Posted on
Clive McFarlane

The Gangs of Worcester

The notorious African American street gang, the Crips, is terrorizing Worcester residents.

That is what the Worcester police department is alleging, and the Worcester Telegram is selling.

Well, I’m not buying it.

I’m not saying there aren’t people out there shooting at each other and the innocent.

The coronavirus didn’t wipe out the underlying causes of gang activity. If anything, the virus perhaps added another underlying factor–stir craziness.

However, I’m not ready to buy the WPD’s allegation that the Crips have joined forces with Worcester youth gangs and are, according to the T&G, “playing a role in the increasing number of shootings that are terrorizing residents in recent weeks.”

I’m not buying it, because I don’t trust the WPD to tell us the truth.

How do I know the department is not playing up an alleged local Crips connection as a scare tactic to blunt effort to effect local accountability of the police department?

I want to give the department the benefit of the doubt, but what has it done during this national reckoning on race to earn our trust?

Well, Police Chief Steve Sargent, who joined the force in 1986, told the T&G that in his tenure he “has not seen any overt or straight-up bigotry … anything that I as a white male officer would see as racism.”

“I would never tolerate any form of bigotry or racism. It’s just not acceptable in the police force.”

But the chief’s claim seems scarily mendacious when you compare it with the experience of former WPD Officer Al Toney, who joined the force 1987, a year after the chief did.

Mr. Toney told the T&G that he experienced as “many as 100 incidents of racism, institutional or systemic racism, and homophobia…from white officers during his time as a Worcester police officer.”

I suppose Chief Sargent’s denial of racism on the WPD makes sense, if we looked at it, as he does, from a white male officer’s point of view.

Of course, many of us don’t have that privilege.

I want to believe racism doesn’t exist in the WPD, but its official union social media page, which constantly spews venom and threats against Black Lives Matter supporters, deters me from forming such an opinion.

So, it is hard for me to buy the allegation that the Crips have joined forces with the city’s Eastside gangs to go after the city’s Kilby/Main South gangs.

It’s hard because I know the WPD has a history of loosely applying gang affiliations to youths of color, and I know the department tends to police community colors by any means necessary. 

In 2018, local civil rights lawyer Hector Pineiro submitted a 749-page document to local, state and federal prosecutors, in which he alleged that WPD officers habitually lie, fabricate and stage evidence, file malicious charges and suppress exculpatory evidence.

The T&G filed a lawsuit in 2018 seeking the internal affairs investigation reports on cases referred by Mr. Pineiro. The suit is still pending, as the city and the WPD work in tandem to keep that information under wraps.

So, you have to be skeptical about the information they are giving us on alleged Eastside, Crips and Kilby gang activities.

To tell you the truth, I’m more concerned about the gang activity emanating from the White House and police departments across the country.

We know many police departments are staging “Blue Lives Matter” counter protests.

We know dozens of officers across the country have walked off the job to push back against efforts to stop them murdering black people.

And we know President Trump is using masked federal agents in unmarked vehicles and without name tags or unit designations to snatched people off the streets of Portland, a tactic the president promised to deploy in other cities control by Democrats.

So, when the WPD talks about Crips terrorizing city residents, all I hear is Junior Murvin singing in my head, “Police and thieves in the street, scaring the nation with their guns and ammunition.”


  1. Needed something for the deadline. Easy to cast judgement when you don’t have a damn clue what goes on behind closed doors or in the streets for that matter. Can’t wait for the day the CRIPS are in your face or in your home and you need to call the WPD. Funny how they will still run toward what you’ll turtle from. They’ll have your ass but apparently you could care less about theirs.

  2. Thank you for that piece. I appreciate that there are historical documents backing things up and that there is a case in the works. It’s unfortunate that the WPD and city are stalling and not letting it go forward. Their lack of transparency does nothing but detract from any sort of good reputation they’re trying to maintain they have.

  3. I’m grateful for your reporting. You and Bill Shaner are two of the few in the city whom I trust. I came to Worcester in 2014 and I’ve learned a lot about its recent history by reading your work.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *