top of page

Lancaster's Steps Towards Racial Equity

On Wednesday, August 26th, Mayor Danene Sorace responded to questions from Lancaster Changemakers during a YWCA Community Now panel regarding the movement for racial equity in Lancaster City. A majority of the Mayor’s replies reflected an unwillingness to budge beyond the 18 bullet points in the single-page document of Commitments to Racial Equity put forth by the City.

The document has been criticized by local activists and organizers for being vague and performative, and the Lancaster Changemaker Collective sought to clarify aspects of the document as well as pressure the Mayor to take bolder, more appropriate action to address violent policing and other inequities.

Many of the questions posed to the Mayor expressed a desire for alternatives to police, such as social workers, who the questioners felt would be more adequate at addressing the needs of City residents. The Mayor acknowledged that police are often not ideal responders to crises, and initially attempted to redirect a question on this matter by responding that the County receives all mental health, drug and alcohol and social service funding.

Changemakers were left questioning exactly where the responsibility falls to serve this vulnerable population, and who would be the appropriate representative to see their protection through.

Later in the Question and Answer portion, Sorace was unable to give a clear response as to why the City proposed to add only one additional social worker to service a city of nearly 60,000. The question referenced the budget allocating enough money to the Bureau of Police to payroll 195 full-time employees.

The mayor appeared to read from a prepared statement when responding to a question asking her opinion on the recent protests and petitions pressuring the City to fire Officer Jonathan Caple. Citing police investigations into the matter, Sorace responded “there is no legal justification for terminating or taking other action against Officer Caple.”

However, Officer Caple has been accused of domestic violence and has had a temporary Protection From Abuse order granted against him as recently as 2018. Over 2,300 people have signed a petition calling for his termination since it was posted on in mid-August. Without an opportunity to ask follow up questions, the Changemakers were unable to present this information to the mayor for further refutation.

Sorace stated that she owns pepper spray when asked if use of the substance would be banned after officers used the substance against protestors in June. She affirmed her belief in the utility of pepper spray as a non-lethal alternative to other police weapons. Left unaddressed was the gratuitous use of these chemicals during peaceful demonstrations, where even non-lethal weapons are needless.

When asked how the progress of the City’s initiatives would be measured, the Mayor said she would “be reporting on them on a regular basis” but did not elaborate on what the reports would entail, nor where they’d be available for public access.

Since the format of the panel, a Zoom Video Webinar, did not allow for Changemakers to ask follow up questions, many inquiries went unanswered and evidence was left unrepresented. All questions were submitted live in writing and relayed to Mayor Sorace by the panel’s facilitator, YWCA Lancaster Board Member Kesha Morant Williams. The Changemakers plan to continue efforts to apply political pressure to the mayor and other local elected officials.

Notes and transcription of the questions and answers will be available in the coming days on our blog. A link to a video recording of the panel will be available here and the YWCA’s Lancaster website, and will include the discussion contributions of Tene Darby and Tracy A. Jones who also sat on the panel.

69 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
Post: Blog2 Post
bottom of page