The Lowell Sun reports some disturbing details from state Sen. Jim Marzilli‘s arraignment this morning on charges of sexual assault. According to Sun reporter Lisa Redmond, the Arlington Democrat tried approaching another woman hours before he was chased
and pepper-sprayed by Lowell police after he allegedly tried to grope a woman on an outdoor bench.
A trio of Boston Globe reporters pass along some nasty details as well, including an allegation that Marzilli initially identified himself by the name of another state legislator (nice touch!), and that police say he broke down and said his life was over upon being arrested. Ugh. And here is the Boston Herald’s update.
As we know, Marzilli was just cleared in a more ambiguous situation. It’s impossible not to evaluate what happened yesterday in light of that. Needless to say, it doesn’t look good.
Marzilli is a smart, hard-working legislator with a strong reformist impulse. In August 2003, I wrote a profile for the Boston Phoenix of then-House Speaker Tom Finneran, who was under fire for his authoritarian streak. Marzilli, then a state representative, had a characteristically smart take, telling me:
Tom Finneran is not the devil. He is a man of enormous talent and intellect, and he is one of the most charismatic people you’ll find. He is at the same time very conservative, and he has a very controlling manner. He wants to be in charge. Now those are not bad characteristics automatically. But in an institution of legislators who are spending less and less time and attention on public-policy matters, it’s dangerous for our democracy. It’s dangerous because a conservative ideology dominates with precious little dissent or input, for that matter.
In an era when liberals are often accused of being socialists, it’s interesting to note that Marzilli actually is one. He chaired (PDF) the Boston Democratic Socialists of America in the 1980s, and his name has continued to pop up in DSA literature in recent years.
Tuesday update: It’s now clear, according to Lowell police reports, that Marzilli was not pepper-sprayed; rather, he was told that if he didn’t stop resisting arrest, he would be. At least one early news report that I saw stated that he had been pepper-sprayed, so I’m not calling this a correction.