Open Letter to the Editor of the Worcester Telegram and Gazette

Just emailed this off to the T&G in response to their dangerously biased and uninformed article about yesterday’s powerful action organized by SURJ Worcester and attended by many different groups and individuals from our community.

Dear Editor,

In your 8/14/17 article “Anarchists show up at anti-racism rally at City Hall” author Mark Sullivan seems disturbingly fixated on casting some white protestors as good and others as dangerous. According to Sullivan’s article, 250 of us, many of us parents (like my husband and I) with our children (like mine who excitedly made her own sign with the help of the Just Us! League) were part of a “family friendly” event. These other parents just want love and peace, says Sullivan. They couldn’t do nothing. But there was a more sinister element afoot..

“Not 20 feet away from the family group, on the fringe of the crowd, stood several Antifa protesters, some wearing kerchiefs and black masks on their faces, holding signs that read “Resist Racism: Solidarity with Charlottesville.”

Wait? A sign about racism at an anti-racist protest? What violent, angry radicals!

There was no violence. There was not even any property damage (which, yes, are different things). The protesters moved off the street quickly, and the police nearly matched them in number. But according to Sullivan, they “scaled” the STAIRS of City Hall’s outdoor balcony. A feat his own photographer also seems to have been able to do in order to get a crowd shot. I guess it didn’t warrant such a sensationalist verb then.

Which brings me to my main point- this article is laden with an agenda but purports to be straight news. As a media educator, I’m actually fine with biased sources, as long as they’re transparent about their bias, but I’m not sure Sullivan even recognizes his. It’s right there in the article though- “Ms. [Etel] Haxhiaj [of SURJ], interviewed in advance of the rally, was asked about Antifa. She declined to comment on the group.” Why would she have to comment on the group? Unless, from the beginning of the rally your reporter was looking to tell one story about the rally, that it just didn’t fit.

None of us were confused about why we were there- to stand against racism. But instead of quoting any of the many speakers, like 17 year-old SIM organizer Isabella Corazzini or Imrana Soofi of Muslim Community Link, your reporter chose to cover in detail his own sad conversation with some protesters who made the grave mistake of NOT WANTING TO TALK TO HIM. Did they swear at him? Yes. And he seems more upset about that than the violent racism everyone was there to protest. But those of us working toward justice in our community won’t be so easily turned against our neighbors working slightly differently toward justice.

These are scary times. Given the choice between young people standing up against racism and a reporter who seems scared to even call it out, I know who I want on our team. I hope that the T&G sends reporters with less of a personal agenda to future protests. That piece was embarrassing and truly disappointing.