Tag Archives: shootings

Be there! Vernon Hill: mega crime watch meeting for our urban neighborhoods!

Neighborhood Public Safety Meeting!

Thursday, August 13

7:30 p.m. – 9 p.m.

At the Worcester Senior Center

128 Providence Street


We need to save our inner-city neighborhoods! EVERYONE has to speak up, work together, be brave – and hopeful! The mayor is right – we can’t arrest our way out of the problem – but we can tamp things down, cool things off with an intensified police presence.  I am OK with city councilor Konnie Lukes’ suggestion – bring in the Massachusetts State Police.  It’s political grandstanding but who gives a shit at this point. The staties are here anyways.  Let their people supplement IN A VERY VISUAL WAY what the city has going already – bring in their cars, uniformed guys and gals. I WOULD LOVE A STATE POLICE CRUISER SITTING IN THE SAINT MARY’S CHURCH PARKING LOT NEAR MY HOUSE. So would all the other good people on my street! People are afraid! Single moms with cute little kids, single family home owners, young guys who have nothing to do with the chaos and are just typical teens hanging out together or walking to a friend’s house. There are so many good people living in our urban core, day in and day out. They deserve to go to work, let their kids ride their bikes on the sidewalk, walk down to the mini-mart IN RELATIVE PEACE. The bad apples will move on/be dealt with if we get the police presence we need! (photo by R.T: the corner of Lodi and Lafayette streets, where ICT editor Rosalie grew up and played as a little kid . Lafayette, Bigelow, Endicott – all inner-city Woo residential streets, part of our urban core, THAT WE CANNOT LET DIE, streets that can benefit from a stepped-up WPD police presence, coupled with Mass. State Police.)     – R. Tirella 

Please join Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty, City Manager Ed Augustus, District Attorney Joe Early, Jr, and …

… representatives from the Worcester Police Department

Emergency Communications

and the Worcester City Council in a conversation about our city and our neighborhoods and the ways that we can all help!





By Rosalie Tirella

Four or so weeks ago, outside my Worcester inner-city three decker, I made a new friend: Beauty, a little Chihuahua-mix from across the street. She was funny-looking cute in the way only mutts can be: long, thin body, a head that was disproportionately big for her shoulders, a kink in the middle of her tail, no taller than a beer can. The great thing about Beauty:  she was wearing a sparkly blue collar attached to a sparkly blue leash, which was held by a little girl, about six years old. One of the little kids in my neighborhood, just like you see all over Worcester inner-city neighborhoods: teeny, slips of children, undernourished, dull, pinched complexions, sometimes hair not combed out, running pell mell across busy city streets not much higher than the car tires that whiz by them. These children are so vulnerable looking you are scared for them. At first you see them as sickly and you despair for the city (they’re Worcester’s future). Then you see them as beautiful – the most exquisitely delicate of children, bones made of glass, eyes made of sea shells, hair of silk … They are the glass ornaments with which you’d adorn your Christmas tree, they are the wind catchers you’d hang from your kitchen window, in a special spot, so the morning sunlight can shine through them.

This little girl with the Chihuahua was wearing a dollar store short set; her shoes looked like slippers. But, she was full of spirit! She was running to beat the band to meet me in my parking lot, with Beauty trotting confusedly, but proudly ( little head up!), next to her. I had just got home from working and was unloading my car. The girl was smiling, seemed interested in me and Jett, my husky mix, who always travels with me. She watched me as I organized my bags and put Jett’s lead on him. She began to follow me, walking right uo to the front door of my building with me.

