Tag Archives: Department of Justice visits Worcester to hold community meetings on race

From the Worcester NAACP! TOMORROW night! Be there!

Session Seven of DEPT OF JUSTICE Community Dialogues on Race and Worcester 

Focus on: Review, Next Steps

U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz …

and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey …

… to participate in DCU session

The community will gather at 6 p.m. TOMORROW at the DCU Center

to discuss next steps …

U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts Carmen Ortiz, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early, Jr., and Mayor Joseph M. Petty are scheduled to speak.

The session will run from 6-8 p.m., with dinner served at 5 p.m.

 Free child care will be available on-site.

Free parking will be offered at the city’s Major Taylor Garage, 30 Major Taylor Blvd.


From the Worcester NAACP

The Worcester NAACP will not hold our Community/General Membership Meeting today, Monday, June 22.

This is to allow everyone the opportunity to participate in this week’s [Department of Justice] community dialogues concerning “Media and Online Social Networks.”

At Worcester Technical High School

Dialogue begins at 6 p.m.

As a reminder, a light meal will be served from 5 pm – 6 pm

Childcare services will be provided

Shuttle bus service will be available from the bus shelter on Belmont Street (located at the intersection with Skyline Dr.) to Worcester Technical High School between 5:15 pm and 6:15 pm and then back to the bus shelter from 8:15 pm to 9:15 pm.

From the Worcester NAACP …

City announces change of venues for remaining Community Dialogues on Race …

Free WRTA shuttle, free parking to be offered at new sites …

… a change of venues for the last three sessions of the seven-week Community Dialogues on Race series in response to participants’ requests for more space and better acoustics.

The remaining sessions:

Mondays, 6 p.m.-8 p.m.

A meal will be provided from 5 p.m.-6 p.m.

June 22   Media and Online Social Networks

Worcester Technical High School, 1 Skyline Drive

* Free WRTA shuttle from Belmont Street

* June 29 – Economic Development

Worcester Technical High School, 1 Skyline Drive

* Free WRTA shuttle from Belmont Street

July 13  Report back and next steps

at DCU Center showcase corner (intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. and Major Taylor Boulevards)

* Free parking available at the Major Taylor Parking Garage, 30 Major Taylor Boulevard


On June 22 and June 29 the WRTA will provide a free shuttle bus from the bus stop shelter on Belmont Street (at the intersection of Skyline Drive) to the front entrance of the high school.

Riders can pick up the shuttle bus between 5:15 p.m. and 6:15 p.m.

The shuttle will return passengers to the Belmont Street shelter between 8:15 p.m. and 9:15 p.m.

The word “Shuttle” will appear on the banner on the front of the bus.

From the Worcester NAACP …

The U.S. Department of Justice Community Relations Service and the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office along with the the City of Worcester will be hosting the third in a series of seven “Community Dialogues on Race” at Belmont A.M.E. Zion Church, 55 Illinois St., Worcester, TONIGHT at 6 p.m.

This community dialogue will focus on “Public Safety” and is an opportunity for you to come out and share your concerns regarding issues surrounding community policing.

Please make every effort to come out and participate in these sessions.  It is important that all members of the community are part of this process, from shaping the dialogue, to holding our leaders accountable for implementing changes that will improve the lives of all people in our city.

A light meal will be provided and childcare services are available for this session.

Try a little openness

By Ron O’Clair

Department of Justice visits Worcester to hold community meetings on race

DOJ Discussion #2

The participants of the discussion broke off into groups of about a dozen each and went to different areas of the Auditorium at Quinsugamond Community College and even into private rooms to hold discussions based on guidelines prearranged by the City of Worcester Human Rights Commission.

I went into the #8 group which was determined by having been given a random number upon signing in from 1 -12. Each person signing in got a number. After having heard a presentation from the City of Worcester about how the local government works, we all broke off into the separate areas to begin the discussions.

The group I was in had some notable Worcester figures in it, including Dr. Reese the Assistant Principal of Doherty High School, Ronald Scott, Charles E. Scott’s son, and arriving late, a woman who used to be a teacher in the public schools system.

When it came time for the discussion part and the facilitator asked if anyone wanted to say anything, everyone looked around but no one spoke.

I held up my hand and started the discussion off. My contribution was all done, and other people took turns. It was at this point that the retired school teacher entered the room, so she had no idea of anything that I said.

Nearly everyone else in the room had a chance to share their thoughts, and then the lady monopolized the conversation, interjecting “just three more points” when other people wanted to talk. In fact one person who attended sent an email to complain about not having had a chance to talk, blaming the woman who snubbed me for it.

There was a lengthy pause before I started the discussion, he or she had the opportunity to speak then, but chose not to avail themselves of it.

