Demonstrations after grand jury clears Kentucky cops
Multiple protests in Hub call for police accountability
Demonstrations sparked by a Kentucky grand jury’s refusal to indict officers in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor took over the streets of Roxbury, the South End and downtown Boston Friday evening through Sunday.
By 6 p.m. Friday, a crowd of several thousand had gathered in and around Justice Edward O. Gourdin Veterans Memorial Park in Nubian Square to listen to speakers who called for police reforms and expressed solidarity with the victims of police shootings and their families.
College professor Lanita Foley, who says she’s been to numerous protests in the last few years, said little has changed since the Black Lives Matter movement gained national prominence in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer.
“Forty-eight black women have been killed by the police since 2015 and only one person has been held accountable — one police officer — and that’s just not acceptable,” she said.
District 4 City Councilor Andrea Campbell, who has proposed several reforms to the Boston Police Department, including a civilian review board, said she came to the rally to express solidarity with the demonstrators.
“This is about pain and suffering, but in the end, coming together to support one another and say, at least in this city, we stand for justice and equity and accountability,” she told the Banner. “We have to live up to that.”
After a round of speeches, the demonstrators made their way down Malcolm X Boulevard to Columbus Avenue and Tremont Street, stopping briefly in front of the Boston Police Headquarters before heading to City Hall.
On Saturday, hundreds of cyclists gathered in Franklin Park for a Ride for Black Lives. Later in the day, the Boston branch of the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) met in Nubian Square, and the Massachusetts Action Against Police Brutality (MAAPB) met in Ramsay Park, both calling for justice for Taylor.
After a large crowd had gathered, the MAAPB’s truck made its way into Gourdin Park and the crowds converged.
MAAPB is dedicated to reopening the cases of incarcerated people they claim to be wrongly convicted. On Saturday, speakers demanded that Taylor’s case be reopened as well, and Boston families affected by police violence attended in solidarity.
PSL and MAAPB coordinated beforehand that they would meet and march together. They traveled to Franklin Park to conclude their joint demonstration.
Sunday’s gathering began at Dudley station with a smaller crowd in the rain. The emphasis was on healing from the grief of Taylor’s death and prioritizing Black women — the entire event was led by young Black women from For The People Boston. One organizer who goes by the name Virtue Kofa said it was a particularly emotional day.
“A big part of today is just honoring Breonna, for just existing and for being a Black woman, and nothing other than that, because that is powerful in itself,” she said. “I just hope people feel more in community today, because Boston is not a unified place.”
Kofa also was glad to see two city councilors and a state legislator at the beginning of the protest. She briefly spoke with Campbell, at-large city Councilor Michelle Wu and state Rep. Nika Elugardo.
Elugardo told the Banner, “Something organized by and for Black women and femmes, in honor of and in protest against the events around Breonna Taylor is so powerful and empowering to me as a Black woman.”
Demonstrators with FTP marched from Dudley Station to Boston Common, making stops along the way for healing ceremonies, testimonies and speeches from residents and artists.