I smiled. I knew the pattern! Lots of inner-city kids growing up without the physical trappings of a middle-class childhood –  vacations at the Cape, big backyards filled with swing sets and the latest electronic gadgets and toys – are like this little girl.  They have personalities that absolutely sparkle, that seem to burst out of their tiny bodies! They lack the material shit their rich, spoiled and, ultimately, boring counterparts have so they create their own fun. Make their own childhood castles, their unique kiddie worlds. They are curious, aware, intuitive … sharp. They are interested in – sometimes fascinated by! – the people around them. Human toys! They want to engage you! Chat! Listen to your voice and what you have to say! Years ago, growing up in Green Island, I used to be one of those little kids! Not so young, maybe 10 … Saturday mornings I was running down Lafayette Street, making my way to the little old lady who fed 20 cats outside her flat, watching them run wild atop this little hill of garbage in her back yard. Fascinating! Then I’d run down Bigelow Street for my next adventure – to visit the weird old lady whose mouth hung down stiff on one side like it was just waiting for a cigar to be slipped in and who always wore heavy black man’s shoes. One of her legs was shorter than the other, so the soles of one of her heavy monsters was much thicker than the other.  Fascinating! This lady always began her friendly chats with me on her back porch with: NOW YOU KIDS LISTEN TO YOU MOTHER … her voice gravelly, husky, gruff from the cigarettes she smoked incessantly. I’d spend a half hour with this chain smoker, looking at her big, black man’s shoes that were always polished and shiny, and her thick ankles – always in tight fitting (you could see the red band the socks’ elastic top made on her white skin) ankle socks. Wanda was always such a know it all! So much fun to listen to her pontificate! Then I’d move one door down and say hello to Wanda’s neighbors, the old couple in the flat next door. They weren’t as chatty as Wanda with the crooked mouth but they were soothing, very domestic, like the little old couple you’d find in a Gingerbread house in the middle of enchanted woods! The wife used to sew beautiful little pillow dolls with plastic cupie doll faces. She’d show me her latest projects – dolls with dresses made of the prettiest cotton fabric, wearing bonnets she made specially for them. Bonnets trimmed with white lace to match the lace at the hem of their dresses! I adored these handmade beauties! Wanted all of them, which she had placed all over her husband’s and her bed and sofa. They had taken over their tenement! She knew I coveted her pillow dolls and would sometimes give me one of her less pretty babies. For Christmas or my birthday or First Holy Communion. Special occasions like that. I’d run straight home to show my mom, cutting through the big field between our buildings, not watching where I ran because I was so excited, coming home with brambles,we called them “pickers,” all over socks andthe bottoms of my slacks!

Ma! I’m home!!! Look what Elsie gave me!!!!!

These days, summer of 2015, this little girl, proud owner of Beauty, reminded me of me! Curious about the people around her, shy but open, wanting to learn what you liked, who you knew … people like me, now a middle aged lady down the street, stoking HER curiosity, HER imagination. I knew and loved the pattern!  So I obliged!

Hi! I said to her with enthusiasm. HELLO!

Is that your dog? she asked me, looking fascinated by the entire Rosalie-Jett production/catastrophe!

Yes! I said, His name is Jett. You’ve got such a cute dog! I love his collar! What’s your dog’s name? 

I could tell right then and there he didn’t have one! She was about to improvise! Looking at the sidewalk and then looking at me, glancing at my dress, my face, then my legs, she blurted: BEAUTY!!!!!

I wanted to scoop her up and hug her!  Kids and their not-so-secret compliments! I wanted to cry!

But instead I said: That’s a great name! I love that name! Smiling, now setting my bags down to seriously chat with my new friend, I said: How old is Beauty? She’s a great friend! I love her blue collar! It matches her leash!  I wish Jett had one like that.

Shyly pleased with my compliment and still basking in the glow of her ingenuity, the little girl walked her little dog around me smiling. I opened my car door and got Jett’s doggy treat jar out. I twisted off the cap and took out a little piece of liver snap and offered it to Beauty. She was too nervous to eat it.

I’ll bring you some treats you’ll like tomorrow, I told Beauty. Then said goodbye to my new friends.

The next day I had a bag of goodies ready for Beauty. At the end of my day, just as I had expected, Beauty and her little girk owner rushed across the street, oblivious to traffic, to meet me and Jett. My heart sang! Innocence amid the crack houses, the yellow police tape, the guy men with their pants right off their asses so you saw their underwear.

Here are some snacks for Beauty! I said to the little girl (who never gave me her name, whose name I didn’t ask to know), giving her the dog treats. Looking at the skinny dog, Beauty, noting the ridges of her little back bone and how they protruded through her thin coat, I realized Beauty is the last to be fed in this household I declared for all the universe to hear: I’LL HAVE FOOD FOR YOU TOMORROW! I WILL! FOR YOU!!!!

