Tag Archives: Black Lives Matter protest at Kelley Square

Black lives matter! BLACK LIVES MATTER!

Political Trial 3 (1)
photo: 2015

editor’s note: I’ve made some paragraphs bold. – R.T.

A Bogus Trial of Retaliation

By Gordon Davis
 
The Kelley Square 4 BlackLives Matter protesters charged with disturbing the peace during the 2015 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day protest had their day in court today. It was pretty clear from the start of the trial that something unusually wrong was going on.

The trial judge prevented the defendants from having a jury trial. He said case law allowed him to change the nature of the case from criminal to civil.

In a criminal case the defendants can choose a jury trial. In a civil case the prosecution can choose not to have a jury trial. In either case, it can be inferred that the trial judge did not want to go through the hassle of a jury trial or he did not think that the charges rose to the level of criminality.

In a civil case, the prosecution only has to achieve the standard of “preponderance of evidence” and not the more difficult standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The prosecution witnesses were, in my opinion, not credible and perhaps racists.

The truck driver said he was five hours late for a delivery due to the four and one half minutes blocking of Kelley Square. He said this got him fired from his job. Another witness said that the driver’s firing had nothing to do with the Kelley Square demonstration.

A woman driver who encountered the demonstration testified to yelling out to the protesters you would not block me if my granddaughter was Black. This witness could recognize a photo that showed her car during the protest. 

Worcester Police Department supervisor, Sergeant  Maddox, said he would not have arrested anyone at the Kelley Square demonstration – as he did not see anything criminal taking place.

Police Officer Maddox said he did not start to write his report until two and one half months after the incident, when ordered to do so by his superiors.

Maddox then said his report was partially based on a police report written by Worcester Police Officer Brace who did not testify.

Two of the defendants, Julius Jones and Robert Gibbs, gave as a defense their compelling political need to protest the unjust killings of people, especially unarmed young Black men. Defendant Kevin Ksen also spoke of his political motivations and the fact that he did not block any traffic. Defendant Conner did not testify, but her attorney indicated that Officer Brace misidentified her and there was no evidence that she blocked traffic.

The Worcester city officials who initiated the charges against the defendants did not testify.

There is speculation that they brought charges in order to retaliate against and intimidate BlackLives Matter protesters and the Black community.

The judge said he will mail out his decision to the KS4 defendants. The maximum for a civil case of disturbing the peace is a fine of $150.

There were a good number of people who came out in support of the BlackLives Matter protesters. They expressed a sentiment that no matter what the judge rules, the protests would continue and they would not be intimidated.

A March Against Racism is being planned for this year’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – January 18, 2016 – at 12 Noon. 

The march will go from St. John’s Church on Temple Street to Kelley Square.

Kelley Square Black Lives Matter protesters in court today …

By Gordon Davis

About 50 people came out to the Worcester County Courthouse today and gave support to the Worcester 4 Kelly Square protesters. Most people stood outside the courthouse holding signs regarding BlackLives Matter.

The trial judge hearing the case of the protectors said several things of interest. He said no one in the court could wear a shirt with a message on it. Apparently, one of the defendants had a sweat shirt with “Black Lives Matter“ written on it.  A bailiff brought this to the judge’s attention. There was an objection raised by several of the defense attorneys. The judge then said to be fair he would allow policemen to wear suits and ties.  It is not clear how this is equivocal, or perhaps, he was joking.

The same Judge seemed to be surprised when the defense attorneys present up to 40 preemptory jury questions in a process called voir doire.  The judge did not like some of the questions, especially questions regarding BlackLives Matter, race, and the Ferguson Effect. Although he seemed biased against allowing the issue of race in the voir doire, the Supreme Court of the United States in this 2015-2016 session will hear arguments about whether race is a legitimate preemptory question.  Prosecutors in several states have opposed Black jurors and impaneled all White juries.

The trial judge said he would review the questions and give a ruling on which questions he would allow on December 15, 2015. On that date the jury will be selected. There was agreement that 50 to 60 potential jurors would be needed to impanel a jury for the case. The actual trial, with opening statements, will begin sometime in January 2016.

