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Greenfield protesters denounce anti-sanctuary state postcards

  • Demonstrators stand together through the first snowfall of the season, gathering on the Greenfield Town Common Saturday in protest of anti-sanctuary state postcards distributed in town this week. Dec. 9, 2017. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Demonstrators Penny Novak, from left, Bob Armstrong and Sonia Lindop, gather on the Greenfield Town Common during the first snowfall of the season on Saturday in protest of anti-sanctuary state postcards distributed in town this week. Dec. 9, 2017. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Penny Novak gathers with demonstrators on the Greenfield Town Common during the first snowfall of the season on Saturday in protest of anti-sanctuary state postcards distributed in town this week. Dec. 9, 2017. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE



Recorder Staff
Sunday, December 10, 2017

GREENFIELD — Greenfield residents recently received some unexpected mail.

Postcards distributed to mailboxes throughout town show, on one side, a green sign that reads “GREENFIELD WELCOMES ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS.” On the other, the postcard asks residents to call Rep. Paul Mark to demand he withdraw his support for a bill to make Massachusetts a sanctuary state.

The postcard, which was mailed by the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, upset numerous residents who gathered on the Town Common Saturday in protest.

“I was disgusted by the flier,” said Greenfield resident Jan Maher, who attended the demonstration with her husband, Doug Selwyn.

“This is just part of the ugliness happening from top to bottom,” Selwyn added.

The postcard campaign also resulted in a local officer of Mass. Fiscal Alliance quitting that group — as well as his seats on the Greenfield Community College Board of Trustees and a Baystate Franklin Medical Center advisory board. Dylan Korpita of Sunderland, who ran unsuccessfully for state Legislature three years ago, said Saturday he has left the Mass. Fiscal Alliance because he disagreed with the anti-migrant messaging.

At Saturday’s rally, Maher explained that when she saw the postcard, her first impression was that the it was pro-sanctuary state. It wasn’t until she read further that she realized it was the opposite, discouraging sanctuary states.

The demonstration was organized by Franklin County Continuing the Political Revolution (FCCPR), and led by FCCPR member David Cohen.

“They have been doing this all over the state, promoting this question that immigrants are the cause of our problems here in the United States,” Cohen said of the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance. The organization’s website describes itself as a nonpartisan, nonprofit group focused on promoting social welfare.

Sean Cain, an aide to Rep. Paul Mark, read a statement from Mark. He described such postcards as becoming the norm in many parts of the country, and emphasized his desire to ensure “opportunity and fairness for anyone, regardless of what they look like.”

“We are going to stand up to these groups and fight back for the values we know are right,” Cain read.

Local affiliation

The demonstrators also called out Korpita. When reached by email Saturday afternoon, Korpita said he is the only Mass. Alliance board member from western Massachusetts.

Cohen circulated a petition to have Korpita removed from his positions as a member of Greenfield Community College’s board of trustees and a member of the Community Advisory Council at Baystate Franklin Medical Center. But Korpita seemed to have gotten ahead of the protest with his weekend resignations.

“How are people going to use these public facilities?” Cohen asked, then, referring to immigrants, adding, “How are they gonna feel going to the hospital when someone sits on the board who wants to deport them?”

“Dylan Korpita does not belong on any of these boards,” said At-Large Town Councilor Karen “Rudy” Renaud, noting that residents haven’t seen the last of her proposed Safe City Ordinance, which was voted down by her fellow Greenfield town councilors last August.

Member responds

Korpita told The Recorder Saturday he stepped down from his position as treasurer of Mass. Fiscal Alliance that morning after learning about the postcards, which local politicians and politically active residents were already talking about on Friday. Korpita said he also resigned from Baystate Franklin’s Community Advisory Council, and heeded GCC board of trustees Chairman Robert Cohn’s request to resign from the GCC board.

“I was involved in these groups to give back, not get ahead, and I will remain in Franklin County and find other ways to help my community,” he said.

Korpita said he didn’t know about the postcards before they were sent out, wasn’t involved in their mailing and doesn’t agree with their message.

“I got involved with (the Mass. Fiscal Alliance) because they were supposed to focus on budgetary and good governance issues,” he said. “This mailer does not do that, and drives a wedge between their organization and many members of the community both by the topic it addresses and the way that it addresses it. I had voiced my opposition within (the Mass. Fiscal Alliance) about the group getting involved in the sanctuary state bill issue when it was discussed in general.”

While the demonstration was centered around the postcards and the Mass. Fiscal Alliance, those involved hoped to send a broader message.

“We want to make crystal clear that Greenfield welcomes everyone,” said Colrain resident David Greenberg.

“Our experience is Greenfield has been incredibly welcoming to us,” said Maher, who moved to Greenfield about a year ago. “I would like to think that’d be true if I spoke Spanish as my native language, or if I was brown skinned. … But I know it isn’t, yet.”

Reach Shelby Ashline at: sashline@recorder.com

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