Town denies allegations against WPD chief, admits 2014 racial harassment incident

While the Town acknowledged that McGowan’s lawsuit “raises genuine questions or doubts about the Town’s commitment to diversity, inclusion, and racial equity,” their response –– the second public statement made by the five-person board on the lawsuit –– disputes several of McGowan’s characterizations of incidents. Additionally, it denies allegations that Johnson committed sexual assault or racial harassment, and claims that McGowan did not experience retaliation for reporting and opposing alleged incidents of sexual assault and racial harassment.

Lawsuit brought by WPD sergeant alleges sexual assault, racial harassment by Williamstown Police Chief and unnamed officers

A sergeant at the Williamstown Police Department (WPD), Scott McGowan, filed a federal lawsuit today against the Department, WPD Chief Kyle Johnson, Williamstown Town Manager Jason Hoch and the Town of Williamstown for what McGowan described as retaliation against McGowan for reporting instances of racial harassment and sexual assault allegedly committed by both unnamed WPD officers and Johnson.

WPD use of force policy falls behind advocates’ benchmarks, six reported uses of force in past two years

A Record review of the Williamstown Police Department’s use of force practices revealed six officially reported uses of force in the past two years and an official use of force policy that does not meet several of the benchmarks set by anti-police violence advocates. The policy is currently being revised through an internal review, according to Williamstown Police Chief Kyle Johnson.

Williamstown protest calls attention to anti-Black racism, policing in Berkshires

As chants of “no justice, no peace” and “No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA” erupted in Field Park, drivers passing by the roundabout honked their horns in support, many stopping to pump their fists or to shout words of affirmation. 

Hundreds attended a Williamstown protest on Friday in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, both drawing broad attention to police violence and anti-Black racism nationwide, and specifically highlighting policing in the Berkshires. Beyond Williamstown, protests continued across the Berkshires and the country in light of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s killing of George Floyd while in custody. 

Residents of Berkshire County, including students, faculty and staff at the College, gathered in Field Park for the rally, which began at 4:30 p.m. An hour into the rally, dozens of protesters participated in a die-in, lying down on the roundabout for eight minutes and 46 seconds — the amount of time that Chauvin pinned his knee against Floyd’s neck, killing him by asphyxiation.

Presence of state police in Berkshire County grows, as officials cite concerns of ‘outside agitators’

Increased numbers of state police troopers have been stationed in Berkshire County in the past few days as part of a statewide plan responding to what state law enforcement officials say are reports of ‘outside agitators’ moving into rural communities. This plan comes in light of protests in response to a police officer’s killing of George Floyd while in custody, including a peaceful demonstration in Pittsfield attended by hundreds on Saturday. 

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) notified Williamstown Town Manager Jason Hoch ’95 of the plan on Tuesday.

Pandemic generates uncertainty for class of 2020’s post-College plans

The class of 2020 is graduating into a job market that has “literally imploded,” according to Director of the Career Center Don Kjelleren. “We have never seen the labor market unravel that fast as everyone dashed to comply with shelter in place,” he added. 

Given this uncertainty, the watchword for this year’s seniors is adaptability.

Miles Apart: Four stories of the pandemic

A note from the reporters:

In the weeks after students dispersed across the globe in light of the pandemic, the Record sent out a survey to 500 randomly selected students to get a sense of their living situations. We received hundreds of responses, revealing some of the many ways COVID-19 has affected our lives.

Pandemic brings financial uncertainty to students and their families

Jesus Estrada ’20.5 lives with his mother and sister in Huntington Park, Calif. Estrada’s mother provides most of the family’s income, and as an employee at a fast-food chain, she’s classified as an essential worker. But she also has diabetes, a condition that makes her more vulnerable to serious complications from COVID-19.