Tag Archives: Black Lives Matter

Gordy parked in A.I.

Root out racism at City Hall 5-17-16
Rallying for justice before the Worcester City Council Tuesday night! Photo by Bill Coleman
 
Not listening at Worcester City Hall

By Gordon Davis
 
On May 17, 2016, a coalition of individuals and groups held a protest rally outside of Worcester City Hall. The coalition was protesting a racist incident involving a City of Worcester employee – Michael Traynor, Chief Development Officer for the City of Worcester.

On April 1, 2016, Mr. Traynor got out of his car at Worcester City Hall and berated a Black man who was letting his family off on Front Street. Mr. Traynor admits saying to the Black man “Fucking Asshole.” Mr. Traynor denies he called him a “Fucking Asshole Nigger.” The Black man says he did.

There was an investigation by the Chief Diversity Officer of the City of Worcester, Dr. Malika Carter. It was reported that Mr. Traynor admitted to road rage in which he called a Black man a “fucking asshole.”

The City of Worcester has refused to release the investigatory report to the public and has turned away all questions by the media.  

The pretext given by the City is that it cannot release personnel data. This is nonsensical, as an investigatory report is not a personnel record and the City of Worcester has already released personnel data of Black people working for Mosaic.

The racist double standard is that Black workers who never worked for the City have their personnel records made public, while the Traynor investigatory report is kept secret. 

The coalition rallied outside in front of City Hall for 45 minutes and then spoke at the Worcester City Council meeting about the petition it had submitted. The petition was to make it City policy to release to the public all investigatory reports regarding City of Worcester employees accused of racist activities.

The petition was “filed” by City Councilor Michael Gaffney – the equivalent of being thrown into a bureaucratic waste bin. The City has refused to release other public records, such as records of complaints about racist incidents allegedly committed by the Worcester police.

One of the speakers for the coalition Tuesday night – me! – was surprised when Mayor Joe Petty gaveled me when I quoted the words admittedly used by Mr. Traynor: “fucking asshole.” This was surprising, as the Mayor cautioned me, and I was merely quoting Mr. Traynor! The Mayor never criticized Mr. Traynor for using those words when speaking to a City of Worcester resident.

Many people consider City Councilor Gaffney to be a racist for his insistence that a Black social service agency be audited while doing nothing when charges of illicit financial activity in the Police Summer Project are brought to his attention.

I believe Mr. Traynor used a racial slur in a road rage incident while working for the City of Worcester. Even if he did not utter the racial slur and only called the Black man a “fucking asshole” that is unprofessional behavior which could warrant a termination. City Manager Ed Augustus chooses to protect Traynor.

I will not be surprised when people start to say they are afraid to walk into Worcester City Hall because of possible unprofessional behavior of City employees. Instead of heading off this toxic behavior, City Manager Augustus – by his action and inactions – is fueling it.

Gordon is parked in yum yums … Worcester discussions on race still a joke  

By Gordon Davis

Bait and switch came to mind as I sat listening last night to the speakers at the City of Worcester’s race dialogue sponsored by the City Manager’s Committee against Bias and Hate. Although billed as a discussion of race and a summary of the notes collected during Worcester’s summertime hearings on race, which were conducted by the Department of Justice, it was only a rah-rah session for Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus. He spoke for a long time about the things he has done. Neither the City Manager nor any of the scheduled speakers said a single word about or used the phrase “BlackLives Matter.”

Many in the City are either afraid of or disagree with BlackLives Matters. This is sad, as even the Presidential candidates have spoken to the issues.

City Manager Augustus spoke of the Chief Diversity Officer he has hired, Dr. Malika Carter. She was in the audience and, curiously, not at the speakers’ table.

This is not a good sign, as many Black women in City government have been marginalized and forced out. I wish her good fortune and success.

The City Manager then spoke of the sensitivity training that Worcester police officers have undergone. He did not say anything about transparency of Worcester police policies and misconduct. These remain secret and unavailable for public scrutiny.

The other speakers were from private agencies and non-profit organizations. They all said the right things, and I have to also say that they do good work, given their limited resources and mission statements.

The most interesting and, I think, useful of the non-profits is Community Legal Aid (CLA). It helps people with their civil cases such as housing, unemployment and discrimination. Valerie Zolezzi-Wynham, managing attorney, spoke how CLA diversified its staff and hired an outreach attorney specifically for the Asian community which has not much used CLA’s services. It also hired an Educational Attorney to help students with their cases and “level the playing field.”

Mabel Milner is the chair of the City Manager’s Committee against Bias and Hate. This Committee organized the meeting. Ms. Milner facilitated the meeting.  According to the City Manager, her Committee has been enlarged to be more inclusive.

Ms. Milner indicated that Reverend Tally, the minister at the AME ZION Church, heads a subcommittee that reviewed the notes from last summer DOJ hearings.

Rev. Tally apologized for the lateness of the summary and said that the review of the notes was not complete. He pointed out that the raw information could be found on the City of Worcester’s website.

The speaker for the NAACP, Pat Yancy, indicated that it had held a demonstration when a hangman’s noose was seen at the Post Office in the Denholm Building and that it held a support service for the Black church goers killed in South Carolina.

Members of the Progressive Labor Party had passed out flyers with five demands to fight racism in Worcester:

Transparency of Worcester Police policies and misconduct

Stop arresting students at schools

Fully funded Public Schools

Jobs for Worcester residents

End City of Worcester use of police force against BlackLives Matter and the poor

Reverend Tally promised the audience that there will be more discussions like the one last night.

I hope he is wrong.

The meeting was a joke on the people of Worcester. 

Like the DOJ hearings during the summer, people who should have attended the meeting boycotted it.

The words that needed to be said were not said.

Leadership is needed in this city. Many people in leadership positions are just misguided or pretending.

Gordon’s parked in A.I! … War Crimes, Mr. Trump and Worcester’s Mr. Hoar

By Gordon Davis

Recently Presidential candidate Donald Trump said he would authorize the use of torture (waterboarding) by American forces. Torture is forbidden by international law; it is a war crime and a crime against humanity.

Trump subsequently doubled down on his commitment to torture. He now says he would execute Muslim prisoners by firing squad with bullets dipped in pork. Summary execution also is a war crime. Some Muslims believe that they cannot enter Heaven when their bodies are polluted with pork.

Former President George W. Bush has an arrest warrant against him by the World Court for his authorization of waterboarding torture. This is the reason that he rarely leaves the boundaries of the United States. Like what happened to the fascist Allende, a country recognizing the World Court could arrest Mr. Bush.

The crime of executing Muslims with bullets dipped in pork is not new to Mr. Trump.  The American General Pershing during his tours of duty in the Philippine American War was rumored to have committed this crime several times.

The Philippines American War is little known, although some estimates are that close to 500,000 Filipinos were killed.  The southern Philippines have had a majority Muslim population that resisted the American occupation.

In contrast to Trump and Bush is Worcester’s George Frisbee Hoar. Mr. Hoar moved to Worcester in the early 19th Century. He, similarly to Samuel Clemens, opposed the Spanish American War and the American occupation of the Philippines. He thought it to be Imperialism. Mr. Hoar was a member of a commission that found that Americans had committed war crimes during the Philippine American War.

When George Hoar came to Worcester he became a Free Soiler. He opposed the expansion of slavery into the so called American territories. With the establishment of the anti-slavery Republican Party Mr. Hoar joined it early on.

Hoar fought for the rights of Black people and Native Indians. He also sided with those in favor of equal rights for women.  He defended Italians who were immigrating into New England and he opposed the Chinese Exclusion Act.

Worcester Polytechnic Institute can claim Mr. Hoar as a founding member. Like most Republicans of that time, he was a supporter of industrialization.

A statue of Mr. Hoar graces our City Common, here in Worcester.

Hoar

The anti-war movement went silent during the Presidency of Barack Obama, even though there were American wars through his time in office.

With the election of a Hoar like Senator Sanders the anti war movement will again find it difficult to act.

I suspect that should Mr. Trump be elected to the Presidency of the United States, there will be more wars. Like President Obama, Trump will be constricted by material conditions. I think the anti-war movement will be revitalized, using the Blacklives movement as a model.

During the 1960s there was a confluence of the old civil rights movement and the anti-war movement. Dr. King and Malcolm X were some in the leadership of this confluence. 

It is not clear what the new leadership will look like in the fight against war and for economic and social justice in the 21st Century.

The Black Panthers’ Influence in Worcester  

By Gordon Davis
 
The recent showing of the Black Panther Party documentary on the Public Broadcasting System reminded me of the late 1960s when the Black Student Union of Holy Cross college marched to the Worcester police station on Waldo Street to protest police brutality against a Black teenager, “Patsy.”