Curiously, the Judge mentioned the so called Worcester Panhandling case that is now in Appeals Court.  It is being reevaluated in light of the Supreme Court Ruling allowing panhandling in Lowell. The Judge said panhandling is free speech, but the people could not step off the sidewalk to do it. He also said political sign holders might be a danger to the public or a safety issue, if they stayed on the sidewalk and just waved at people in cars.  Is this judge giving the green light for the arrest of political sign holders?  

The implications of this trial are grave and could, like the panhandling case, make its way to the United States Supreme Court.

Sometimes it seemed that the Assistant DA acted as if the Judge would favor him no matter what. In regards to a Motion from the defense  about misidentification of one of the defendants, the Assistant DA was unprepared and did not have his opposition argument with him. He said it was downstairs.  The Judge gave him time to get it. The Assistant DA came back empty handed. One could speculate that he did not write or have the Opposition Memo.  The Judge could have allowed the Motion, as the DA had no opposition to it in court. Instead, the Judge told the Assistant DA to get it to him as soon as he could.

A mistake was made by the Judge in his thinking that the Kelley Square protesters had blocked an ambulance.

This mistake showed prejudice on his part. He had come to a conclusion without evidence. He seemed to additionally err in his thinking on whether the disturbing peace statute contains a “legitimate purpose” clause.

This trial will have an impact in Worcester and Massachusetts. It too may find its way to the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts to get resolved. 

My Impromptu meeting with Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus

Augustus
Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus. photo: Bill Coleman

By Gordon Davis

I met Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus for the first time Saturday, October 24, 2015. I was standing outside of the Belmont AME Zion Church in Worcester. Mr. Augustus walked by on his way to the NAACP forum on education. As most people know by now I am legally blind, with only reduced sight in one eye. For that reason I did not recognize the city manager. I said to him: “I think I know you.”

Mr. Augustus identified himself, and then to my surprise he said, “You are Gordon Davis and you write hateful things about me.”

I thought politicians have thicker skins and do not get upset about things written about them.

I responded that I never wrote any thing hateful about him.

I challenged him to cite one example of any hate speech or even anything personal about him.

Mr. Augustus said he could not at the moment think of anything hateful that I had said about him.

I said I thought he was maliciously prosecuting the four BlackLives Matter protesters.

He said the courts would decide the issue. Then he went into this monologue about how Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. went to jail and that protesters should go to jail. 

My wife reminded me as we stood talking to Mr. Augustus not to lose my temper. So Mr. Augustus and I started a back and forth on the issue.

Mr. Augustus said the Black Lives Matter protesters disturbed the peace at Kelley Square because the truck driver was “inching into the protester.”

I told Mr. Augustus that the truck driver’s “inching” was a form of assault.

Mr. Augustus said the driver was provoked by the presence of the Black Lives Matter protester.

I told Mr. Augustus that provocation was not a defense for assault. 

You can not hit or threaten someone because he calls you a name. You can not claim that there is a disturbance of the peace because people hold a sign saying “BlackLives Matters.”

The issue of the lack of prosecution of the dog owners in Worcester’s Boynton Park was brought up by my wife.

She said the City of Worcester knows the name of the violators at Boynton Park and that they provoked the City of Worcester worker.

At Boynton Park, the City brought charges against a City of Worcester worker driving a truck in Boynton Park – but not against the truck driver at Kelly Square.

Mr. August said that was different, but he did not give an explanation as to how it was different.

Mr. Augustus offered three different rationales for the City of Worcester seeking charges against the Kelley Square protesters:

The first was that the City of Worcester offered the protesters a deal that amounted to extortion; don’t protest again and the City will not seek charges.

The second is the Worcester Police saying it saw a video.

The third is Mr. Augustus’ comment that protesters should go to jail like Dr. King.

My first impression of Mr. Augustus is that he is thin-skinned and he holds grudges.

He is not above using state power to get his way – even if that use of power is marginally legitimate and possible unlawful.

I think that the defense attorneys for the Bkack Lives Matter protesters at Kelley Square should call on Mr. Augustus and Worcester Police Chief Gary Gemme to testify under oath on November 9, 2015, to get evidence on how they formed the decision to seek charges against the protesters.