I listened to all she had to say: it was basically a diatribe about prejudice against students of color in the school system, although she mentioned that she was taught as the only black child in a Catholic Schools system. She also mentioned about the Boards and Commissions available for the City of Worcester and about what she perceived as prejudice there also. I took an opportunity to relate that I also had applied for a couple of spots on City of Worcester Boards and Commissions and had been rejected. She flippantly suggested that I was not worthy for those positions with her comment about what I had to say.

I listened to everything she said and was initially impressed enough by what she said that at the end of the discussion period and before we all returned to the Auditorium to hear a recap of the 12 different discussions, I reached out my hand to shake hers.

She declined my offer of a handshake with a look of contempt spread across her features.

I was taken aback a bit, but I figured that perhaps she is one of those people that just do not like physical contact and decline hands offered in friendship.

That was then … after the meeting was breaking up in the Auditorium, I happened to be near that same woman as she was making her way up the aisle and out of the Auditorium. Every single person of color that approached that woman with an offer to shake her hand was met with warmness and affection by the woman. Some people even got hugs.

I was stunned.

I could not help but think that that woman intentionally snubbed me based upon the color of my skin!

What other reason could there have been?

I am an outgoing individual who was the only person in the group # 8 that was involved in the City of Worcester political process, as I am a Candidate for City Councilor At-Large, and I have made it a habit to befriend all people regardless of their ethnicity as I have always done, and I have to tell you, the way that woman snubbed me hurt me.

It seemed to me that she felt that I was beneath her, due to my having been born with “white privilege”!

Our group had a representative of the daily come in and take pictures, and no one made a protest about it. Another group actually was offended that a representative of the press attended their group, the group led by Professor Sonya Conner who actually brought up that their group did not like the media being there when it was her turn to speak from the podium, City Councilor Konstantina Lukes was in that group. Councilor Phil Palmieri was in another group, and Councilor Sarai Rivera was in yet another, as was City Councilor At-Large Morris Bergman. There were a lot of City Councilor and Candidates for City Council in attendance, I saw Candidate Krystian King there as well.

I was there not as a representative for the InCity Times but as a private citizen and a City Councilor At-Large Candidate, and I did not ask, nor take any photos of the private meeting group. Though I certainly could have.

All in all, I thought that it was a good meeting of the minds to help address legitimate concerns about racism here in Worcester and thought that a lot of valid points were brought up in the discussion that our group had, even by the woman who then snubbed me.

Discourse is a valuable tool in any negotiation, and a spirit of working together has a much better chance of getting results than to have people act the fool, riot, loot and burn.

I think these talks and the ones scheduled to yet take place will help the people find constructive ways to eliminate racism in our communities and ensure equal and fair treatment of all citizens regardless of race.

At least, that is what I hope comes of these talks.

Mr. Ronald L. O’Clair, Candidate for City Councilor At-Large, Worcester. Massachusetts.

If you liked this story, or did not like it, I would love to hear your feedback at: ronaldoclair@hotmail.com

DOJ race relations discussions: Just another campaign event?

By Gordon Davis

It is something like karma when this morning four protesters of racist police misconduct will be arraigned in Worcester Superior Court on the same day the City of Worcester is holding with the Department of Justice (DOJ) discussions on race relations (race and city government) at Quinsgamond Community College.

The malicious prosecution of the four protesters is evidence of the problems with race in Worcester.

A Worcester police officer allegedly beating a shackled man in lock up is evidence of police misconduct in Worcester.

There is no need for DOJ facilitation for people of color to recognize the implied threat by the City of Worcester. There is no need for the facilitation of the DOJ for the racists in Worcester and city government to deny that the malicious prosecution is racist or to deny the existence of any racism.

Not one of the four protesters had the capacity to stop Black Lives Matter protests from continuing or blocking an intersection. The so called “deal” was a political stunt and evidence of the political and racist nature of the malicious prosecution by the City Manager and the Police Chief.

The Massachusetts Human Rights Commission and the Progressive Labor Party have not been intimidated by the racism and the malicious prosecution by the City of Worcester.

They are calling for a Black Lives Matter march and rally Tuesday, June 2, at 5 p.m. at Worcester City Hall.

The Green-Rainbow Party at its recent state convention passed a resolution condemning police misconduct of all kinds and systemic racism. This new civil rights movement seems to have more staying power than some thought.

The DOJ hearing scheduled for today, June 1, will be a campaign event. Practically every candidate for Worcester City Council will show up and say Worcester is not racist and that they will do all that they can to ameliorate any racial problems. These political candidates will do this without saying anything substantial or by saying nothing at all or by saying something offensive.

There will be no discussion of disparate treatment of people of color by the Worcester Police Department.

