By Gordon Davis
Did you know? … Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus and Worcester Deputy Police Chief Sargent met at least one of the protesters from the MLK Day Black Lives Matter protest at Kelly Square and that the City Manager and the Deputy Chief proffered the deal that if there were no more of the same protests, then the City of Worcester would not seek criminal charges against the 40 to 50 people who participated in that Kelley Square protest?
The Black Lives Matter people turned down the deal.
The protesters told City Officials that the civil rights movement would not be intimidated by threats of arrests. At that point the City Officials said they would seek charges against the protesters. They did not say which charges they would seek.
In the meeting there was no discussion of the reform of the Worcester Police Department. Or any remedy to the claims of Black Lives Matter protesters re: racial profiling and police misconduct by the Worcester police.
Over a 12 month period, October 2013 to October 2014, there were at least 134 complaints made against the Worcester Police by “civilians.”
Most of these complaints were adjudicated as unsubstantiated by the City Police’s Standards Department.
What is interesting is that the number of complaints seems to be increasing.
This might be a sign that the Black Lives Matter protests are mitigating the fear of so called “communities of color” to step up and speak our grievances.
Although not racist on its face, the threats of arrest made by City Manager Augustus and the WPD Deputy Chief will likely have a disparately racist impact on the community.
The outcome of the meeting was predictable.
The public announcements by City Manager Augustus and Worcester Police Chief Gary Gemme, which preceded the meeting, were not predictable.
Police Chief Gemme said in a news article he was compelled to seek charges against the BLACK LIVES MATTER protesters because of a video he saw on Youtube.
A day later the City Manager said Police Chief Gemme did not act on his own when he said he was going to charge the protesters. The City Manager said in his interview that he had public safety concerns. The City Manager then said he had not seen the video because it was locked on YouTube.
This raises the question of the accuracy of City Manager Augustus and Police Chief Gemme’s statements. How is it possible for Police Chief Gemme to look for something for which to charge the protesters based on a video when the City Manager said that he ordered Chief Gemme to do so – before the City Manager ever saw the video?
Sometimes it is hard to get their story straight! Especially when the Worcester City Council asks for the “protocols” of protests.
After reviewing the YouTube video, here is my inexpert opinion: There is nothing on which to charge the BLACK LIVES MATTER protesters at Kelley Square.
The Worcester City Council will have to make up a new ordinance on which to charge the protesters! Such as “spending too much time in a public cross walk”!
As with the Worcester panhandling issue, the Worcester City Council will use the pretext of “public safety.”
It’s not just the BLACK LIVES MATTER protesters … Poverty in Worcester, homelessness in Worcester, racism in Worcester – these are all issues that Worcester City Officials would prefer to keep out of sight.