I went upstairs to my apartment and wanted to collapse on my bed. The city is overwhelming, too stimulating, like electricity going through me! Instead, I immediately began putting together a beautiful puppy package for Beauty: A big blue stuffed dog toy shaped like a bone. It squeaked when you squeezed it. A plastic pup canister with red paw prints on it that I filled with Jett’s dog food. And then – the piece de resistance! – a big water bowl that looked and acted like a water cooler! (pictured above). It was topped off with a huge, clear plastic  jug, that once filled would keep the water flowing and, I believed, serve Beauty well – and fascinate her little mistress. Then, lastly, a blue water/food bowl that looked too cute! I put it all on the dining room table for the next day.

The next day my building had graffiti sprayed all over it by gangs. It had been tagged – by  gang members and drug kings who have been shooting at and killing each other with impunity all over Worcester this summer. Last week there were bullet casings found on our street. Before that, up a ways, one kid fired his gun at another kid. They were both in their cars, driving their cars.


He is my friend. So within a half hour he was downstairs calmly painting over the convoluted letters that were like a slap in the face to this end of the street, home to about 10 little kids who ride their bikes all over and … BEAUTY AND HER OWNER.

Ten minutes or so later, my cell phone rang. It was my landlord:  COME DOWN HERE, ROSE.

What now?! I cried as I threw on my shoes and ran downstairs. At the bottom of the stairwell I met my landlord and a little black boy, about 11. The boy was shaking, then he got still, like a small animal, or a bird, in physical shock.

I looked at my landlord. He said: Take him upstairs. He was just chased down the street by a guy in a van, with a gun.

What?! I cried. I’ll wait with him in the hallway upstairs. Did you call the police?

Just as my landlord was about to answer my question, a car pulled up in front of our building: the boy’s relatives. They had come for him. He went out to them and got into the car. My landlord called 911. The cops were on the scene in minutes. They talked to the relatives and the little boy.  A few hours later the police caught the guy who had been chasing the boy. They found him hiding in the bushes next door. With his gun.

For days I was too stunned to write this…but then the shock wore off and I am so worried about Beauty and her owner!


My heart dropped to the soles of my shoes. I worried about them and all the cute, skinny little kids in my neighborhood and Worcester’s inner city neighborhoods, with their innocent faces and social little personalities. Beauty, that funny looking little dog, no higher than 6 inches at the shoulders, and her little girl owner were in the back of my mind all day, as I ran InCity Times. When I got home, they were not on the sidewalk near my house waiting for me like they used to be. I went upstairs and felt very alone.

So I decided to TAKE ACTION!  I began working the phones, calling all the politicians in town. I told them about the little boy my landlord and I gave shelter to – from a storm made of kids with guns and disrespect and no love for anyone, not even themselves. Self-destruction! Confusion!  Children being chased by other children with guns! In my neighborhood, in our city! I cried to them. I’ve seen it! Just yesterday! The expression on that little boy’s face! He was quarry.


Everyone responded to my fears and pleas in politician triple-speak. Such useless bull shit! Fuck you all! Except for Worcester Mayor Joe Petty, a guy totally underestimated by his opponents, who said to me, like he’s said before: I’M LISTENING, Rose. I’M LISTENING. I COULD HEAR HIM LISTENING, INTENSELY, OVER THE PHONE. Within 24 hours we had Worcester Police  Department fiot patrols on my street. The neighborhood has quieted down, calmed down. People are not on edge 24/7 – though we are all watching our backs. Joe Petty is Worcester’s Quiet Man. Like John Wayne in John Ford movies, he doesn’t say much but he’s got integrity, is modest, and will always rise to the occasion. I think he’s heartbroken over all the senseless killing and shooting, too!

And so, today, it’s quiet, though I’m AWARE, like half the city, of the potential for mayhem. Just three days ago a mom and her two year old child were shot while sitting in a car. BOOM. A toddler. Not much smaller that Beauty’s owner, I bet.

BTW: I have decided to name the little girl, BEAUTY.  She’s the real deal!