This information should be made public.

I think a jury might see the malicious prosecution by City Manger Augustus and Police Chief Gemme. Evidence of this possible malicious prosecution could be dispositive and help a jury understand the case better.

Black Lives Matter and Worcester Elections

By Gordon Davis

The elections in Worcester have been affected by the new civil rights movement Black Lives Matter.

Its effects are also being felt nationally. The effects are not always as obviously dramatic as incumbent Worcester City Coucilors not making the cut off of twelfth place on the Worcester ballot, but the effects are seen in new ways racism has played a direct role.  To a large extent the entire election season has been framed by racial issues not only in Worcester, but in the campaigns of Clinton, Stein, Sanders and Trump.

The race issue has been brought to the front by Black Lives Matter. There has been a wall of color blindness in past Worcester elections and other important issues, such as jobs and education. For example, many people still feel that the killing of Cristino Hernandez was not a racial issue; other people turned a color blind eye to the issues of disparate unemployment among dark skin people (people of color). Today the City of Worcester is working hard to pretend its policies of police accountability, jobs and education are not racially disparate. Just look at the fact that the City of Worcester has dissolved the Affirmative Action Committee and replaced it with a Diversity Committee which has nebulous responsibilities.

Black Lives Matter has changed most of this color blindness pretext for racially disparate policies.  When Worcester City Councilors Michael Gaffney and Gary Rosen got up on the council floor and said that they wanted an audit of Mosaic (a center in the poorest Worcester neighborhood) and that it is not an issue of racist retaliation, everyone in the City knows something different. These racists are some of the people whom Worcester City Councilor Konnie Lukes calls the “Trumps Effect” on which she is counting on to send her back to the Worcester City Council.  It has been made clear to many in the Black and Latino communities which politicians are pretending to be against racism and who is using racism to whip up the “Trump  Effect.”

Black Lives Matter has changed temporarily the way the police respond to complaints from the public. The police are more courteous and responsive for now. The police are will adapt transparency as a policy, as seen in the Worcester Police Department. The Massachusetts State Police has been named the most secretive police department in the country.  The City of Worcester’s malicious prosecution of the Black Lives Matter protesters shows that the powers-that-be are afraid of mass demonstrations and disruptions.

Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus and Worcester Police Chief Gary Gemme have spent a lot of time and money in the courts. These disturbances of the peace will likely happen again in the near future, as the police are likely to return to their old ways. The chant of Black Lives Matter and others of “No Justice, No Peace” has taken on new and significant meaning.

Black Lives Matter exposed City Manager Augustus for the pretender that he is. He could have negotiated with the Kelley Square protesters about real change in the City’s policies; instead he retaliated against them on the most frivolous and non-existent evidence. The City Manager then came out with a 28 point plan that is just a shell game shifting responsibilities from one department to another. Worse still the Manager initiated a laughing stock known as the Department of Justice Hearings.

Further to be said regarding the elections in Worcester: some people stepped forward to replace the old backward thinking incumbents. Black Lives Matter created the environment that allowed 11 people from the Black, Latino and Asian communities to believe they have a chance of effectuating change through Worcester City Council service. Unfortunately, many candidates did not make the required twelfth place preliminary for the at-large election or the second place finish for the district elections.

A takeaway from the Worcester preliminary election is that people of color will unlikely win elections in districts in which White people are a majority. There have been some exceptions: all women of color candidates have won at large elections.  No men of color have won any election since Charles Scott did so in the 1910s.

Based on my knowledge and belief there are only two districts where there are large enough so called minority’s voters to affect an election: The first is Sarai Rivera’s district 4 council district where she defeated Barbara Haller some years ago. The second district is Mary Keefe’s state representative district.

The effects of Black Lives Matter on society are not over and have not been fully felt.

Hillary and Worcester’s Julius!

Just a snippet!

Yes, Julius, we need to hold our people’s feet to the fire! But if the Repugs win the presidential election, it’ll be a bazillion times crappier for folks of color and poor people in America! Educate our side! Be specific! Illuminate!!!

