that audience and some of the speakers had to sit and look at a proposal that didn’t seem for them. It was awful. I mentioned it to the Superintendent as she left the meeting and the next day a new graphic appeared along with articles on the school. These slights and biases whether deliberate or unintended are a problem for this town.
    I have nothing but the highest regard for the Mannan family. They are two people of great integrity and community commitment whose experience at the hands of someone of lesser integrity is sadly becoming more normalized.
    I am not addressing any political concerns because for me, that’s not what this is about. This is about being a decent human and a good citizen …everyone.

    Reply
  6. Marisa Jones

    I am a supporter of Mannan and have incredible respect for him and his family. I do not doubt or call into question his claims that he has been the target of racial discrimination and microagressions. The Independent absolutely did the first part of the job by asking for clarification on the statement regarding the media’s role in his recent experiences – but once the competing town paper was mentioned, The Independent failed to ask for the evidence. I believe Mannan was making a larger statement about our community as a whole and perhaps not a reaction to current Select Board disapproval (but it’s unclear.) However, the incessant name calling by the establishment political party is tired; it has become common practice if a member or policy is questioned, challenged, or held to account for an immediate pushback to ensue. The tactic involves personally harming and discrediting anyone who dares to stand in opposition. Those who have been brave enough to challenge this current system in recent years, especially those willing to run for town office, have been labeled as racist, transphobic, ableist, etc. This strategy, which lacks integrity and morals, has proven wildly effective. However, we absolutely cannot stand for inaccuracies here – an 8th grader in civics class knows that a government does not work for its citizens without a free and open press. And as one would expect, the standards at all papers improve with competition which strengthens accountability and function – the media can also provide citizens with a platform to be heard. And as a point of clarification, the speech of citizens does NOT reflect the viewpoint of the paper. A paper is neutral – citizens are not. I would like The Independent to do the work here and ask Mannan and any other town servant who makes these claims to prove them. Where is this racist article?Where does this pattern of complicity and silence exist? Reporting on a claim without proving it is a mistake – we need higher standards. If the claim cannot be proven, a retraction and an apology is owed- there is no place for racism or defamation here.

    Reply
    • Beth Malloy

      You are kidding right? Town ‘Servants’? Marissa do you serve our community in any way? Please list the areas where you served our town? See we are volunteers. That’s what we do for our town. We do it because we want our community to thrive.

      Reply
      • Ashley Fogg

        Beth, what are you so outraged about? Town “servants?” I suggest you find a dictionary or even Google to look up what that means. But to help aide you in your question: The term “town servant” typically refers to an individual who serves the local community or municipality in a governmental or administrative capacity. This could include elected officials, town employees, volunteers, or anyone who works to improve or manage the affairs of the town. They may serve in various roles such as town council members, mayors, city managers, municipal employees, or volunteers in public service organizations. The term “town servants” used by Marisa is entirely appropriate.

        Furthermore, your responses consistently lag behind, and it seems you have difficulty grasping the information shared. I encourage you to seek open-mindedness over immediate outrage.

        Lastly, why is there this insistence that only elected individuals have the right to speak? We’ve been through this. Stop attempting to silence those who don’t share the same beliefs. Expand your perspective and refrain from launching unfounded attacks on members of our community.

        Marisa is among the most intelligent, kind, and empathetic individuals in Hopkinton. It would benefit you to listen to her and refrain from trying to discredit her.

        Reply
      • Marisa Jones

        Beth.. I make a comment that the establishment party (you and your friends) routinely use personal attacks as a way of shutting down discussion and harming those with whom you disagree. And then you launch a personal attack.

        I am proud to support Mannan, an excellent public servant – I am surprised you are unfamiliar with this term, but perhaps I shouldn’t be.

        Reply
  7. Beth Malloy

    I’m saddened and sickened that this is still going on in town. Shahidul Mannan has given so much of his time to our community. I’m proud to call him a friend. When will we see positive change here? When this stupid recall is over and done with I will again vote for Shahidul. Hopnews aka Hopcrap is dividing this town.

    Reply
    • Scott

      What is stupid is that you think this board is qualified to oversee our town. Now that’s stupid

      Reply
      • Glen Dawson

        The Indy notes that Mr. Mannan was referring to HopNews as complicit in promoting racism. Yet, to date, Mr. Mannan has refused to clarify his statement. He evidently feels that he can abuse his public position to defame HopNews with no repercussions for his unsubstantiated claim. HopNews has repeatedly reached out to Mr. Mannan to ask him to clarify his comment by specifically stating where in HopNews this alleged racism occurred. To my knowledge, he has refused to claricy his statement. And evidently the Indy decided it was okay to repeat his defamatory comment without asking for even a shred of evidence.

        Reply
  8. Jake

    He shared one comment he received, which didn’t seem to be based in racism at all. It sounds like he’s being criticized for the actions took, or failed to take as an elected leader, deservedly.

    Reply
  9. Ruth

    Because someone disagrees with you and your statements does not make them racist. The race card is used too often when it is inappropriate to. Racism is young men of color being shoot at police stops around the country. You are allowed to disagree with policies and statements. Be careful using the race card. Remember the little boy who cried wolf!

    Reply

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