My landlord says: Don’t over think it, Rose. Do your thing. The unofficial Mayor of Green Island, Lorraine Laurie, says the same thing: Just run your life, Rose. It’s a gang thing – take it from your big sis!

I love Lorraine but she’s wrong.


And yours.

We all have to take responsibility for the little kids in our struggling neighborhoods, though few do, which is the problem.

Two days ago I saw Beauty, and her owner and a new addition to the troops –  her teeny little brother – about three years old. Totally adorable! Like his sister, sweet and friendly in such a heartbreaking, tentative way… . He was walking Beauty! Not his sis! She was beside him, though, overseeing the walk. Very serious. To see such BEAUTY on parade in a hood like mine, in a world like ours, takes my breath away.

Running to them, over-joyed, I GUSHED: HI! I have so many great gifts for BEAUTY!

Everything’s changed, Worcester!


ICT editor Rosalie walked up to this local statue a few days ago to find comfort. ( pic – R.T.)

By Rosalie Tirella

In the 1990s I lived in Springfield (MA) and Hartford. Young but not too young I lived in those cities to 1. be away from Worcester, my hometown and 2. to work on my writing. I had Grace, my greyhound mix back then, my first dog, and, as always, a few cats, when I pulled Worcester stakes and headed down the pike/ route 84. I piled most of my clothing  in my cream-colored Cavalier station wagon, got a few friends to rent me a small UHaul van, load it up with my then bedroom and kitchen sets and together, one guy driving the UHaul, the other guy riding with me to keep me company,  headed down the road.

The great – and disappointing – thing about “heading down the road” is that once you get to your destination and the brief honeymoon period of adjusting to life in a new locale is over (1 – 3 years) you find you’re the exact same person you were in your old/town or city, be it suburban dump or glitzy metropolis. Sure, you picked up new clothes, new interests, new pals, eaten at new restaurants but it’s basically YOU, your personality, hanging on a new street.

Comforting.  We are people with individual personalities – not chameleons that shed our skins to match some rock.

Discomforting. We think we are founts of infinite potential and that we can reinvent NEW AMAZING LIVES FOR OURSELVES at every turn – the American ethos. But we can’t. Not really. We are human beings whose parents and early childhood pretty much set our IQs and personalities in stone. You can tweak and play around the edges (that’s what psychotherapy is for) but YOU ARE YOU!

I had the above epiphany in Hartford in the 1990s and headed back to Worcester, where I’ve been running my little life ever since.

In Hartford I realized a few other things, too: 1. THAT WORCESTER WAS SO MUCH SAFER THAN SPRINGFIELD AND HARTFORD and other New England cities its size  2. It was Worcester’s safeness, its BIG SMALL TOWN FEEL that I LOVED and missed most of all! The Sunday drivers, the acres and acres of green space, the lack of skyline, the LACK OF GUN VIOLENCE. The relative PEACE. All this mundane crap was what made Worcester STELLAR!

Even back in the 1990s Springfield and Hartford were filled with gangbangers, murderers, gun toters and knife-brandishers … pitbulls who’d lost dog fights hanging from trees (in city parks!), young fathers bed hopping while their kids and women waited in pisshole apartments for their “king” to return home, the women enablers who’d brazenly fight it out with each other over the “love” of some loser. Ugly scenes. Self-destruction. Drugs. Guys walking around with paper bags with bottles in them and leaning against bus stop signs (on Main Street!) to take a few swigs from their bottles. Women were killed and stuffed into trash cans, like yesterday’s garbage.

My neighbor in my Hartford apartment building, a sweet piano teacher who gave piano lessons in his apartment, had his living room window sprayed with bullets, the living room in which stood his beloved piano, next to a white wicker chair. The living room where he gave piano lessons to neighborhood kids wasn’t elegantly appointed (he didn’t have a lot of dough), the tentative tinkling I loved to listen to from my apartment, up above, wasn’t always very  … musical! Still, it felt like home! After the guns moved in the piano teacher moved out. Within weeks. And I was left without his music, with sadness. This music teacher, a symbol, to me, of hope amid all the despair around us, of art in spite of the killing, of teaching trumping shooting up – heroin –  and guns – was gone. Poof! Vanished into the suburban thin air! Kids learning their scales and how to read sheet music were no longer part of my city world. Now it was kids with guns hunting each other down with such intensity that sometimes entire families had to abandon their apartments and relocate for safety purposes. I knew of one such family. The kid was 16, gorgeous and charming but TROUBLE. He crossed some folks. They were after him. His mother moved the family out of their neighborhood under the cover of night. She adored her son, would do anything to keep her baby safe. Some baby.