There will be no discussion of the City’s extortion and intimidation against those who are fighting for the Worcester  Police Department to release its data on police misconduct.

I do not think many candidates will go to the next DOJ hearing on June 8 at the AME Baptist Church dealing with “public safety.” The June 8 hearing will likely put the Worcester Police Department in the spotlight about what is really going on and its lack of transparency. I would be surprised if Worcester Police Chief Gary Gemme came to the meeting or answered questions.

At the May 18 hearing – the first hearing-  the DOJ set up the hearing in such a way that allowed no one from the audience to ask questions of Worcester officials. It seemed to me the DOJ was running interference for the City more than it was gathering information about race relations in Worcester.

One of the people who plans to attend today’s hearing sent a list of goals he hopes the hearing will accomplish:

How do we change Worcester so that our government best represents the residents?

Does our government use media to speak to all the communities in our City?

Are Worcester City Council meetings fully accessible to those for whom English is a second language?

Is City Hall and all of our City Departments fully accessible to those for whom English is a second language?

Does everyone have an equal voice in Worcester?

What needs to change?

Why the Department of Justice needs to investigate the Worcester Police Department


Worcester police officers in downtown Worcester

By Gordon Davis

Recently the Department of Justice wrote a negative report regarding misconduct and the poor practices of the Cleveland Police Department.

Some of the issues in Cleveland that were found in need of improvement:

The unnecessary and excessive use of deadly force, including shootings and head strikes with impact weapons

The unnecessary, excessive or retaliatory use of less lethal force including tasers, chemical spray and fists

Excessive force against persons who are mentally ill or in crisis, including in cases where the officers were called exclusively for a welfare check

and the employment of poor and dangerous tactics that place police officers in situations where avoidable force becomes inevitable and places officers and civilians at unnecessary risk.

The report also described a lack of transparency in the Cleveland Police Department that allowed the misconduct to continue over many years.

In Worcester no one outside of the Worcester Police Department can say with certainty how much police misconduct there is in the Worcester Police Department.

For decades this information has been kept from the public, even when ordered by the courts to make it public.
The ACLU, the daily and others have tried to obtain what should be public records from the Worcester Police Department – a city department funded by the taxpayers. With each attempt, the Worcester Police Department has blocked any significant release of public records.

There is evidence of police misconduct.

The latest being the allegations that a Worcester Police officer beat up a shackled prisoner in the Worcester lock up.

Even here the videotape of the alleged misconduct has not been released.

In light of the many allegations of misconduct by the Worcester Police and the lack of transparency, an investigation by the Department of Justice would be welcomed.

The DOJ investigation might find that:

1. the Worcester police are relatively well managed and the department is doing a good job.

2. the Worcester Police Department is non-compliant to the civil rights of residents – police officers can be abusive.

3. the Worcester Police Department is slightly flawed and in need of only some changes.

This DOJ investigation will confirm or belay any trust issues with the communities of color. The powers that be should not be afraid of such an investigation by the Department of Justice. After all, the city manager asked it to come to Worcester to help with race relations. It makes sense for city officials to now ask the Department of Justice to give its seal of approval – or disapproval – to the Worcester Police Department.

This is troubling: At DOJ meeting #1, held May 18 at the YWCA in Worcester  – a black woman was booed by white people when she raised the suggestion of the Department of Justice investigating the Worcester Police Department. It was more troubling when a local newspaper columnist made light of her suggestion.

There still exists a great divide in race relations in Worcester.

There is a need for the additional action of the Department of Justice. The DOJ should investigate the Worcester Police Department – to see the good and what needs to be improved. Local lives hang in the balance.

It seems local activists are writing a letter to the U.S. Attorney office of Carmen Ortiz – making this petition.

Worcester and the Department of Justice – meeting #1, May 18, 2015

By Gordon Davis

The first of several race relations discussions initiated by Worcester City Manager Edward Augustus began last night at the YWCA, Worcester. The discussions, so far, seemed poorly designed and did not reach the people who needed to be at the table.

Young men of color were conspicuously absent.

In the meeting room, which was filled to capacity, young men of color and those who interact with them could be counted on one hand.

Muhammad Ali-Salaam of the Community Relations Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ) explained as best he could what the discussions were about. He had with him a team of facilitators who sat at each table.

Mr. Ali-Salaam said that the DOJ came at the request of the City Manager. The discussions on race relations were intended to vet Augustus’ plan for more diversity in Worcester government/public life and to get input from the community. Augustus said he is hopeful that these discussions would be more fruitful than the other discussions on race held previously in Worcester.

In response to a question about the DOJ investigating the Worcester Police Department for misconduct and Worcester City government for malicious prosecution, Mr. Ali-Salaam said the petition for such investigations should go to Ms. Carmen Ortiz, the U.S. Attorney for this district. She has a field office in Worcester.