– R. Tirella

Trial of the four Worcester Black Lives Matter demonstrators – an update

By Gordon Davis

In Court Room 14 of Worcester District Court four protesters associated with the Black Lives Matter civil rights movement were arraigned today for disturbing the peace.

Their charges stem from the demonstration in a cross walk that ran through part of the Kelly Square intersection in Worcester.

At the arraignment each of the four defendants pled “not guilty” and was released on their own recognizance.

The attorneys for the respective parties agreed to a pretrial hearing date of July 19, 2015, at which possible resolution could be discussed, as well as evidential issues.

The City of Worcester ordinance under which they were charged is the following:

§ 1. Disorderly Behavior No person shall engage in fighting, threatening or violent or tumultuous behavior; or conduct that creates a riotous commotion and excessively unreasonable noise so as to constitute a public nuisance; or conduct that creates a hazardous or physically offensive condition; which behavior or conduct has the purpose of causing public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof, and which serves no legitimate purpose of the actor.

The defense attorneys indicated that a possible defense is the element of the ordinance that calls for “legitimate purpose.”

The reasoning is that the protesters were exercising their freedom of speech.

This is a constitutionally defined legitimate purpose. According to one of the defense attorneys, several courts have upheld freedom of speech as a legitimate purpose.  

The term is not defined in the Worcester City ordinances. A different defense attorney indicated that might be other defenses.

Each of the defense attorneys indicated that he would file a motion to dismiss before the July 19, 2015, pretrial hearing.

The schedule of Department of Justice hearings on race and Worcester

ALL OF these public hearings are scheduled for:

Mondays ………. 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

BE THERE!

May 18:

Overview of dialogue process and setting the stage for dialogue

YWCA of Central Massachusetts, 1 Salem Square

June 1:

Representative Government

Quinsigamond Community College, 670 W Boylston St.

June 8:

Public Safety

Belmont AME Zion Church, 55 Illinois St.

June 15:

Youth and Education

Worcester Technical High School, 1 Skyline Drive (tentative)

June 22:

Media and Online Social Networks

JCC – Jewish Community Center, 633 Salisbury St.

June 29:

Economic Development

Friendly House, 36 Wall St.

July 13:

Report back and next steps

Worcester City Hall, 455 Main St.

PLEASE ATTEND THESE MEETINGS! 

SPEAK UP! Speak out!!

For more information, contact humanrights@worcesterma.gov or call 508-799-1152.

The tale of the tapes: 4 other police officers allegedly witnessed beating of prisoner

By Gordon Davis

A Worcester police officer, Michael Motyka, was arrested recently in Worcester for allegedly violating the civil rights of a Black man being held in the lockup at the Worcester Police Station on Belmont Street. He allegedly beat the handcuffed and shackled victim while calling him racial slurs.

The incident took place in December 2014 and was videotaped by the cameras in the police lock-up.

The Worcester District Attorney’s office has refused to release a copy of the tape to the public.

The spokesman for the DA stated that a special prosecutor will be appointed and that it is policy not to release tapes of criminal acts until after a trial.

The problem with this policy, for this case, is that at least four other police officers allegedly witnessed the beating of the victim by officer Motyka.

And did nothing.

The issue in this case is not only the civil rights violations by officer Motyka but also the civil rights violations of the officers who allegedly witnessed the beating and racial slurs and did nothing to protect the victim.

This is a civil rights violation in itself and a violation of Worcester Police Department policy – which is under the purview of the City of Worcester. The WPD is funded by the Worcester taxpayer. How is our money being spent?

The tape should be released to the public so the public can review the policies and actions of the Worcester Police Department.

The Worcester Police Department, which is responsible for the tape, has the ability to release it. The WPD should be fully transparent on this issue.

The irony of the tape is that the City of Worcester has spent a lot money and used a lot of resources on another tape roiling Worcester: the videotape of the Black Lives Matter protesters at Kelly Square. Another tape reflecting the way Worcester deals with race/racial issues. The City of Worcester will likely not be able to use this tape in court, as it can not be authenticated. Furthermore, the protesters did not beat up anyone and did not use racial slurs, as in the first tape. 

In the BLM protest tape, a motorist might have been “annoyed.” The BLM protesters never ignored any police commands to “disburse,” as the police were not present at the protest. The protesters disbursed on their own volition.