As I watched the documentary, memories of the Black Coalition Party in Worcester came flooding back. It was formed in the early 1970s, after the so called Kitty Kat incident. The Kitty Kat was a Black owned night club on Main Street that doubled as a meeting place for the Black community.

During the summer of 1971 Paul, a young Black man, was severely beaten by the police in Worcester.

Some in the Black community came together at the Kitty Kat Lounge.  From the Kitty Kat a march to the Worcester City Council meeting was organized. There were reports that some of the marchers broke windows; true or not, the police began to arrest people.

It is said that the Worcester City Councilors were informed of the march and fled the scene.

After the march, the Black Coalition was formed. In many ways it was an umbrella group and it included some White people. As is the history of most umbrella groups, the Black Coalition had fewer and fewer people come to meetings. Soon it became a smaller group of the more militant and committed. This smaller group became the Black Coalition Party.

The Black Coalition Party modeled itself after the Black Panthers. We were armed and patrolled the neighborhood. We held several rallies, including one which had a starting point near what used to be Gilreins Bar and Grill and another starting point in the Laurel Clayton neighborhood.

Like with the Black Panthers, there were social programs such as the sickle cell anemia testing program which we coordinated with the City of Worcester. The program worked so well that we were offered a grant to continue these programs.  The grant was not accepted.

The Free Breakfast for Children program was supported by the Black Coalition Party, but we did not organize it. As I remember it, Anne Marie organized the Breakfasts in Main South and Ed organized the Breakfasts at Our Lady of Fatima Church. Neither organizer was in the Black Coalition Party.

The Black Coalition Party had an outlook of community organizing of working people. This was in contrast to the line of the Black Panther Party which was to emphasize what some called the Lumpenproletariat or exploiters.  Our view of the Lumpenproletariat was that they were working people who made mistakes. The differences were mostly of emphasis. To some extent these differences in outlook exist today.

Several people in the Black Coalition continued their fight against police brutality and misconduct in the Peace Coalition formed in 1993.  Like with the Kitty Kat incident in 1970s the community became outraged at the homicide of an El Salvadorian man by the police. The Co-Chair of the Rainbow Coalition, Delanot, called for a protest at the police station.

There was a meeting at Centro from which a march was organized. The marchers went to the Worcester City Council meeting which was suspended by then Mayor Jordan Levy when the group showed up.

The Peace Coalition was an umbrella group that did not want to use the term “racist terror.” Many in the group fell away when the City said the police were not guilty of any wrong doing. The more militant people in the Peace Coalition formed the Justice for Cristino Hernandez Committee to carry on the struggle until the City of Worcester reached a settlement with the Hernandez family.

Beyonce’s performance at the Super Bowl had more impact when she stated it was in support of the BlackLives Matter and in tribute to the Black Panthers. When I first saw the performance, I thought it was gimmicky. I underestimated the reaction.

One can say the BlackLives Matter new civil rights movement in Worcester has been influenced by the Black Panthers.  The Progressive Labor Party, Community United Collective, Socialist Alternative and others are continuing the fight for racial and economic justice.

The Panthers – for all of their faults – are the model for young people of color to free their minds from the mental slavery of the system stacked against them.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day breakfasts have become the pretty faces for the liberals – the face of struggle without the struggle … or: The march to Kelley Square, the New Civil Rights Movement and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

By Gordon Davis

There were two celebrations on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in Worcester:

There was the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast at Quinsigamond Community College on West Boylston Street. At this event an activist, Chris Horton, from the Worcester Anti Foreclosure Team, was slammed to the ground and arrested by police after he started to hand out flyers about predatory lending.

Mr. Horton was allegedly arrested when the MLK Breakfast organizers called the police to force him to stop passing out the flyer. The police charged Mr. Horton with assault and battery on a police officer.

It really did not matter whether Mr. Horton touched a police officer – once a police officer slams you to the ground, there is an automatic charge of assault and battery.

The other celebration in Worcester of Martin Luther King Jr. Day was the March Against Racism at Kelley Square:

Between 60 and 80 people marched down Green Street to Kelly Square. The location was chosen because four Black Lives Matter protesters were arrested there on MLK Day in 2015. They are still on trial.

