SOURCES: THIRD THURSDAY BRAWL WAS A PLANNED RUMBLE; DID BIANCHI HAVE POLICE INTEL THAT CAUSED HIS ORIGINAL DECISION TO CANCEL? EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE, ANALYSIS HERE … 15-YR. OLD GANG MEMBER MAKES GUN-TOTING CLAIM … plus … BB FOLLOWS GOB ORDERS IN ANONYMOUS COMMENTS
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, TUESDAY, MAY 22, 2012) — Men will keep on laughing and children will love their shouts, and there will be joy in Pittsfield even after the first 3rd Thursday strikes out.
Admittedly, THE PLANET would not rank this heroic couplet in the manner of “Casey at the Bat” among our best verse, although we do see the utilitarian merit. In prose, we were even more direct, that the city’s hasty action to reinstate Third Thursday after Mayor Dan Bianchi had canceled the event over “public safety concerns” had put the Sports illustrated Cover Jinx on the event. Over the wounds did we then prophesy. More than 100 out-of-control teens fulfilled our prophecy. We are Daniel in the Lion’s Den.
One for Brawl and Brawl for One: Four Third Thursday Considerations
First, we shall note the outstanding work of the Pittsfield Police Department in defusing a slice-and-dice situation. Only their quick work and cool heads prevented the situation from getting ugly and — to coin a word — “mayhemic.” As you will read, though, they had a leg up on events, it appears. Second, we will point out that overall attendance dipped well below 2,000: too much for a flop but not enough for even a mild success. Third, we will not press on with the “We told you so” bit. Suffice it to say we called the trouble before it happened. Fourth, we present the most important remaining question: Was the brawl that broke out shortly before 8 p.m. a Third Thursday event or not? Read on, our dear friends.
In arriving at an answer, we corresponded with a source from the PPD. The detective gave us information not presented to the Boring Broadsheet. We also heard from several people who were present that night as well as one of the brawlers. In addition, we spoke to several North Street merchants. All spoke with the promise of anonymity. Incidentally, THE PLANET wasn’t the only media type who couldn’t get “real deal” comments with names attached. Ask Brandon Walker of YNN.
‘Fat Man’ Provides a Vital Clue
We also had a clue of confirmation from our good friend, ex-talkmeister Bill “The Fat Man” Sturgeon, who will be turning up on the local airwaves again, soon, according to the intelligence being received by the Secret Squadron (We can say no more). It’s interesting how one can pick up a fact here, a tidbit there, and put them together to see the picture.
Sturgeon, among others, noted on Facebook the brawl was gang-related. Think about it: Gangs are, by definition and action, organized groups. Many if not most time, when gangs act, they do so as part of of planning. This clue, along with the information we turned up, would lead a reasonable person to conclude:
(a) The brawl was planned.
(b) Third Thursday provided the venue.
(c) Therefore, the melee and Third Thursday are connected. You can say, and make the case, that Third Thursday enabled the brawl. So, Was the brawl that broke out shortly before 8 p.m. a Third Thursday event or not?
The answer to the question, please.
[VANNA WHITE WALKS ONSTAGE. SOUND OF ENVELOPE OPENING] And the answer is: “Yes.”
Detective Sherlock: Police had an Inkling Trouble was Brewing. Is THAT Why Bianci Initially Canceled the Event?
Detective Sherlock made it clear that the youths would not have been there, at that time, in so confined a space, without the attraction of Third Thursday. Sherlock also noted the escalating nature of teen desensitization to violence (a whole other societal problem facing Pittsfield that we can’t begin to address here), which makes it “more likely than not” that this type of behavior will occur again at a future Third Thursday.
More interestingly, and this we did not know, but the detective said the PPD and city hall have met about this problem, specifically with respect to the first Third Thursday of the year!
Detective Sherlock did not mean to say that there had been a specific threat, but there is reason to believe there was enough concern to warrant an unusual state of preparedness on the part of the PPD on Thursday night, May 17. That likely explains how the PPD responded so quickly and ably. Forewarned is forearmed.
One eyewitness to both the brawl (at Melville and First streets) and the Third Thursday events that preceded it, told THE PLANET she noticed that police pretty much stayed off of North Street itself in the heart of TT, with only a handful at the mouth of the Park Square and Columbus Avenue book ends. That looks like tactical defense and a sharp deployment. A person in her store, who gave the name Linda H, used such phrases as “ghetto scum,” and “teen white trash” to describe the brawl participants.
PPD: Win-Win, and, Bianchi Knew More than He Let On
The PPD created a win-win situation: If there was no trouble, our detective source said, the police didn’t tie up manpower. If there WAS trouble, with advanced alertness, troops could be mustered quickly.
Did Mayor Bianchi knew more than he let on about the reason for his actions to cancel the event? That is a reasonable interpretation of what followed on May 17. In hindsight, if this information is correct, all the more reason to reiterate what THE PLANET argued at the time: The mayor should have stuck to his original position and not reinstated the venue.
The excuse Bianchi gave for his cancellation, a vague concern for public safety based on street construction, didn’t ring up on the register. Seems more likely that he had reason to believe there would be trouble for other reasons, from other quarters. The gangs go hand in had with Pittsfield drug traffic, Det. Sherlock said, and there is “no reason to believe what you had [on May 17 TT] was a fluke.” The city would do well to rethink having the TT event, knowing of the real risk of violence and mayhem. Bianchi wouldn’t comment, referring media inquiry to the PPD.
According to Brandon Walker of YNN, the six arrested were Kamaar Tagliaferro, 18; Shatei Logan, 18; Joseph Wiggins, 19; Christopher Carr, 17; and two 15 year olds, one male and one female.
