U.S. attorney Rachael Rollins opens probe into racism in Everett city government
The investigation comes as allegations of racism have thrust Everett into the spotlight. Although the city — just across the Mystic River from Boston — has a majority of black and Latino residents, its politics don’t reflect that shift. An entrenched — and virtually all-white — power structure runs the city with little more than lip service to notions of equity and inclusion.
In a frequently cited example, former adviser Anthony DiPierro was attacked for using racial slurs in conversations he described as friendly banter. He refused to step down for months, while DeMaria defended his continued presence in office.
In her letter to DeMaria announcing the investigation, Rollins made it clear that she believes recent resignations from DeMaria’s inner circle are indicative of deeper issues in the city.
“Although your relative on the Everett City Council (Anthony DiPierro) and your director of communications both abruptly resigned last week, it only happened after months of public outrage and criticism from more and more of your constituents,” Rollins wrote. “Former Councilman DiPierro recently posted a message on his social media that appeared to urge ‘others who participated in these hurtful and callous jokes to also do the right thing and resign from their government positions. city.” This statement indicates that more members of Everett’s municipal leadership have engaged in this unacceptable, offensive, and possibly discriminatory behavior.
DiPierro’s comments were just one illustration of the harmful culture at Everett City Hall. In March, a leaked recording of a Zoom meeting showed a number of city officials scoffing at the idea of including black residents in city events.
Deanna Deveney – until recently the mayor’s spokeswoman – was captured on this video urging DiPierro to “bring one of your dark friends” to town events, to avoid accusations of racism.
“I don’t have many, to be clear,” DiPierro replied, in what seems to pass for humor among Everett power brokers.
Rollins is not laughing. “The First Amendment protects free speech,” she wrote. “However, people have the right to be free from racial discrimination and/or sexual harassment by members of municipal government, whether elected, appointed or employed. Employees and residents of ‘Everett deserve no less.
Rollins ordered the city to turn over a host of documents detailing the policies as well as any complaints of discrimination, harassment or retaliation dating back to 2018 — regardless of how the city resolved them.
The city was also ordered to retain other records that may be relevant to the investigation, whether or not they were specifically requested, and not to alter or destroy computer records.
Through a spokeswoman, Rollins declined to elaborate on the letter.
For her part, DeMaria released the following statement: “We are aware of the investigation and the city will cooperate fully in this matter.”
As mayor, DeMaria ushered in a new era of development – starring, of course, the Encore casino.
But he has also been dogged by a series of persistent allegations – of financial irregularities, sexual harassment and other abuses of power.
Most of those claims have gone unheeded, in a city run anachronistically with an iron fist. The Globe’s Stephanie Ebbert recently chronicled how he and a handful of associates seem to have the city in their grip – crushing potential adversaries and silencing critical voices.
But DeMaria could soon face his worst nightmare: an investigation that he cannot close, led by a prosecutor whose immunity to intimidation is proven.