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The march to Kelly Square was organized by radical organizations, much like during the old Civil Rights Movement NAACP and SNCC.  The Progressive Labor, Socialist Alternative, Communities United Collective and Worcester Immigrants Coalition were the main organizing groups. Although diverse, the groups had a common goal of anti-racism, anti sexism, ending racist deportation and economic justice for all. It was clear that this group would not be intimidated by any retaliation by city government.

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EPOCA is working to abolish the
$500 fee that is required to obtain a license by ex-prisoners.

Although not an organizer of the march, EPOCA an ex prisoner support group, joined the rally. The speaker from EPOCA talked of the racism and discrimination experienced by many ex prisoners. She also talk of its effort to abolish the $500 fee that is required to obtain a license by an ex prisoner, an almost prohibitive barrier for some.

Many people today do not remember or do not associate the urban rebellions of the 1960s with the old Civil Rights movement.

When Dr. King attempted to organize northern Black people in the cities he was rudely made aware of the militancy that created the Black Panther Party, Malcolm X and the Worcester Black Coalition.

I suppose Dr. King expected the White racism he faced in Cicero, Illinois. He could not have expected that young Black people in Watts would call him Martin “Loser” King.

The old Civil Rights movement in the South was to some extent prettified with men in suits and religious people (all good and brave people). The men in dungarees and those who spoke Geechee were only seen in the background. Dr. King eventually understood the contradictions of such tactics and began to support working-class and poor people, such as the garbage men and their strike in Tennessee. He was in Tennessee supporting them when he was assassinated.

To some extent the Martin Luther King Jr. Day breakfasts have become the pretty faces for the liberals – the face of struggle without the struggle.

Please do not get the wrong idea: I think that the people doing these things are good people and well intentioned. I know most of them and I consider them my friends. I am sure some of them would like to disassociate themselves from the new militancy of the BlackLives Matter. This has certainly been the case with some “liberal” people.

BlackLives Matter new Civil Rights movement has given a new face to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Worcester and in the nation.

The blockade of Kelly Square in 2015 by people protesting the killing of Michael Brown by the police added a sharpness and militancy to Dr. King’s Day that has continued through the year in Worcester and many cities and towns in America.

This militancy continued on January 18, 2016, when a coalition of groups and individuals marched against racism at Kelly Square calling out the city government and its police force. It was an action that joined Worcester to the BlackLives Matter civil rights movement.

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A LETTER TO DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.

I’m re-posting this wonderful column ICT contributing writer Parlee wrote last year in honor of MLK, Jr. – prophet of PEACE. Enjoy!
– R. Tirella

By Parlee Jones

“In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

– MLK, Jr.

Dear Dr. King,

As we prepare to celebrate your 8[7]th birthday, and also, the 5[1]st Anniversary of the Selma marches, I thought I would write you a letter, to let you know what’s been going on.

I have been thinking a lot about the civil rights movement and the protests that have been happening since the no indictment verdicts came in Ferguson, Missouri, after the murder of Michael Brown and in the murder of Eric Garner at the hands of the NYPD.

Some people are asking, why are they protesting, what do they want? What do they think protesting and shutting down city streets will do?

My response: What did Dr. King and his supporters think a bus boycott would do? What did they think a 50-mile march would do?

The bus boycott lasted 381 days. For one year and 16 days Black people in Montgomery, Alabama, did not use public transportation! Needless to say, that hit the city in the pocket-book. City officials resisted a long time. Them good old boys did not want those Black folks in the front of their buses. Really!

“Initially, the demands did not include changing the segregation laws; rather, the group demanded courtesy, the hiring of black drivers, and a first-come, first-seated policy, with whites entering and filling seats from the front and African Americans from the rear.

Although African Americans represented at least 75 percent of Montgomery’s bus ridership, the city resisted complying with the demands. To ensure the boycott could be sustained, black leaders organized carpools, and the city’s African-American taxi drivers charged only 10 cents-the same price as bus fare-for African-American riders. Many black residents chose simply to walk to work and other destinations. Black leaders organized regular mass meetings to keep African-American residents mobilized around the boycott.”

This is so powerful!

And then Selma, 10 years later!

Even after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbade discrimination in voting on the basis of race, efforts to register black voters met with fierce resistance in southern states such as Alabama .

In early 1965, you and SCLC decided to make Selma, located in Dallas County, Alabama, the focus of a voter registration campaign.

