On Saturday, approximately fifteen-hundred people protested police brutality and systemic racism in the streets of Boston. Protesters meet at the State House around noon.
A few of the organizers spoke, calling for the end of violent and oppressive policing in both Boston and across the country.
After speaking briefly, the microphone was turned over to people in the crowd who wanted to share their own stories about their experiences with the Boston police. Several people from the audience took to the State House steps to give voice to their own injustices at the hands of law enforcement.
The protesters were much more diverse than other actions that I've photographed in both age, ethnicity, race and sexual orientation. Many protesters carried signs linking the struggle for GLBTQ equality and police violence against black men as a part of the same fight for universal human rights.
At this march I saw more than a few white protesters with signs with some variation of "White Silence = State Violence (or Complicity). It was one of the more common messages beside the countless "Black lives Matter" and "I Can't Breathe" carried by marchers.
After about twenty minutes of speaking the march began. The stated destination was the Nashua Street Jail, near the Boston Garden.
Most of the people at the front of the march were in their twenties or early thirties, familiar faces from many other like protests in the recent weeks. There was one older black gentleman who also always seemed to be at the front of the march, in front of or just behind the "Shut It Down" banner.
I ended up with photos of him in all fazes of the protest, in the front of the march, at the front of the die-ins and in every photo he has the same look of determination.
The overall pace of the march was only slightly faster than previous large, recent protests but unlike other ones this one did not stop at major intersections for die-ins. In previous actions, intersections would be taken over for five to fifteen minutes. During this march, many of the streets were already empty. Police had already, blocked or rerouted traffic in advance of protesters arriving.
During the "Enough is Enough" protest in Boston after the non-indictment of the police officer who choked Eric Garner to death, a group of protesters followed by myself were able to make it on to the I-93 connector ramp to block highway traffic. As protesters approached that same connector ramp it became clear the police had no intention of allowing a similar thing from happening again.
In what would be a recurring sight during the days march, police arrayed to block protesters from major roadways. No protesters made any attempt to breach this police line.
If the protester's intent was to shut down normal traffic and business in Boston, the response of the police helped only accomplish that goal. Around this same time I opened up Google Maps on my iPhone and took a screenshot of the current traffic situation around downtown Boston. Granted there was some construction reported, I can't imagine that there's usually this much red on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
In the picture of the State Trooper above, you can see a line of cars in the background. I can't begin to guess how car back that line went into the tunnel. It was like this at almost every major intersection protesters marched through. Police officers were already there, blocking protesters from taking vital roads by blocking traffic on those vital roads themselves.
This preventative street closure would be escalated after the protesters march past the Boston Garden and down Causeway St. finding themselves penned in by metal fences on Martha Rd. heading towards Science Park. I assume that the reason they tried to pen the protesters in there was to keep them from obstructing traffic either on Storrow Drive or by blocking the entrance to I-93 (again like they had during previous actions).
Protesters marched all the way to fence, demanding the way be cleared. Yelling at the officers "Who do you protect, who to you serve!"
There were more police in the streets than at any of the other protests I've attended. In addition to the usual escort of bicycle cops following the marchers, it looks like the pre-staged hundreds of officers through the expected route to block traffic keep the protesters off the major highways.
Penned in, the protesters staged the first of a handful of die-ins. It started as they usually do, with a few minutes of silence. After that a few speakers took to the megaphones to encourage the assembled crowd (which by this point seems to have swelled to the largest size during the march).
Martha Rd. is right along side the elevated section of the Green Line tracks to Science Park and Lechmere train stations. Every few minutes or so a train would slowly makes its way past the sitting protesters with passengers taking cell phone photos from the windows.
After about twenty minutes, the march was back on. The whole column of protesters reversed direction and headed around the other side of the block to Nashua St. and the Nashua St. Jail. The police were already waiting there.
There were dozens of officers preventing protester from marching into the intersection past the jail. Behind the front row of officers were dozens more, also clad in riot helmets. In addition there were a few troops in different uniform that I have not seen in the streets before. I assume they were national guard.
Some of the people held in the jail could see the protesters outside from the cell windows. I was able to get this picture of an arm pressed agains a window, several stories above, overlooking the Nashua St.
The first people who got to the police line mostly just lined up in front of the officers asserting their right to march, proclaiming (truthfully) that "this is a peaceful protest."
Anyone who tried to walk through the line was violently shoved back by an officer. Other protesters tried to ask to talk to someone in charge to negotiate a way to continue the march without going backwards. None of the troopers were willing to talk.
This man was walking up and down berating the State Troopers, eloquently explaining that despite being an education man he's still treated like a criminal whenever he goes home and visits New York City. That he gets stopped and harassed whenever he goes out.
Protesters linked arms in lines and began to march towards the police, to attempt to break through. I tried to get behind the first couple rows of marchers. There would be no way to continue to take photos if I was too close and nothing to photograph if I was too far away.
Once the pushing and shoving started I mostly struggled to stay on my feet. As the crowd pushed from behind and the police pushed from the front, the best I could do was keep my camera above by head and keep shooting. Most of what I shot was a mess of arms and helmets.
I was able to see pretty well but I don't know how much more I would have been able to capture if I were closer (without falling or getting arrested).
As the protesters pushed, the troopers would try and grab individual people and pull them through the lines to arrest them. An officer reached around the back the woman in the picture below's head and tried to pull her out of the crowd by her neck. She managed to get away and avoid arrest.
I saw four protesters being led away in zip-tie handcuffs.
After failing to break through the police line, protesters march back towards Downtown Crossing, mostly back the same way they came. The streets were still kept mostly empty by the police.
Protesters then walked from Downtown Crossing up to Park Street where everyone sat down in the street for another die-in. I saw a handful of onlookers join the protesters and lie down with them.
While waiting for updates about the fellow protesters who were arrested, several members of the crowd were invited up to speak. After about thirty minutes, the march was back on, heading to Copley Square.
Finally, after arriving in Copley Sq. in front of the Boston Public Library, the remaining few hundred protesters staged a final die-in before disbanding. The whole protest lasted about four hours.