The Worcester City Council and its ping-pong-ball sized balls

By Gordon T. Davis

Once hidden or papered over, the open conflict of the duties of the Worcester Police Department, the policy obligations of the Worcester City Council, and the demographic changes in Worcester will be like an open sore for all to see at tonight’s – January 13 – Worcester City Council meeting (7 p.m., City Hall, Main Street).

The Worcester City Council will pass a resolution supporting the Worcester Police absolutely and attacking the growing number of people, especially the so called minorities, who protested against police misconduct in Ferguson, Missouri, and in Worcester.

It is a foregone conclusion that the resolution written by Worcester City Councillor Konstantina (Konnie) Lukes will pass unchanged, its tone still provocative. There were some who thought City Councillor Ric Rushton would revise Luke’s resolution so it would be less provocative and leave open the door for dialog.

Many people are angry, disappointed, and feel betrayed by the actions of the Worcester City Council. Not one City Councillor has said that he/she will vote against the resolution tonight.

There is discussion among the opponents of the resolution about how to respond to what we consider another in a long line of racist disparities disguised as neutral policy.

Communities United is planning a MLK Potluck Dinner on January 19 to win support for their efforts and to reclaim the passion of Martin Luther King Jr. and infuse it into a new civil rights movement.

Communities United and others have taken a lead in the protests at City Council.  Their efforts have put the City somewhat on the defensive. Worcester Police Chief Gary Gemme has come out in the press with a “Black on Black” news story. The number of shootings in Worcester has increased. The statistics and the police’s policy is hard to know, as the City Council has no policy regarding the police actions and Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus is mum, pretty much letting Chief Gemme do as he sees fit. This issue should be addressed, but the fact that it came out hours before the City Council meeting is evidence of its pretext.

The Police Department has put the pressure on the City Council by alleging that the delay of Councillor Lukes’ resolution has caused morale problems among the ranks.

City Manager Augustus, who is the supposed boss of the police, is nowhere to be found on these issues.  How is it possible the Police Chief can speak for the City department and the City Manager says nothing?

Evidence of racism disguised as neutral policy has been the elections of Councilors. No male person of color has been elected to the Worcester City Council in my almost 50 years living in Worcester as an adult! Lenny Cooper, Bill Coleman, Juan Gomez could not get elected, although Juan Gomez was appointed when a councillor resigned.  Women of color have been able to win elections and their elections are well deserved.

2015 is a City Council election year and no one councilor wants to be seen soft on crime. The City’s demographics are changing. We shall see who votes against Luke’s resolution tonight and his/her fate in the fall elections. Playing the neutral, non-racism card seems to be getting harder to do in Worcester.