As you well know, Alabama Governor George Wallace was a notorious opponent of desegregation, and the local county sheriff in Dallas County had led a steadfast opposition to black voter registration drives. As a result, only 2 percent of Selma’s eligible black voters (300 out of 15,000) had managed to register.

You won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, and you drew international attention to Selma during the eventful months that followed.

On February 18, white segregationists attacked a group of peaceful demonstrators in the nearby town of Marion. In the ensuing chaos, an Alabama state trooper fatally shot Jimmie Lee Jackson, a young African-American demonstrator. In response to Jackson’s death a massive protest march from Selma to the state capitol of Montgomery, 54 miles away was planned. A group of 600 people set out on Sunday, March 7, but didn’t get far before Alabama state troopers wielding whips, nightsticks and tear gas rushed the group at the Edmund Pettis Bridge and beat them back to Selma. The brutal scene was captured on television, enraging many Americans and drawing civil rights and religious leaders of all faiths to Selma in protest.

You also led another attempt to march on March 9, but turned the marchers around when state troopers again blocked the road.

That night, a group of segregationists beat another protester, the young white minister James Reeb, to death.

Alabama state officials (led by Walllace) tried to prevent the march from going forward, but a U.S. district court judge ordered them to permit it. President Lyndon Johnson also backed the marchers, going on national television to pledge his support and lobby for passage of new voting rights legislation he was introducing in Congress.

Some 2,000 people set out from Selma on March 21, protected by U.S. Army troops and Alabama National Guard forces that Johnson had ordered under federal control.

After walking some 12 hours a day and sleeping in fields along the way, they reached Montgomery on March 25.

Nearly 50,000 supporters-black and white-met the marchers in Montgomery, where they gathered in front of the state capitol to hear you and other speakers including Ralph Bunche (winner of the 1950 Nobel Peace Prize) address the crowd.

“No tide of racism can stop us,” you proclaimed from the building’s steps, as viewers from around the world watched the historic moment on television.

A movie based on the events of SELMA [was released last year]. Can’t wait to see it with my children, family, friends and their children. Because this is a piece of history from which we need to learn.

“We are faced with marches, protests and boycotts as we face the continued brutality of the police force against young people of color, who end up dead instead of in jail. Not only people of color, but the majority are.
We are developing a network of organizations and advocates to form a national policy specifically aimed at redressing the systemic pattern of anti-black law enforcement violence in the US. We are demanding, that the federal government discontinues it’s supply of military weaponry and equipment to local law enforcement. We are advocating for a decrease in law-enforcement spending at the local, state and federal levels and a reinvestment of that budgeted money into the black communities most devastated by poverty in order to create jobs, housing and schools. This money should be redirected to those federal departments charged with providing employment, housing and educational services.” www.BlackLivesMatter.com

Dr. King, the exposure of the injustices via the internet is world wide. It is so hurtful when these police officers are not found guilty of murder, when the murder took place in front of millions of people.

We are still striving to do this non-violently, but the blind are still so blind. We have our demands and are voting and trying to work through the system. A lot of our friends are still silent. We are trying to help our White allies understand their privilege. We are tired of burying our children. Things have improved since the 1950s and 1960s but, unfortunately, we still have a long way to go.

Happy Birthday, Dr. King! Your words still ring true in this day and time. We need your spirit with us, to help guide us, more than ever! Please stay near.

Peace and Blessings,

Parlee Jones

Black Lives Matter! Kelley Square! MLK Jr. Day! Be there!

This just in!

– R.T.

The date of this march and rally was chosen to send a message to the City Manager that his disparate and retaliatory treatment of BlackLives Matter protesters will not intimidate the New Civil Rights movement.

Monday – January 18

12 Noon

                                   Assemble in front of  St. John’s Church, Temple Street …          

March to Kelly Square …
 
A coalition of local organizations, including Mass. Human Rights, Progressive Labor Party, Socialist Alternative, Communities United Collective, Worcester Immigrants Coalition and others will march and rally against racism in Worcester and nationally. 
 
Mass. Human Rights is opposing the school-to-jail policies of Worcester.

Progressive Labor Party is opposing the profit system that supports classism and racism.

Socialist Alternative is opposing the racist retaliation by the City of Worcester against the Black Lives Matter protesters. It also supports a $15/hour minimum wage.

Worcester Immigration Coalition is opposing racist immigration policies and deportations.

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.