Following the deadly Jan. 11 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, Mayor Petty, as expected, condemned the insurrectionists.
“Wednesday was one of the darkest days in our nation’s history,” he said.
“The attack on the Capitol was unprecedented. This was not a protest, this was sedition – a planned armed revolt, egged on by Donald Trump.”
It was a strong statement, but it wasn’t strong enough.
It didn’t include Worcester’s plans to help pull the country’s democracy back from the abyss.
It didn’t because, as good a soul as he is, Mr. Petty is constrained by the ruling sentiments of city politics.
So, it was up to City Councilor Khrystian King, one of three minority councilors, to suggest the minimum required response.
He asked the city manager to “report back to City Council should any complaints be received relative to any off-duty City of Worcester employees partaking in the riot at the Capitol.”
Mr. King’s request shouldn’t be controversial. The Worcester Police Officials Union endorsed Donald Trump, the leader of the insurrection.
But here in Worcester, where the police can do no wrong, Mr. King is being charged with undertaking a witch hunt.
The charge, made on the city police officials union (IBPO Local 504) Facebook page, is ludicrous.
Tasked with upholding the country’s laws, preventing crime, and doing so in a neutral, nonpartisan manner, some police officers instead aided and abetted the rioters
That law enforcement individuals sided with the insurrectionists should scare us more than do the white supremacists and Nazi participants.
Some communities understand why this is so, and they are diligently investigating whether any of their officers journeyed to the Capitol to link arms with the rioters.
The Capitol Police has suspended three of their officers and is investigating 17 more for giving aid and comfort to the enemy.
Thomas Robertson, one of two Virginia police officers charged in connection with the riots, left no doubt about his allegiance.
He was quoted on social media as saying: “CNN and the Left are just mad because we actually attacked the government who is the problem and not some random small business…The right IN ONE DAY took the f***** U.S. Capitol. Keep poking us.”
City officials should pray that if or when the “right” storms city hall, our seat of government will be defended by police officers like Daniel Hodges–who was seen being crushed in a doorway by pro-Trump rioters–and not those like Robertson.
“They were waving the thin blue line flag and telling us ‘We aren’t your enemy’ while they were attacking us,'” Officer Hodges said.
“Some of them felt we would be fast friends because so many of them have been vocal…signaling their support of the police over the past year.
“They said ‘we’ve been supporting you through all this Black Lives Matter stuff’ you should have our back.
“And they felt like entitled. They felt like they would just walk out there and tell us that they are here to take back Congress, and we would agree with them and we would walk…hand in hand and take over the nation.
“Obviously that wasn’t the case and will never be the case.”
In a phone interview Monday, Mr. Petty said the city would undoubtedly investigate information “brought to our attention” that any Worcester employee was involved in the Capitol’s invasion.
But how can we take the mayor seriously?
Despite dozens of police brutality cases settled by the city over the years, Worcester has scorned the implementation of a police oversight board and a police body camera program.
So, what are the chances that Police Chief Steve Sargent, who is currently in court defending his decision to hide police misconduct from the public, would spill the beans on his officers?
How can we trust the city council to do the right thing in an election year, when defending the police at all cost is viewed as a prerequisite for a successful campaign by the majority of councilors?
Sgt. Anthony Petrone, vice president of the Police Officers Union, made it clear in a post on the group’s Facebook page that he is taking names.
“It’s not all of them,” he said in response to his group criticizing the city council for allowing Mr. King to file his order.
“Toomey, Bergman, Carlson, Colorio, Rosen do not believe in this bs!!.”
And therein lies the foundation of the insurrection.
Like many of their colleagues around the country, Worcester police and city officials would rather preserve their livelihoods than protect our democracy.