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COMEDY FUNDRAISER FOR FAMILY OF FALLEN POLICE OFFICER, “Manny” FAMILIA

By Jim Coughlin

Polar Park on Madison Street, just outside of Kelly Square, on Tuesday, July 2, was the scene of a fundraiser for the family of the late Worcester Police Officer Emanuel “Manny” Familia who tragically died on June 4th after unsuccessfully trying to save a young man from Virginia, Troy Love, from drowning. But he also drowned at Green Hill Park.

The event featured a line-up of some national, New England and Boston comics, along with Cambridge comedian Lenny Clark who served as the Master of Ceremonies for the evening.

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Todd Angell

The event was billed as “A Night of Comedy for Familia.” Besides Clark, other comedians who performed at the fundraiser were Boston comedian Tony Viveiros whose stage name is “Tony V,”Dave Russo, Frank Santorrellia and Christine Hurley of Plymouth who was introduced to the 2,000 spectators at the event as the “Queen of Comedy.”

Tickets were mostly sold on line for line, starting at $30.

The event was organized by retired Massachusetts State Trooper John Fraioli who is a member of the security staff for the Worcester Red Sox at Polar Park. The fundraiser began with a singer, Todd Angell of Lynnfield, who sings at the opening of hockey games for the Boston Bruins at the TD Center in Boston. He brought the entire crowd to a rousing standing ovation after he completed the National Anthem. Angilly, whose day job is as the Assistant Super indent of Re-entry for Essex County Sheriff Kevin Carpenter in an interview said, “It was an honor to be here to join with the Worcester Police Department who just lost a brother.”

In referring to the police, Angell said, “These are the people who keep us safe.”

Manny Familia’s wife, Jennifer, as well as his 7 year-old daughter and 13 year old son were in attendance at the event. Off duty members of the Worcester Police Department, wearing blue tee shirts with the logo “Comedy Staff” on the back and the police department’s logo on the front served as advance people for the comedians going onto the stage and helped provide security for the event as the comedians came and left the stage.

The range of humor was about ordinary every day things such as marriage, relationships with members of your family, and there were even some comic lines about the legendary traffic problems at Kelly Square.

Those in attendance were a combination of present and former members of the Worcester Police Department and their families. Among those in the audience was a policewoman from the Holden Police Department who only identified herself as “Janet.” She is an 18 year veteran of the Department and said she worked with Manny as a member of the Oakham Police Department prior to his becoming a member of the Worcester Police Department. Janet saluted her fallen brother as “an awesome police officer who always had a joke.”

Also attending was Alex Owen of Worcester who did not know Manny personally, but she said she “has friends who knew him.” She described herself as a 2008 graduate of Holy Name High School in Worcester and called the fallen police officer as “an incredibly nice man, an amazing police officer and an excellent father.”

“People only have nice things to say about him,” she said.

Another attendee was Shawn Grimes of Sterling who said he came because he read the story in the newspaper and friends of his told him they were going to attend the fundraiser, so he decided to come, also. Perhaps the one interview that I had after the event that best summed up the event for the fallen police officer was the one I had with Ralph Capaldi, a resident of Auburn who called the fundraiser, “a great show of love.”

I guess that was what the event at Polar Park was all about, in the final analysis. As a reporter who covered Familia’s wake and funeral Mass at St. John’s Church on June 10, I can personally attest to the greatness and the emotional strength and stamina exhibited by the members of the Worcester Police Department, both individually and collectively, as they came either alone or with their spouses to say goodbye to their fallen comrade who unquestionably was loved very much by his colleagues in the department.

Worcester has had a number of tragedies and traumas over the years: the 1953 tornado, the 1996 Worcester Cold Storage Fire that claimed the lives of six members of the Worcester Fire Department, and there was the tragic death of Worcester Firefighter Jason Menard shortly after that, and of course the latest of these tragedies was the death of Manny Familia. But Worcester is a great city and we, as a community, will overcome the loss of Manny.

The members of the Worcester Police Department need to know that the small minority who unfairly criticize the entire department do NOT speak for the entire community, although they may somehow think that they do. The police need to be called their proper title, and I just don’t mean properly addressing them as “officer” as a simple matter of showing some modicum of respect to them as law enforcement officers. But rather what the Worcester Police need to be recognized for is what they truly are and that is “Blue Angels.” As the singer for the fundraiser very appropriately said about the police, “they are the ones keeping us safe.”

