On Wednesday, InsideLowell reported that so-called “First Amendment Auditors” showed up at Lowell City Hall.
Their appearance occurred the same morning of a Lowell Sun Editorial about their antics and just days after another Sun article about their visit to Chelmsford Town Hall and other local municipalities.
Interestingly, a Sun reporter was with the “Auditors” to chronicle their interactions for a story published Thursday morning.
I had received feedback and comment on their visit from City Clerk Michael Geary prior to publishing our report, then followed up with a discussion with the City’s Treasurer, Ted Panagiotopoulos, whose office was the first visited. Both painted a picture of rather uneventful exchanges, though the Treasurer did note they asked him if he “woke up on the wrong side of bed” as he expressed concern their video recording was “making some of the staff uneasy.”
(Full disclosure before proceeding; Panagiotopoulos is my cousin and we generally interact or spend time together socially on a weekly basis. Though it should also be noted that prior to Wednesday, we have a rule that discussions about his job or daily occurrences at work are off limits, for obvious reasons)
So it was with great interest I read the Sun story this morning and chuckled at the reporter’s recap of the stop in the Treasurer’s Office. Well aware of my cousins strengths and weaknesses, I’m confident in saying “unprofessional” at work is not one of them. Attempting to defend his staffers who didn’t want cameras in their face is an admirable trait, in my book. But he’s a well paid department head and a big boy. He can defend himself.
The most troubling exchange, however, came with an Engineering Department Clerk in which the Sun article states “Auditor” Joshua Abrams called the man “stupid,” a “waste of space” and a “piece of sh*t.” So when the YouTube video of their visit to City Hall was posted later Thursday, I made sure to watch.
What I saw was a sad individual pretending to be a 1st Amendment champion, when in reality he is little more than a 21st century troll trying to generate confrontation for clickbait under the guise of protecting a citizen’s right to know.
Nothing wrong with that, especially in the digital age we now live in. Hell, I’ve been known to do some social media trolling on occasion. I also care very much about the First Amendment, and found absolutely nothing informative or revealing about government operations. Having conducted an interview or two in my 30+ years in media, I also didn’t hear a single question that was intended to expose any government malfeasance or attempt to “suppress information.”
Then again, when your “cause” involves trying to embarrass people just trying to do their jobs, including clerks lucky to make $50,000 a year, by sticking a camera in their face, you’re actually exposing more about yourself than any government employee.
The first hint at what Mr. Abrams is all about is the title of the YouTube video; “MORONS DESTROYED BY SAVAGE CITIZEN WITH NEWS CREW!”
As if the awarding of “savage citizen” status on oneself isn’t enough to make you tremble, the all caps most definitely clinches it.
“I’m willing to take an apology, or I’m willing to take your job,” Abrams ranted at the Clerk. “But I’m not going to leave Lowell without one of those two things.”
Quite the public service this freedom fighter is providing, huh? Ridding the planet of clerks one at a time!
Luckily, City Manager Tom Golden doesn’t strike me as the type to be bullied into firing an employee who really didn’t do anything wrong, other than refusing to indulge Mr. Abrams delusions of journalistic grandeur.
By now you might be wondering; who exactly is Joshua Abrams?
Here’s your answer; a convicted felon who has himself been the subject of numerous “public records” reports. In an interesting twist, the conviction that landed him in prison and still has him on probation is the result of a guilty plea in October 2020 to a string of armed robberies in Lowell. Yes Mr. Abrams, cameras and the internet point in the other direction, too.
Let’s go the headlines, no “All Caps” necessary:
Seems the Globe was smart enough to do a little reporting on the Auditor, rather than giving them oxygen as they insulted and swore at City employees.
Yup, this “Auditor” seems to have a proclivity for harassing police on camera.
And the pièce de résistance, as the French say, is Mr. Abrams fondness for robbing minority owned businesses in Lowell, female employees and even their 15-year old children….while sometimes brandishing a knife or pretending he has a gun. Quite the tough guy, eh?
There’s more. A simple Google search of the words “Joshua Abrams Conviction” will tell you a few more things about Cedar Junction Josh, but we’ll leave that task to you.
So there you have it. Our own “audit” of the self-described “Auditor” who has become famous around these parts over the last week, but has in reality prowled the Lowell streets for years. Thanks for visiting the city, again, Mr. Abrams. Will we see you again during your next probation hearing?
P.S. The clerk still has his job!