OPINION: “New Bedford Police must make up for the four unjust murders due to excessive force”

“Dear New Bedford City Council Members and Elected Officials,

The recent report released by Citizens for Juvenile Justice “We are the Prey”, based on NBPD public data, illuminates serious racial disparities in police interactions in New Bedford. In a time where the nation is calling for change, it is our hope that New Bedford will use the information presented in this report to develop an equitable system of public safety in our community.

Mayor Mitchell recently stated, “We are committed to confronting any indication of systemic racism in public institutions.” We agree but we demand real action. It is time to stop pandering to those who would see a status quo that is deeply embedded in systemic racism to continue. It is time to pursue communication that is inclusive of voices from our communities that have been impacted by police practices.

New Bedford must make up for the unjust murders of Malcolm Gracia, Erik Aguilar, Morris Pina, and Larry Ruiz-Barreto. These killings are all part of the horrible legacy of cases that all used excessive force, illegal and unconstitutional approaches, and resulted in murder. Lester Lima and others that were shot in 1970 were not protected by NBPD, nor the judicial system. NBPD must stop subjecting our black men to intergenerational trauma. Let us return to the same values that made our city a beacon of safety and equality for the formerly enslaved.

As city council members elected to represent us and our fellow New Bedford residents, we are calling on you to take a stance for your constituents and to reject Councilor Brian Gomes’ claim that a report based on the critical academic analysis of the city’s data is “garbage” and dismiss his motion to denounce the report. We remind you that your duty is to serve your constituents and listen to the people, not to strengthen political alliances or ensure continued campaign donations from the NBPD union.

It is critical that you read and understand CFJJ’s response to the NBPD’s invalid claims of misrepresentation and miscalculation. Significant racial disparities exist in the Field Incident Report data no matter how you cut the data. CFJJ is clear that they counted the number of individual people and not the unique Field Incident Reports. CFJJ’s metric of analysis demonstrates the impact on actual people, and proves that people of color are disproportionately policed in New Bedford.

Not only are we asking you to reject Councilors Gomes and Carney’s dismissal of the findings in the CFJJ report, but we are asking you to take it a step further and use this as an opportunity to carry out your own objective data analysis, “meet and greet” your constituents, and involve us in creating and implementing meaningful change. We, the people of New Bedford, are making a motion to challenge you to engage in productive dialogue with your constituents about police racial profiling, especially those who have been directly impacted by it. We as a community have the power to make a difference.

Sincerely,
STAR-NB

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STAR-NB stands for Standing Together Against Racism-New Bedford. Justice for Malcolm Gracia is initially what brought STAR organizers together, and we continue the fight!

STAR’s mission is to work collectively with our allies to build an anti-racist community that works to: dismantle all forms of oppression; end state sanctioned violence; and build new supports for a healthy, safe, and thriving New Bedford.




Massachusetts State Police wanted Man, Brother Cannot Outrun MSP Air Wing

In the end, they couldn’t shake the Massachusetts State Police aircrew, so they surrendered to them.

Shortly before noon today Trooper Brian Gervais, assigned to State Police-Sturbridge, was stationary observing traffic on Route 84 eastbound in Sturbridge. At that time he observed a black Acura sedan pass his location with no front license plate.

Trooper Gervais entered traffic and proceeded to catch up to the vehicle. As they approached Exit 3 the Acura made erratic lane changes, cutting off other motorists, and exited Route 84. Trooper Gervais followed the vehicle and observed it make an illegal U-turn to again enter Route 84 eastbound. He immediately activated his cruiser’s emergency lights and siren in an attempt to stop the vehicle.

The Acura refused to stop at which point Trooper Gervais notified all area cruisers and stations that he was in pursuit of the vehicle. During pursuit Trooper Gervais observed the two front seat occupants switch places while the vehicle was moving. A short time later the Troop Duty Officer ordered termination with follow up investigation in an attempt to identify the occupants. The State Police Air Wing was monitoring communications and advised they had a visual of the vehicle.

While Air 5 was observing the Acura from a distance the operator continued to disobey traffic laws with no cruisers in pursuit. However, the vehicle eventually stopped and all parties exited surrendering to the Air Wing. Multiple cruisers arrived on scene and quickly took two of the vehicle’s occupants into custody. A third occupant was released from the scene without charges. They were transported to the Sturbridge Barracks and were booked on the following charges.

