Watch out tomorrow, everyone

Cops bein' shady about demonstrations planned in Worcester

This is a quick one and I’m rushing it out without the typical amount of attention because I really want people to know about this right now. My copy editor said she’s read this over quick and she did but she said she’d been drinking. So have I. I think we all have? This is to say keep drinking and also excuse any grammatical errors in the post below.

Watch out folks, there’s something a little fishy going on. 

There are several demonstrations—that I know of, all left-wingish—planned for tomorrow afternoon around downtown Worcester and they’re all being loosely consolidated as I type this.

An email I got my hands on from people at the Worcester Courthouse seems to suggest the police think these demonstrations will get violent. I know all or at least most of the groups involved, and I have it on good confidence that nothing close to a black bloc (what we in dipshit America like to call “Antifa”) is being assembled for any of the demonstrations. But that didn’t stop courthouse personnel from blasting out an email to staff, which was in turn sent to attorneys, warning of possible violence and alerting folks that the courthouse is shutting down early, just in case. 

The email, originally sent by one Corinne Gorman, an employee of the Superior Court Clerk’s Office, read like this.

“Please be advised that the entire building is being closed tomorrow, November 4, 2020 at 3:00 PM due to intelligence received from State and Local Police regarding a Protest marching from City Hall to the Courthouse at 5:00 PM which is reported to be violent in nature.”

So this clerk heard from the cops that the protest is going to be “violent in nature.” Hmm. I seem to remember the last time there was a protest that got “violent in nature” here in Worcester, it’s because the cops showed up in riot gear and force-marched a group of 30 kids down Main Street. The police, of course, have all the power to turn a peaceful protest into one that is, as they say, “violent in nature.” They’re bullies and they instigate. But I digress. 

The demonstration planned for tomorrow (Wednesday, Nov. 4) starts at 6 at City Hall (for now! these things are fluid) and it’s being planned by a bunch of different groups, including Worcester Socialist Alternative, the Worcester branch of Democratic Socialists of America, and MoveOn. The mayor and Congressman Jim McGovern are said to attend, and members of every group involved have denied there being any intention of violence. In this Telegram article which did the work I would have done if I was not at my restaurant job tonight until about an hour ago, members of all the organizing groups deny any intention of violence. In all my years covering demonstrations in Worcester, they’ve never instigated any violence and there hasn’t been any save for the stuff started by the cops.

Further, Police Chief Steven Sargent is on record saying he did not advise the courthouse to shut down. In an email to city officials sent after the original courthouse email, which I also acquired through my network of little birds, the chief says just the same.

“We do not have any intelligence at federal, state or local level indicating that there will be any violent protests. We would like to reiterate that the department is prepared to respond to various incidents including acts of violence. However, at this time we do not anticipate any violent protests to occur. Our officers are committed to protecting everyone’s First Amendment Rights and will continue to work to ensure the safety of the community.”

So the chief is either backpedaling or the court got information from someone besides him or the court officials made it up out of whole cloth. Occam’s razor suggests it came from someone besides him, so the point remains. The cops, or at least some of the cops, are expecting violence. This train of thought is reinforced by this rather dark line in the chief’s statement to city officials. 

We would like to reiterate that the department is prepared to respond to various incidents including acts of violence.  

That means, at least, what we saw during the Black Lives Matter protest in June. That means a team of cops in riot gear ready to do the sort of crowd control that involved force-marching protestors down a street, gassing them, and firing off “less-than-lethal” weapons.

What that means is be careful. Come prepared. Understand that the cops are ready to escalate at a moment’s notice and understand that that shouldn’t deter you from exercising your right to demonstrate but you should know that’s the reality.

This is to say nothing about the possibility of right-wing counterprotests, which is also entirely possible except for the fact that right wingers around here tend to be massive pussies, if I can be so frank. Kind of people who do a damn burnout on a mural and drive away.  

The courthouse, also, is still closing early pending any changes. So while the Worcester Police say they had nothing to do with it, the court isn’t changing its mind. They’re shutting down. 

Still, people should get involved. If you want to get involved in the demonstrations tomorrow, here’s the link for the event. Starts at 6. I’ll be there, and I’d like to see your smiling faces as well. Come say hey!

As of writing this (it’s about 9:30 on Tuesday night) the election is very much undecided, and it’s my opinion we likely won’t know for a couple days. And that may be optimistic. This week will be fraught, tensions will run high, and there will assuredly be bursts of violence around the country. I really hope said bursts of violence don’t reach Worcester, but if they do, here are some things you should show up with tomorrow, should you decide to attend: 

-Goggles and an umbrella, in the event of pepper spray and/or tear gas. Goggles for your eyes, and umbrellas can help protect you and other people from direct blasts. 

-Gloves because you should not pick up a tear gas canister with your bare hands. With gloves, you can throw the canisters back and that’s just good American fun.

-Lots of water. Water is the best way to treat eye inflammation from tear gas, water cut with a bit of baking soda is also good, though baking soda is not entirely necessary. Do not use milk, it doesn’t work as well as people say it does, and it only really works against pepper spray, not tear gas. And despite the fact it’s literally a war crime the cops are more likely to use it.

-Thick clothing. Pepper-spray balls and rubber bullets are in play, as I’ve seen first hand here in Worcester. Dress accordingly. It’s gonna be cold anyway, so. 

Here’s a comprehensive guide for protest first aid. Field medics are always, always useful. 

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As always, please like and share and in this case share widely, because tomorrow is going to be a shitshow, I think. Also, if you think this is local journalism that is worth paying for please consider it, or consider signing a friend up or convinving your friend to sign up!

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See you tomorrow, folks. Buckle up. 

Also, p.s., I hit 500 subscribers the other day and I shotgunned a beer in case you didn’t see because that’s what any crappy Worcester dude like me would do in the extremely sick situation I find myself in.