For those whose battle cry is “defund the police, I have one question: when someone is shot in your neighborhood or your home is burglarized, who are you going to call: the critics of the police? I don’t think so.

The pain of the loss of Manny Familia is still fresh in the hearts of the women and men in blue who keep us safe. In the wake of Manny’s tragic death, one wish for our city could be that we be spared any more tragedies like the one that took police Manny Familia from us, far too soon. Undoubtedly, the death of Manny has been a difficult one – not only for his fellow police officers but for the entire City of Worcester. …

Rest in Peace, Blue Angel.

Safeguarding animals and workers in American slaughterhouses: President Biden makes a good start …

Slowing down slaughter speeds is a step forward, but we can do far better!

By Ingrid Newkirk

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Ingrid has changed the world❤🌎!

President Joe Biden’s recent decision to dismantle a Trump-era program that allowed slaughterhouses to raise slaughter-line speeds should be applauded by all, regardless of politics.

The program — implemented by at least eight slaughterhouses — relies on employees to inspect pig carcasses and perform other tasks as bodies go whizzing by at breakneck speed. It cocks a snoot at anyone who values animal welfare, worker safety or the food supply.

In March, a federal district court ruled that the U.S. Department of Agriculture didn’t thoroughly evaluate the program’s impact on worker safety when it allowed slaughterhouses to eliminate any already-sparse restrictions on line speeds.

When it was first implemented, food inspectors said that pork was “more likely to contain feces, sex organs, toenails, bladders and unwanted hair” as a result of this plan.

Of course, the program also increases animal suffering, as what the animals endure is not even a consideration when workers must slaughter as many animals as possible in the shortest possible time.

Pig slaughterhouses will have until the end of June to reduce line speeds to the previous legal limit, which had already been roundly criticized for being too high: 1,106 pigs per hour or 18 pigs per minute. Not even Superman would be able to examine a body for disease at that rate.

Slaughterhouses are dangerous for both man and beast. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, slaughterhouse employees endure about 16 times as many illnesses and injuries as the average American worker. When COVID-19 swept through slaughterhouses, some Tyson Foods supervisors allegedly took bets on how many slaughter workers would get sick.

Biden had already rejected a proposal to increase chicken slaughter line speeds.

Chicken slaughterhouse workers have complained of having to wear diapers because they’ve been denied bathroom breaks, and 60 Minutes described the liquid often seen in the bottom of a package of chicken in the supermarket as “fecal soup.”

Small wonder that USDA inspectors often state that they don’t eat meat. They’ve seen too much to be able to stomach it, and anyone concerned about animals, slaughterhouse employees or food safety would do well to follow their example.

Dismantling the program is a good thing but not a significant sign of progress. Having stood inside several slaughterhouses, I can confirm that they are egregiously cruel. Even after the line speed is reduced, animals will still be hung upside down, scalded and bled to death, sometimes while they’re still conscious, as government reports show. Newborn pigs are often killed before they even reach the slaughterhouse — workers commonly slam their heads into the concrete floor, also known as “thumping.”

Pigs, chickens, cows and other animals experience pain and fear, just as humans do. In nature, they play, explore and love.

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They have impressive memories and problem-solving skills. Piglets learn to run to their mothers’ voices, and mother pigs “sing” to their piglets while nursing. Chickens talk to their chicks while they’re still inside the shell and in behavioral studies have been shown going to great lengths not only to protect them but also to find places to build nests away from prying human eyes. All animals have personalities and emotions, not just the dogs and cats we have in our homes. It is only a lack of familiarity with them, and an upbringing steeped in speciesism, that leads us to believe that some living beings are meant for the table.

While the previous administration’s inhumane — and unsafe — slaughter program is coming to an end, the suffering that we may find inconvenient to examine closely will continue as long as people choose to eat flesh.

Let’s not return to the way things were — we should move forward and focus on vegan meats and other tasty vegan foods, including Beyond Sausage, tempeh bacon, vegan ham and Gardein Chick’n Strips. There’s no need to wait for politicians to protect animals or human health — PETA will gladly send you a free vegan starter kit. VISIT PETA.ORG

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WE CAN CHANGE THE WORLD! GO VEGETARIAN OR, AT THE VERY LEAST, EAT WAY LESS MEAT! FIGHT FOR FARM-ANIMAL AND -WORKER RIGHTS!