OSCAR SANTIAGO, 25, of Hartford, Conn.:

1. Reckless Operation of a Motor Vehicle;
2. Leaving the Scene of a Property Damage Crash;
3. Failure to Stop for Police;
4. Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle;
5. Attaching Plates Wrong Motor Vehicle Plates;
6. Operating an Unregistered Motor Vehicle;
7. Unlicensed Operation of a Motor Vehicle;
8. Speeding;
9. Breakdown Lane Violation;
10. Marked Lanes Violation;
11. Fail to Signal;
12. License Plate Violation;
13. Improper Turn; and
14. Passing Violation.

OMAR SANTIAGO, 25, of New Britain, Conn.:

1. Reckless Operation of a Motor Vehicle;
2. Leaving the Scene of a Property Damage Crash;
3. Failure to Stop for Police;
4. Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle;
5. Attaching Plates Wrong Motor Vehicle Plates;
6. Operating an Unregistered Motor Vehicle;
7. Speeding;
8. Breakdown Lane Violation;
9. Marked Lanes Violation;
10. Fail to Signal;
11. License Plate Violation;
12. Improper Turn; and
13. Passing Violation.




OPINION: “New Bedford’s Sacred Hearts Cemetery doesn’t realize the value of loved ones leaving items on gravestones”

“Hello, New Bedford Residents,

For those of you who may have loved ones at Sacred Hearts Cemetery on Mount Pleasant near the airport: I just found out that graves are not allowed to have metal decorations at the gravestones.

Apparently, for years now, the items that were placed at my family grave were taken. We were always under the impression that they were stolen but this week, a member of my family happened to be at the cemetery this week, and noticed that the items were gone again.

So they approached a cemetery worker. They were informed that metal decorations are not allowed. Gee, this was not known to us. Sadly not sure why?? The items were always close to the gravestone so if this is a grass cutting issue, it’s a poor one.

So “Thank You” Sacred Hearts Cemetery for not realizing the meaning of items at graves. What did we pay for??”-Wayne Gaboriault.




OPINION: New Bedford student frustrated with how the public school system is handling teaching

How are your kids handling schooling during the pandemic? These are unprecedented times and what our youth and teachers are going through while trying to maintain grades is something we’ve never gone through.

There is not only stress and anxiety about contracting COVID-19 but for students, there is a significant amount of stress about how the educators are teaching and about staying focused and undistracted so that they can get grades good enough for higher education in the future. Their grades today will be taken into account when they try to get into a university later and this added stress is highly frustrating as one young lady attending New Bedford High School has expressed. Here are her thoughts and feelings:

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“I absolutely hate having to go to school with this whole COVID thing.

First of all, no matter if you are home or whether at school they are not teaching you anything. They have you copy whatever the video says into a word document and have you send it in. HOW am I learning?! I’m not!

When I ask teachers for help it’s like my brain doesn’t even grasp what they are saying. I have ADD which makes it hard for me to stay focused and I basically can do whatever I want in the classes and not get yelled at.

I’m pretty sure that high school teachers before COVID would have yelled at you to do your work. NOPE not anymore! They just ignore what you are doing.

I understand we need to stay safe and protected with the COVID going around so easily but it’s not hard for a teacher who stands 6ft away from a desk to say ‘Look at the board.’ and teach us, Am I being ignorant?

These are my thoughts about the education system from the viewpoint of a 15-year-old student in New Bedford High School).”-Anonymous.




OPINION: New Bedford Youth Court: “Why time should be made for juvenile crime”

Your child is 10, maybe 15 years old. They post a picture on Instagram —someone else makes a rude comment — all hell breaks loose. Fists are thrown, authorities are called, and a criminal record follows them for years.

The unfortunate truth is that this could be your child if not for youth courts and the Global Youth Justice Movement. Often, the juvenile crime issue is swept under a rug; the United States and many other countries have “bigger issues” to deal with than a 12-year-old first-time offender with an assault and battery charge when there are kids in the same neighborhood working as drug mules. There has been a movement on the rise that I foresee changing the landscape for juvenile law reform. Youth courts are favorably impacting communities in the United States and around the world.

Despite their rise in popularity, youth courts are confusing to many people. Here is some insight.

A youth court is a juvenile diversion program that aims to reroute youth offenders from the traditional justice system by providing them an opportunity to strive towards a clean record and a better way of life. Thanks to community partnerships and Global Youth Justice, these peer-led programs span across five continents with over 1800+ programs. Scott Petersen, the CEO of Global Youth Justice, runs a series of training where current and aspiring youth court programs come together for workshops. Essentially, these training are a great way to collaborate and to provide youth courts a central spot for learning.

