SHELTON — City Democrats are forming a task force to address racism.

The Democratic Town Committee Tuesday announced formation of the task force, just days after being spurned in its push for a civilian review board into police complaints.

The move comes in the wake of the death of George Floyd while in police custody and nationwide protests seeking reforms to police procedures on use of force.

DTC Chair David Gioiello said the committee’s statement in support of the protests against racial injustice and its recommendations for actions that could be taken locally to combat institutional and systemic racism is only the beginning.

“We are not stopping with a statement,” said Gioiello. “The SDTC is committed to bring about much-needed changes.”

“When I was on the Board of Education, there were at least three racial incidents brought to our attention,” said Gioiello. “While the schools took some action, real change still needs to occur. At that time, I thought the various churches in town would take the lead. As far as I know, they haven't.”

Gioiello said that several of his committee’s members or a member of their family have experienced racism in Shelton.

“The DTC can be a force for racial justice, and to do that, we need to reach out and change people's concepts,” added Gioiello. “We believe there are many, many good people in town and we can help them give a voice to racial justice and that is one of the goals of the Task Force. A second and internal goal is to make the DTC reflect the Democrats in town, that is diversity by race, age and gender.”

Gioiello said the task force would focus on developing processes to bring diversity not only to the town committee but also to foster a better understanding among residents to help them celebrate diversity and eliminate racism across the city.

“It will take our collective efforts if real changes are to be achieved ... in which people of color are welcomed and seen as valuable additions to our community,” Gioiello said. “Not sure how we can measure that, but we will know it when it happens. If nothing else, no one should ever fear if stopped by the police in Shelton their life is at risk.”

The task force will be chaired by Grace Clark Johnson and Mike Federici and be comprised of six to 10 people from the DTC. Outside members will be determined by the co-chairs, said Gioiello.

Members of the city’s RTC did not respond for a request for comment.

For more information about the SDTC and the Task Force, visit the Facebook page or email sheltondemocrats@gmail.com

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com