Nights of protest and unrest continue in Ferguson, Missouri after the announced decision not to indict a Ferguson police officer for killing an unarmed black teenager. Here in Boston, as in cities across the country, hundreds of people gathered in protest, joining in the frustration over the grand jury's decision. While largely peaceful, more than 50 individuals were arrested by police, mostly for disorderly conduct.
After a long deliberation, the grand jury's decision was announced on Monday, with no charges to be filed against Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. Protests broke out in Ferguson after the announcement, with buildings and cars set on fire, before police fired tear gas to break up the protests, with about 40 arrests were made. Across the country, other cities joined in protest.
In Boston, protesters marched chanting "No justice, No peace," and "Hands up, Don't shoot," in reference to one witnesses claims that Brown had his hands up when he was fatally shot by Officer Wilson. Boston Mayor, Martin J. Walsh, and other local leaders and officials released a joint statement earlier in the day. It stated, "Boston is a City rooted proudly in the spirit of freedom and strength." The statement continued, "We echo the sentiment of community leaders, elected officials, and clergy nationwide, calling for unity and peaceful demonstrations, and encouraging all to work together to create real, lasting change." The full statement can be found here.
The largest gathering in Boston took place when an estimated 1,500 people gathered in Dudley Square. A series of speakers engaged the crowd, calling for an end to police violence, and for justice for the young people of the community. The group continued in a march from Dudley Square near the Roxbury, down Massachusetts Avenue towards the South Bay. As the groups approached an onramp leading towards Interstate 93 and the Mass Turnpike, officers blocked the ramp. According to a statement from police, "Troopers and Boston officers have established a line on the Mass. Ave. Connector that would prevent protesters from entering Route 93."
According to State Police, 51 people were arrested Tuesday night during protests. Most of the arrests were for disorderly conduct charges. However, in one incident, a protester bit the wrist of a state trooper, who was then treated at the scene. Most of those arrested were young people, averaging an age of 23. A number were students from nearby universities including Harvard and Tufts.
Boston police Commissioner William Evans called the crowd rambunctious, but for the most part orderly. "I am very proud of the job my officer's did. We really took the soft approach. I don't think you've ever seen us with sticks and helmets," said Evans.
State Police have issued a statement that they will have an increased presence around potential demonstration sites for the next few days. Meanwhile, other protests and marches took place across Massachusetts, including Worcester, Springfield, Northampton, and Pittsfield. These smaller protests were all reported to be peaceful demonstrations.