The BLM protesters look like altar boys compared to the Worcester police officers – recorded on an official WPD videotape. Worcester Police Officer Motyka who allegedly beat the handcuffed and shackled prisoner. And the police officers who stood by – and allegedly did nothing as they witnessed blatant police brutality.

In the case of Motyka, the City of Worcester should suspend the police officers who did nothing while police officer Motyka allegedly beat up a shackled prisoner, until their cases are adjudicated. The Motyka tape is a part of the review of violations of Worcester Police Department policy.

These charges are exponentially worse than the charges against the BLM protesters who might have annoyed a motorist.

A defense for the BLM protesters seems to be “legitimate purpose,” which means that there was a need to bring attention to the misconduct of the Worcester Police. The Motyka case is evidence of the legitimate purpose of the protesters.

There is evidence that the City of Worcester is maliciously prosecuting the protesters. Malicious Prosecution is a civil rights violation and it has four elements : 1. commencement of criminal proceedings, 2. the proceedings are adjudicated in the victims favor, 3. There was not probable cause, 4. The proceeding was brought with malice.

This should be investigated by the Department of Justice when it comes to Worcester.

When I first heard of the arrest of Worcester Police Officer Motyka, I was encouraged,  thinking perhaps Worcester had changed its review of police misconduct.  If the review process is taken more seriously by the City, the protesters at Kelly Square had a lot to do with it. Now I am not sure if there is substantive improvement in Worcester government.

Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty has come out against a civilian review board for the Worcester Police Department, even though Worcester Police Chief Gary Gemme is open to the possibility. It is time that Mayor Petty realizes he is now part of the problem.

Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus’ refusal to drop the charges against the BLM protesters in light of events shows a “business as usual” policy at Worcester City Hall.

Who’s gonna help a brother get further?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5yGVANkaGiM&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Growing stronger every day!

By Gordon Davis

The Community United Collective (CUC) held a rally of 100 people in front of Worcester City Hall yesterday. Although peaceful and relatively small, this rally has had a disproportionately large effect on Worcester:

 A couple of days before the rally, city officials brought out the big guns, threatening to arrest people.

A group of clergy held a press conference to denounce racism and support the Department of Justice coming to Worcester to help the community talk constructively about race.

Worcester city councilors said the Kelley Square Black Lives Matter protesters should be charged with some kind of crime.

A Worcester police officer was arrested for civil rights violations.

After the clergy press conference, Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus said he would drop the charges against the Kelly Square BLM protesters, if they agreed to behave themselves.

Worcester City Councillor Konnie Lukes called for a police Civilian Review Board.

Councillor Lukes also put an item on the city council agenda: to investigate the finances of the Mosaic Center.

No Worcester police officer has ever been arrested for any action he took while on duty.

No Worcester City Councillor in recent history has called for a police civilian review board.

The rally of Community United Collective as a part of the Black (all) Lives Matter new civil rights movement has spurred something of a social upheaval in the City of Worcester.

There were no politicians at the City Hall rally yesterday, not even political candidates. There are 29 candidates seeking seats on the Worcester City Council. There seemed to be no clergy present either. There were street people, there were middle class and working people, there were students, there were radicals, and there were the folks of the peace community.

CUC read a statement that said the group and its friends would not be turned around by Worcester city government, the police, the politicians, and other mis-leaders. There was a question and answer session after the statement.

A member of the CUC said the stories appearing in the Worcester Telegram were inaccurate and possibly intended to intimidate protesters. No protester has been charged as of the date of the rally. Two protesters were being summoned to a Clerk Magistrate Hearing to determine if the City of Worcester has enough evidence to file charges against them.

A spokesman for Progressive Labor Party who has been active in the CUC said income inequalities were one of the material conditions leading to racism and gender disparities.

The Black Lives Matter protests are continuing ALL OVER AMERICA. Yesterday, the Brooklyn Bridge in NYC was blocked, and in Springfield, Mass., a roadway was also blocked.

The discussion about race issues in Worcester is heating up, and it seems that the CUC is not backing down. Let’s see if the City of Worcester can have a candid discussion on race.