Rhode Island is the only state in the Union that does not have at least one youth court. One would expect that a liberal democratic state such as Rhode Island would enact such reform and diversion-esque programs, given their party’s typical agenda. The main point is that 49 of 50 states in America have united for this cause, Republican and Democrat alike. Youth courts from conservative states like Alabama and Texas to Liberal states like Massachusetts and California have a bright future. Both parties can see eye-to-eye the benefits of such a program.

The unfortunate reality is that the American justice system is crowded and clunky. The traditional system has the following perception: a criminal commits a crime and gets thrown in jail and the key somehow disappears. The goal is not rehabilitation. The system does not have time to deal with that offender over an assault and battery charge.

The problem with this type of justice is that there is no room for that individual to grow while they are still developing, and perhaps to change for the better. The significance here is youth court’s ability to work, teach, rehabilitate and divert youthful offenders from the system.

“Youth Court is a significant program because it not only gives first time offenders the opportunity to take ownership of their actions and work to fix the mistakes they made without lifetime consequences but it is also a program that allows young adults a role in learning more about the court system and their role in the justice system by giving them hands-on experience as attorneys and jurors” Terri Belliveau, South Coast Youth Courts – Director. A youth who goes through the youth court system does not receive a conviction, whereas the traditional system may indelibly stain their record.

Generally, youth courts have about an 86.3% success rate when it comes to completing sanctions, according to Global Youth Justice. One of the best parts of youth court is the hearing process. High school students get the opportunity to prosecute, defend, bailiff and judge these real case hearings. In addition, the judges or a jury of their peers impose the sanctions. The process is quite exhilarating. For the volunteer attorneys and judges, there is no other experience quite like this when it comes to courtroom experience. Volunteer attorneys learn to prep cases by interviewing witnesses and to actually present the case during the hearing, all in real time.

Youth Court is not a mock trial, it’s real people, real issues and real cases as they frequently mention as their motto. Irene Tresser, the Executive Director of Anchorage Youth Court, believes that “when youth are empowered to manage their own affairs, they will often rise to the occasion instead of just not listening to adults. Youth tend to be more receptive to their peers than adults.”

One important sanction that their peer jury is eligible to hand down is community service. According to Global Youth Justice, ninety-nine percent of all programs offer community service. These projects are meant to facilitate meaningful reparations and connect the respondent back to their community.

We can’t all make a difference in the world but we can all leave our unique mark behind. An investment in our children is an investment in a brighter future, better days are coming because the best is yet to come. Youth courts strive to make the time for juvenile crime, one hearing after another. Although not every case is a success story, youth court programs around the world increase the odds of success stories. Do your own research, get involved, and let these programs shine a light on the positive impact we can all make.

After all, these youth are going to be the future, they will be the ones running our communities and potentially running our nation.




OPINION: New Bedford man humiliated, disrespected, and “dragged through hell” by local RMVs

“Please take up the issue of poor logistics at motor and vehicle registration service centers in Massachusetts, especially nearby centers Fall River, New Bedford, and Taunton!

Thousands of people threatened with license suspension! The only ones responsible are the authorities and representatives of those centers, the main door guarded by security officers and police who are oppressing and disrespecting CITIZENS.

That main door should have expert representation from that agency and they should not leave that responsibility to police officers with little patience and who act unprofessionally. These individuals complicate the process and what we need to get done there. Then the RMVs proceed to manufacture offenses that suspend licenses and attach unfair fees and penalties which is unfair to low-income people.

On top of it, the service telephone line is appalling, it’s impossible to communicate by phone and even via the internet.

Please press everyone to take action! We should demand that the service centers change the way that they do things as soon as possible. That agency of power is very abusive towards the citizens of Massachusetts.

I have been through hell with that agency. I have days of bitterness because of being humiliated by members of those centers. I tell you, NBG, because if you investigate or launch an opinion poll about this agency, I guarantee you will see the reality of the abuse of power by this agency, and also the police and security agency involved in the whole mess.

There is already news coverage in the news about the suspension of licenses in Massachusetts and demand for something to be done.

If you [NBG] work for the good of the citizens you should give support to the victims.”-Nelson Nieves.




New Bedford woman feels she’s being harassed by the city because people are not cleaning up after their dogs

“So in the past several months we have had multiple visits from animal control, health department, and city infrastructure regarding animal feces.

We have a 13 yr old dog that we clean up after EVERY poop! We use to have nice rose bushes in our front ‘yard’ but gave up because people used it as a dog ‘dropping.’

