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Demonstrators rally for justice on MLK Day

Morgan C. Mullings
Staff reporter covering state and local politics. Report for America Corps Member. VIEW BIO
Demonstrators rally for justice on MLK Day
Demonstrators march from Housing Court to the JFK federal building. PHOTO: MORGAN C. MULLINGS

On a day where thousands took to social media to repost quotes from the sermons of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., his daughter Bernice King reminded her followers that most of the people quoting her father “would likely hate him.”

“Please don’t act like everyone loved my father. He was assassinated,” King said via Twitter the morning of Jan. 18.

Local activists echoed that sentiment during a rally later that day, calling for action behind the sentiments shared on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Violence in Boston founder Monica Cannon-Grant

Violence in Boston founder Monica Cannon-Grant. PHOTO: MORGAN C. MULLINGS

A crowd began to gather in front of Madison Park High School’s front entrance at 3 p.m., where Monica Cannon-Grant, founder of Violence in Boston, and other speakers prepared to address the group from the bed of a pickup truck.

The original plan was to meet in front of the high school and then march about three miles to the State House in a “day of service.” However, Cannon-Grant notified her followers via Twitter that they would no longer march to the State House because of safety concerns.

Cannon-Grant wrote in all caps on her account @ProRockThrower, “Due to intel we have been gathering all week. we will not march to State House. we will rally at Madison Park only. I do not want my people harmed by law enforcement and or white supremacist[s].”

Violence in Boston, Inc. organized the rally with Black Lives Matter Boston and the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice at Harvard Law School.

After speakers including former City Councilor Tito Jackson and criminal justice advocates Sean Ellis and Darrell Jones, Cannon-Grant returned to the truck bed to encourage action.

“I don’t want the tweets. You can keep the tweets, you can keep the hashtags, you can keep the Facebook posts. We need help, real help. This country is about to go through it,” Cannon-Grant said, referencing the movement of white supremacists and Trump supporters that have caused violence at the U.S. Capitol and state capitols around the country.

Though she didn’t specify whether she or her group received direct threats, she did remind the crowd that white supremacist movements exist as a threat to Black life in Boston.

“And every time these attacks happen, they hit the Black community first,” she said. “And this is not to isolate any other person of color, but oftentimes that we forget the Black experience is exclusive.”

The rally ended about 45 minutes after it began, when Cannon-Grant asked the group to “plug in” to their community, donate to organizations on the ground, and use actions instead of words to honor King.

In a separate demonstration Monday organized by Mass Action Against Police Brutality, more than 100 protestors marched from Grove Hall to Ramsay Park in Lower Roxbury.