 THE KIND OF FEAR THAT EMPTIES YOU OUT. The kind of fear that stops you from enjoying your life in your city because you are too busy watching your back. This is what’s happening in Worcester today: fear and violence birthing more fear and more violence. It’s the domino effect. And just you try to stop it! You get the bad guys, put them away, but their “friends,” through a perverted sense of loyalty, “get” the other guy, step up to keep up the mayhem. One guy loses his drug business, there’ll be his mentee – or competition – to pick up the slack.

Worcester, my hometown, used to feel … old fashioned. Frumpy. A city where you’d never expect a two-year-old child and mom to be gunned down while sitting in their car. You think: that’s the kind of violence you see in much bigger cities where economic and social disparities are wider. Right? Wrong!  It happened here, in Worcester, a few days ago. Worcester – a city no longer peopled with Sunday drivers and easy going ( if slightly boring) neighbors, and second-rate everything. Nope. It happened in the shining new Worcester where the upper middle class still enjoy a pretty nice existence but where our working class and uneducated (more than half of Worcester) find little opportunity, what with our factories, the juice that gave Green Island, Vernon Hill, Grafton Hill, Main South, Quinsigamond Village, Piedmont, Union Hill, Greendale their juice, gone. Now jobs are scarce and what’s available pay $9 an hour. Nine bucks. Trying paying your rent and bills and buying groceries on nine bucks. It’s a wonder Worcester – America! – doesn’t have MORE murders and brazen gun-play!

Worcester, we’ve turned a corner this summer.


Statement by Worcester Mayor Joseph M. Petty on recent proposals to increase the presence of outside law enforcement agencies in Worcester

I have full confidence in [Worcester Police] Chief [Gary] Gemme and the Police Officers of Worcester.

The Worcester Police know our community and our neighborhoods.

We have a great community policing  program, as well as the Police Summer Impact Unit.

Law Enforcement on all levels are already working together to solve the problem of violence in our community.  They are working under the leadership of Police Chief Gary Gemme.

But when guns are easy to obtain, you end up with guns in the wrong hands. Unfortunately, right now, we have gang members with small minds carrying big guns.

I am disappointed in some of my [city] council colleagues who try to have it both ways:

You can’t vote against funding for the police and then claim that they don’t have enough money.

You can’t call for level-funding the budget and then say we don’t have enough cops.

You can’t file orders one day supporting the police and then show a total lack of respect for their professionalism the next.

I am asking my colleagues to stand with me in my support of the Worcester Police Department.  We need everyone in this fight.  We need the Worcester Police, we need neighborhood crime watch groups and we need community groups, all who know the neighborhoods of Worcester.

Congressman McGovern, Mayor Petty Statements on Worcester Shooting on Everett Gaylord Boulevard

WORCESTER – Congressman Jim McGovern and Worcester Mayor Joe Petty released the following statements in response to the shooting of a mother and her 2-year-old child Monday night in Plumley Village on Everett Gaylord Boulevard in Worcester:

“I am heartbroken by last night’s tragic shooting of a mother and young child in Worcester,” Congressman Jim McGovern (D-Worcester) said. “My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their family. I am grateful to the medical professionals who have helped to stabilize the condition of the mother and child and to the law enforcement officials working tirelessly to bring the perpetrator to justice. I am shocked by this unthinkable violence. Now is a time for Worcester to come together as a community to understand how this happened and how we can prevent this violence from happening again.”

“This kind of violence cuts our City to the core, particularly when the victims are a toddler and mother—the very definition of innocent bystander. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their family tonight,” Worcester Mayor Joe Petty said. “Every incidence of violence should shock us and outrage us. Every time we hear about another gun victim we should stop in our tracks and ask how we as a City can do better. We owe it to our neighbors to take this outrage and join together and say, enough. We will work together at all levels of government to ensure that our public safety officials have the support and resources they need. To be clear, the full weight of the Worcester Police Department will be put behind finding the shooter and taking them off the streets.”

