The resolution is less than a page long, but the Newport City Council debated it for nearly an hour and a half.

Much of that time was spent discussing the resolution’s proposed requirement that all city employees and City Council members receive implicit bias training. Several council members took issue with this section, at points calling the resolution accusatory and divisive.

“It kind of assumes that Newport is filled with prejudices, and I don’t see that,” said Third Ward Councilor Kathryn Leonard. “I see people who are caring, who give, who want a better community.”

Leonard was ultimately the only member to vote against the resolution, which passed 6-1.

Several supporters of the proposal mentioned an incident on May 19, when a Newport City Council workshop was interrupted by anonymous participants who wrote racist slurs and hate speech in the video chat. First Ward Councilor Angela McCalla was the target of some of this language.

“Do we still think, after all this conversation that we had, that we do not have a problem? When it comes to talking about race, it is often met with hostility, denial, and overall aversion,” McCalla said. “And while I know discussing these issues can be uncomfortable, it is in these moments of discomfort where we learn and grow.”McCalla said the resolution is only the beginning of a conversation about racism in Newport.

“The concept of the implicit bias training is not with the goal of automatically changing people’s minds and flipping a switch in a racist’s mind and making them not racist,” said Newport Mayor Jamie Bova.

“It’s about beginning to examine the systems that we have in place as a government, and how those systems have racism and prejudices within them because they were built by people, and people have implicit biases within them.”