Mr. Culin Owyang, Deputy Attorney General for Massachusetts, said he and the Attorney General hoped to have a positive impact on Worcester’s discussions on race and to give them some structure.

On the subject of Worcester District Attorney (DA) Joseph Early Jr. recusing his office from the prosecution of a Worcester police officer accused of beating a shackled prisoner and transferring the prosecution to Attorney General Maura Healy’s office, Mr. Owyang had no comment.

He said DA Early should be asked those questions. He had no comment on why DA Early did not erect a legal wall around the prosecution or appoint a special prosecutor.

Several people in attendance said the racial tension in Worcester has been centered around Black Lives Matter demonstrations and Worcester Police misconduct and alleged public safety issues at North High School.

There were few, if any protesters, from Black Lives Matter and no high school students from North High School.


The outreach could be better for the city’s upcoming discussions on public safety and education.

Two young men of color who were at the meeting expressed disappointment with the low turnout of young men of color.

Born Taylor, a young Black man, said he felt that some good could come from the discussions, but he also felt that the division of attendees by table could have been better. He thought discussions would not attain some of their goals if more young men of color did not attend.

Caleb Encarnacion-Rivera, a young Hispanic man, said he came in order to help the improvement of the city. He was especially motivated because now he had a child in the Worcester Public Schools.

Like Mr. Taylor, Mr. Encarnacion-Rivera hoped that more young men of color would attend the future discussions.

Two Worcester city councillors, Gary Rosen and Sarai Rivera, said they were there to learn more.

City Manager Augustus said we should not be held captive by the past, where similar discussions started out enthusiastically but nothing significant came about.

One white woman said there is no racial problem in Worcester. She said that there were only agitators stirring things up, causing the problems. While she was speaking, my thoughts went to the old civil rights movement where Bull Connors said something similar about happy Negroes and outside agitators.

Another white woman said some in the room were unaware that the term “color blindness” in terms of race had shifted from a relatively progressive phrase to a code word for institutional racism. Although honest and a plea for discourse, such comments will make the discussions difficult for some people of color.

A black woman who said that the DOJ should investigate the Worcester Police was booed by some white people, even though the facilitators told the participants that they should be respectful of everyone’s ideas and opinions.

Instead of reducing racial tensions in Worcester, the discussions might be the source of increased racial tensions.

One person noticeably absent was Brenda Jenkins of the YMCA and the Mosaic Cultural Complex. She is an important Black leader in the City of Worcester. Several people came to me and asked me where Brenda was. They speculated that she might not have come because the populations she works with did not go.

There are also rumors that the City of Worcester is pressuring Brenda’s program – the Mosaic Cultural Complex-  by reviewing the funds the City of Worcester awards her group. Is Augustus going to pull Brenda’s funding to pressure Brenda to “shut up”? Or has that already happened? Or has Brenda, like other Black leaders in Worcester before her, people of color on the city payroll, people of color with ties to Worcester city government/jobs/funds self-censoring herself??? To save her city money?

I suppose the politics of Worcester might suddenly change, and the city will take more substantial and positive actions towards race relations.

Unfortunately it looks a lot like business as usual – or worse.

Next week: Department of Justice conversations on race and Worcester

By Gordon Davis

Worcester City Manager Edward Augustus has arranged to have the Department of Justice attend some public discussions about race. The public discussions are under the direction of the City Manager’s Committee Against Bias and Hate. The reasons given for the public discussions are the racial tensions in Worcester regarding police misconduct and safety at North High School.

These discussions will be held on every Monday from May 18, 2015 through July 13, 2015, except for May 25th, which is Memorial day.

The public discussions will be from 6 PM to 8 PM at various locations around the city.

Several of the public discussions seem to be unrelated to racial tensions or are of an organizational nature. The May 18 public discussion is organizing how the discussions should take place. I am always wary of meetings to discuss meetings. The July 13 public discussion is about what to do with the contents of the public discussions. This should have already been determined – that the City Manger would use the contents to improve the City of Worcester. By the time of the last public discussion, the city budget process for fiscal year 2016 will have been completed.

The June 8 public meeting on Public Safety and the June 15 meeting on Youth and Education are on issues that the City Manager and the Worcester School Department have found more challenging in terms of race.

There are some rumblings among some of the groups that are in the Black Lives Matter civil rights movement that the Department of Justice should be petitioned to investigate the Worcester Police Department and its lack of transparency.

The following are the dates, subjects and times of the public discussions:

ALL of these public hearings are scheduled for:

Mondays ………. 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.


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.


SPEAK UP! Speak out!!

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

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.


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.


SPEAK UP! Speak out!!

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