by Samuel Skinner
Yesterday, November 20th, court proceedings began for the people arrested back in June in Worcester, MA while participating in the anti-racist movement. On the night of June 1st, heavily armed Worcester Police followed and antagonized a group of peaceful protesters in the Main South neighborhood, before indiscriminately attacking and arresting protesters and bystanders alike. Charges against those arrested included disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace, and failure to disperse from a riot. The first two charges were leveled against anyone within the vicinity of the protest, even against those who were calmly filming the events unfolding from their own property. The second charge was leveled despite no riot occurring, and despite the order to disperse being issued by the police over a quarter of a mile away and several hours before any of these arrests occurred.
Since the night of the arrests, dozens of videos and live streams of the event have been posted online, showing clearly that these peaceful protesters were attacked by the police, and that those people arrested were simply exercising their democratic rights to protest injustice and to film the actions of the police. The decision by the District Attorney to prosecute these citizens despite the amount of clear evidence showing their innocence makes it clear that these charges are political in nature, meant to hurt the anti-racist movement, and scare people out of the streets.
While yesterday’s hearing ended with many of the more egregious disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace charges being dropped, many arrestees are still facing charges. If these charges go to trial, it is likely many arrestees will be forced into a plea for a crime they did not commit in order to avoid the costly legal battle against the State. This is why the Independent Socialist Group is organizing the solidarity campaign, with the support of the Central Massachusetts and Pioneer Valley chapters of the Green-Rainbow Party, Worcester for a Peoples Party, and Defund-WPD, to fight for the charges to be dropped immediately for these victims of police and state violence.
While the court hosted the proceedings over Zoom from inside the Courthouse, over thirty people were picketing outside with the slogan, “Drop the Charges!” On the Zoom call, supporters of the solidarity campaign packed the virtual courtroom with profile pictures displaying the same slogan – “Drop the Charges!” This Sunday at 2 pm outside of Worcester City Hall, the solidarity campaign will once again call for the political attacks to be dropped, and for the forming of a coalition of organizations in Worcester to fight against political repression and in defense of the anti-racist movement. If you are an individual or part of an organization in Worcester that would like to join the solidarity campaign, contact the Independent Socialist Group online, or come talk to us at City Hall on Sunday. You can read more about the solidarity campaign here.