Teen Mob Took Part in Third Thursday, Sources Agree
Our sources agreed upon one important fact: The youths began to assemble long before the Third Thursday festivities concluded. Thus, we can say Third Thursday became the enabler for the settling of what seems to be a pre-planned rumble along the lines of Jets versus Sharks. The Boring Broadsheet missed this in its coverage, whiffed, in fact. YNN got to the edges of this fact, saying police (who did not go on camera) says the brawl was caused by a group of 100 youths. In other words, it wasn’t just two girls. The 100+ of the Little Darlings were already there. Besides the gang members, sources say YOUTH ALIVE step team members also got in their licks.
Witnesses said they noticed the youths milling about suspiciously well before 8 p.m., including many members of a well-known gang that has been a headache for downtown for a couple of years. One store merchant said she even notified the police of her concern. That could have led to the quiet mobilization of the responding force, who, as we say, moved with alacrity and preparedness.
One of the brawlers, who called himself “Sterpid,” laughed off the incident in language that we can’t permit to be read on THE PLANET. This 15-year-old said the rumble had its origins earlier in the week with two girls, one of whom had “disrespected” the other. Naturally, it was over a jealous boy. According to our teen brawler, oral sex, tattoos, and drugs (crack cocaine) were factors. The story became hard to follow.
Alarmingly, our 15-year-old said he and “others” were “packing.” He claimed they had guns and fled the moment the cops arrived. We don’t know if this was teen-age male bragging (we think it was), but we hope future Third Thursdays don’t call the youth on it.
We asked him, why would you rumble at Third Thursday? Sterpid just laughed and shrugged.
Post-brawl, GOB got to Work with the Message: ‘The Fight Had Nothing to Do with Third Thursday’ … or … ‘Yes, Virginia, there is a Renaissance’ … or … Mama, Don’t Let Your Babies Go Up to Third Thursday … BB’s Ned Oliver Worth Reading
One of the merchants told THE PLANET that she has concerns about future gatherings: “People can’t go out and have fun any more without the fear of something like [the brawl] happening.” She praised the police, and said, “Looking back, I wish the mayor had stuck to his guns” in canceling the event. Walker interviewed witness Marrizah Roussow, who works downtown. Roussow told Walker she hopes the melee will put “an end” to Third Thursday. The event, several merchants we talked to agree, has blackened the eye of Pittsfield and will continue to draw the Bad Element.
In the soon-aftermath of the melee, the GOB had some of its “usual suspects” quick on the draw to get out the word that the brawl wasn’t in any way connected with Third Thursday. The flacks and mouthpieces got out the unconvincing word that the Renaissance is in full bloom and that the derelicts, transients, and now, the teen gang violence, were illusions created by THE PLANET, sunspots, or subterranean waters. As our coverage suggests, most people know otherwise.
The BB led the cheerleading, writing, in commentary without a byline, that “the incident doesn’t reflect on the successful Third Thursday events that preceded it.” The anonymous comment ignored the clues that a little bit of looking would have turned up, but the BB wasn’t interested in the Truth of the story, which we have presented here.
As for the “success” of the event, the BB called TT “extremely well attended,” an assessment that did not match with reality. To make sure the BB pleased its GOB masters, the anonymous editorial said the brawl “should have no impact on the popular downtown party,” only to contradict itself later in the same sentence, saying the court proceedings involving the arrested teens “may provide some insight.” They wrote this on Saturday.
BB management, one of our veteran newsroom friends tells us, took some GOB heat from running an account of the brawl the previous day. We credit the paper for running the story they did, well written and reported by Ned Oliver. They had no choice but to print, our scribe spy said told us, knowing THE PLANET would have something today on the brawl. We heard Oliver had to fight for his piece. Is Ned Oliver the new Conor Berry?
THE PLANET again serves for the betterment of the community! But, Oh, the Jakes Give the Kapanskis a Hangover
Fact is, THE PLANET has made some headway in pushing the BB to be better, if only by a tad. We note, for example, the fine piece in today’s paper, again by Oliver, on how the city’s treatment of fire fighter James Rawson, with chief culprits being mainly acting Fire Chief Bob Czerwinski (and candidate for registrar of deeds Jody Philips‘ Significant Other) and then-Mayor Jimmy Ruberto. Ruberto manned up in commenting to Oliver on his decision. Czerwinski hid behind his woman’s skirts, or somewhere else, by not responding to Oliver’s request for comment. He also failed to respond the last time we called him for comment. Remember the chief’s Big Letter to THE PLANET, when our reportage was hitting a little too close to home, how we were reporting on innuendo and fairy dust, and all we had to do was contact him for straight answers.
Yeah, right, Chief Bobbo.
Bobbo’s men were missing today. A busload of Pittsfield Jakes were headed to NYC today to complete in a stair-climbing fund-raiser. On board were six cases of beer. The Jakes repaired to an Irish pub after the event, to sample the spirits.
No one got drunk. No one got drunk. No one got drunk. No one got drunk. No one got drunk. No one got drunk. No one got drunk. No one got drunk. No one got drunk. No one got drunk.
Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski, in the name of Pittsfield taxpayers, got the hangover, however, and the bill. Taxpayers, we hear from a well-placed source, paid for this Big Apple Bachanal Bash down to the last drop.
Way to go, Chief Jody’s Man.
IT IS SPRING. WE LOVE IT. WE ARE IN LOVE. GOD IS LOVE. LOVE IS EVERYWHERE. WE LOVE THE FLOWERS: ‘BRAVE FLOWERS, THAT WE COULD BE GALLANT LIKE YOU AND BE AS LITTLE VAIN.’
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.