Today after multiple visits we were told the next time would be a $100 fine! We are feeling harassed by the city! We were told unless we got pics we are liable.

Are we supposed to sit outside 24/7 and wait to catch pics? Maybe since we’ve told several departments of the problem they should park themselves and watch!”-Marcia Kennefick.


Marcia Kennefick photo.




Fairhaven woman shares frustration with getting COVID vaccine access for her home-bound Vietnam veteran husband

“I have known this was an issue but thought it would be figured out in a reasonable amount of time. I was wrong! So so wrong!

My husband is a disabled combat veteran (Vietnam) with advanced MS due to agent orange exposure. He has been home-bound for over a year and a half. There are NO provisions, NONE, for vaccinating the home-bound.

Our town COA was getting permission to be a local vaccination site and planned to have our EMS do home visits but that option was removed when the state/governor pulled all local vaccination options back to the state level. I’ve been told a 20-year old that smokes and is obese can be vaccinated. But that my husband cannot. (Not because he’s not eligible but because he cannot access the vaccine)!!!

I get that a large amount of this is logistics but seriously?? REALLY REALLY are you serious? WHO ARE WE?

Did I mention he’s homebound because he’s a combat veteran? Did I mention, (and I know it’s not part of this), but he’s also a Gold Star dad? Did I mention I had home health aides to help me with his care that we paid, (private pay), but I let them go because of COVID??

We have been on our own and he’s been home-bound for a long-time, over a year? Where is our assistance? We have always been self-sufficient and our family did more than our part to defend and support our country. Why are the home-bound forgotten?!! I know it’s not just us!

I hate to add but at least my husband has me as an advocate. There are probably so many that do not have that! What about others out there that cannot leave their homes and possibly the meals on wheels lady is their only contact/voice!? I have always been a moderate voice and a pull up by your own bootstraps person, (I’m a swamp Yankee!) “, but seriously…

WHO ARE WE??!!”-Lisa J Rodriguez.




OPINION: “It’s criminal that UMass Admins take 90% of the 100 slots of highest salary earners for Massachusetts”

In a recent Boston Globe article it was reported that the top 48 salaries for the Commonwealth were taken by UMass Administrators – to of whom make over $1 million annually.

Furthermore, the majority of the next 50 slots are also UMass admins.

Yet, for the past few years, UMass has been decrying the need to make up lost revenue by increasing tuition, putting schooling out of reach for even more people, or placing those attending the universities deeper in debt.

The irony is that most of the students attending these universities are liberal-leaning and often protest and rally against corporations and the 1% who hold most of the wealth. Yet, here they are helping put more money in their pockets.

Does anyone see what’s wrong with this? Is it not obvious that the reason the universities need to increase tuition is to maintain the absolutely ridiculously exorbitant salaries?

Here’s an idea: how about cut those 100 salaries by half? The admins would still be part of the 1%, and those wishing to find higher education can reap the benefits of lower tuition fees.

It gets worse: with the incoming Biden administration discussing forgiving student debt, it allows the problem to continue to be ignored. The rich will stay rich, the poor or middle class will still struggle and the broken, virtually criminal education system will persist.

If the Biden administration forgives student debt the UMass school system admins can prop their feet up on their desks, light themselves a Cuban cigar, crack open a bottle 1996 Dom Perignon Rose Gold Methuselah at $49,000, and chomp down some Beluga caviar as they laugh themselves all the way to the bank.

The jokes on you, the Massachusetts family trying to put their kids through school. Think about that next time you vote.




OPINION: SouthCoast dad: “You cant say you want politics kept out of the lessons and expect your child to have a ‘full education.'”

“Something to think about:

If parents want to keep politics out of schools how do we explain things like the branches of government, the different types of governments, the constitution, the declaration of independence, the bill of rights, the civil war, the revolutionary war?

You cant say you want politics kept out of the lessons and expect your child to have a ‘full education.’

• Learning about our founding fathers…POLITICS!
• Learning about your rights as an American…POLITICS!
• Learning about the past presidents of our nation…POLITICS!

And finally when your kid comes home asking you why they have classmates who dont get to eat at lunch like everyone else, explain to them about there being no room in the federal budget for school lunch programs and tell me that school isnt all about politics.

Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk!

You can agree or disagree I don’t care one way or the other, but as a parent myself I want my son to learn about politics and understand that everyone has their own opinion and he needs to form his own. Because politics can be a very dangerous thing.

How many of you remember being taught that Hitler had won a democratic election before he and the nazi party took over Germany?”-Timm Gardiner.

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