by Sam Skinner
Since November, the Independent Socialist Group (ISG) has campaigned to drop the charges against the anti-racist protestors who were brutally attacked and arrested on June 1st, 2020 in Worcester, MA. After a Black Lives Matter (BLM) rally sponsored by Councilor Krystian King on the afternoon of June 1st, a group of protestors continued to march through Worcester, eventually reaching the Main South neighborhood. Here they were confronted with dozens of heavily armed Worcester police officers using gas, pepper spray, and pepper projectiles to attack the peaceful demonstrators. The police then arrested anyone they could get their hands on, including bystanders filming the police from their front doors.
Police stole and destroyed many of the bystanders’ phones, and to this day the Worcester Police Department (WPD) has failed to produce any of the phones they illegally seized that night. The WPD’s official narrative is that the protestors were antagonizing and throwing rocks and bricks at police officers before being arrested. However, a mountain of video evidence from that night taken by those arrested shows the official narrative is an outright fabrication, made up after the fact by the WPD and City Hall to justify clamping down on the anti-racist movement.
Now, months after they were initially arrested, these protesters are still facing bogus criminal charges, brought forward by the Worcester District Attorney (DA). The police department, the police union, and the DA want to use this case to intimidate anti-racist protestors in Worcester, and to prevent a resurgence of the BLM movement in our city.
Throughout the trial, we have seen the judge repeatedly side with the DA over the defendants. Over the three court dates which have occurred, the judge has so far refused to allow any of the videos from the night of June 1st to be used as evidence, instead only allowing the WPD and the DA’s fabricated report to retell events. The judge was forced to drop some charges due to public pressure and lack of evidence.
However, all of those arrested on June 1st are still facing one or more criminal charges. At the last court date on March 8th, at least two—if not more—of the defendants were not even let into their own trials until 20 minutes after it started! If we want to get these charges dropped and defend the anti-racist movement, we need to take the fight out of the courtroom and into the streets. That’s why the Independent Socialist Group has been leafleting, standing out, and picketing to help build a movement to fight these bogus charges. If enough people in Worcester stand up for our right to assemble and protest, we can force these charges to be dropped.
This means we need to put pressure on the DA. You can find the number of the Worcester DA’s office, their email, and a calling script to use when demanding that the charge be dropped here: Put Pressure on City Officials: Join the Call-in Campaign!
We also need to put pressure on the city council. The councilors and the city manager say that they care about racial justice, but their actions speak louder than their words. At every step, the city council has acted to suppress the anti-racist movement, and shown itself to be an ally of the WPD, not the people of Worcester. No city councilor has spoken out to support the solidarity campaign or call for the charges to be dropped. The city council unanimously passed a police budget increase of $250,000 over the summer despite calls to defund the police at the height of the Black Lives Matter movement. We need to call on and pressure the city manager and every city councilor to come out in support of having the charges dropped. If the city council really believes that black lives matter, then they should be enthusiastically defending those in their city who were marching for just that on June 1st. Here is the contact information of each city councilor, and a calling script you can use when contacting them.
Finally, join us online and in the streets to fight repression of anti-racist protestors in Worcester! Subscribe to our email list and follow us on social media to be notified of in-person events we are having, such as picketing outside the courthouse. We need you and/or your organization to help us build the solidarity campaign! Get in contact with us for more details on how you can get involved!