A stabbing in the Canal District …

By Rosalie Tirella

… up by Union Station a day or so ago. A young guy was asked for dough, then stabbed when he refused to give up the money. (Take it from this city gal: ALWAYS GIVE THEM THE MONEY! And run away!) … More garbage dumped, too! This on top of a couple of shootings and stabbings in the past few weeks – Union Station, lower Shrewsbury Street. And a stabbing – someone got it in the face – at Kelley Square last month. This is what happens when a bunch of misguided folks decide to exclude entire classes of folks in the redevelopment of an inner-city neighborhood. When the housing stock is out of reach for that neighborhood’s residents. When there are no jobs for them in their neighborhood. And when the basic jobs pay shit$$$. People get desperate, they get disengaged, they stab, shoot, dump …

We hope Charlie Baker can solve these real inner-city problems!!

… Dems are much better than Republicans at the nonsexy, bread and butter, social issues. LIKE IMPROVING A TON OF PEOPLE’S LIVES. THE AMERICAN DREAM. The American Dream and our social safety net, brought to you by FDR, Lyndon Johnson … Take FDR! Now FDR could TRULY REVIVE our inner-city NEIGHBORHOODS. Charlie Baker will stupidly harp on welfare reform, an easy way to demonize the poor. Problem NOT solved.

Expect more stabbings and shootings in and near the Canal District as the have-nots learn where a lot of the haves hang out!

Good luck, Charlie, solving our massive poverty problem!

On the other hand, all the ballot questions, EXCEPT THE EXPANDED-BOTTLE BILL,turned out the way we wanted: YES to earned sick time, casinos; NO to indexing the gas tax to inflation. The expanded bottle bill? Well, if our grandkids don’t know what a polar bear is and New Orleans falls into the ocean we only have our selfish selves to blame. Blame it on our stubborn refusal to fix our factory farms (HUGE PRODUCERS OF GREENHOUSE GASES which wreak havoc on global temperatures/climate), our refusal to get behind renewable energy wholeheartedly … and our ability to just keep making more and more garbage and dumping it on places like the Canal District’s sidewalks!

Yep. The rejection of a new and improved Bottle Bill – Massachusetts in all its cheapskate glory. Why give up 20 cents or a buck or two when buying bottles of water or juice or sports drinks only to GET IT BACK IN A FEW HOURS OR DAYS after we’ve drunk the water or juice? Why let go of a few nickles and dimes … for a week or so?! Why suffer a minor inconvenience when we can trash our planet? Pathetic.

My inner-city neighbors are the best!!

Text and photos by Rosalie Tirella

Sure the Canal District and surrounding area seems to have become a dumping ground for garbage galore and shooting gallery/stabbing/gun hot-spot! I am  on the horn almost every day with city officials and state reps asking for the garbage to be removed, the extra Worcester Police Department foot patrols to be deployed  …

But then there’s this HEAVEN-SENT stuff happening …

… A wonderful garden in my back yard (right where I found the used junky syringe!). Here’s Jett getting nosy with a lovely squash!! We’ve got tomatoes, too! And (had) sunflowers!


… My downstairs neighbor is the sweetest! She gives me her cool clothes and pocketbooks! She’s quite the fashion plate and gets bored with her stuff real quick! So … Here I am several days ago, heading out the door to run InCity Times, wearing one of her pretty blouses!  Now mine! Thanks, in-city gal pal!

CAM00922 (1)

My other downstairs neighbor came upstairs and gave me some Halloween cupcakes and cookies, along with this BEAUTIFUL card! I love the message PEACE FOREVER EVERYWHERE… This was after I went down to her place and gave her and her roommate a thank-you gift for a gift they had given me! How awesome are these people? Right in the middle of all the shootings and stabbings … all this love!


And today I am making a Halloween fun gift for the kids across the street because they helped my roundup a homeless street kitten that needed a good home! These boys were the best! Here is Jett back at my shack being nosy (again) with their pumpkin I am about to fill with candy!



The time to make up your mind about the hood is – NEVER!!