A 17-year old Everett High School student’s courage to speak out at a city council meeting against racism turned into a stunning attempt at intimidation by City Councilor Rosa DiFlorio who confronted the girl after she spoke. It was just another disgraceful chapter in the Everett city council’s response—or lack thereof—to racist comments by Councilor Stephen Simonelli.
Among those who spoke to the city council during the council’s public participation section of the meeting Monday night was Destiny Masse-DiPaolo, a 17-year old high school student. She spoke eloquently about her and her friends’ love for the city of Everett. She also addressed the racist comments made by Simonelli on Facebook in a general sense, not naming Simonelli. After completing her comments and leaving the council chamber, she was confronted by DiFliorio.
“She told me, ‘You need someone to teach you about the First Amendment,’” Destiny said afterward in describing the confrontation. “I told her I know all about the First Amendment.”
According to Masse-DiPaolo, DiFlorio made a jaw-dropping comment about Simonelli. “She told me, ‘I have to treat him like a teacher treats a special needs student.’” Simonelli lost the ability to speak because of a battle with cancer. “I told her, ‘He lost his tongue, not his mind.’”
Masse-DiPaolo’s description of the confrontation with DiFlorio should shock and outrage every citizen of Everett. A city councilor acting like a thug, trying to intimidate a teenager who had the courage to speak out against racism.
DiFlorio responded that she didn’t say what the girl said she did. “That’s not what I said. I encourage her to speak. I explained we are not sweeping anything under the rug. We need to follow rules of the charter. I also mentioned the first amendment.”
DiFlorio should explain herself fully.