Dozens Arrested During Boston Protests

The crowd tried to gain access to the highway as part of their demonstration, but police held their ground.

At least four dozen protesters were arrested Tuesday night as people took to the streets of Boston, shutting down access to cars and bringing traffic to a complete standstill, in response to a grand jury’s decision not to indict a white police officer for the shooting death of an unarmed black teen in Ferguson, Missouri during the summer.

Chanting slogans like “black lives matter” and “no justice, no peace,” an estimated 1,400 activists who wanted to call attention to their disapproval for the grand jury’s ruling clashed with police at the entrance of the I-93 connector near Massachusetts Avenue as they tried to gain access to the freeway. Police held off the crowd by forming a line of officers, and staging their bikes and vehicles by the interchange’s opening.

The march began with a few hundred protesters who gathered at Dudley Square, before it quickly grew by the numbers. Protesters then headed toward the South Bay House of Corrections, where inmates came to the windows, their body’s backlit by the bright lights inside their holding cells, and cheered on the crowd outside, some even holding up signs.

The massive march was organized by members of the Facebook group “Black Lives Matter Boston” and others, in direct response to the grand jury’s failure to bring charges against Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, who said he acted in self defense when he shot 18-year-old Michael Brown more than several times in the torso and head, killing him.

Wilson’s actions and the Ferguson Police Department’s lack of transparency in investigating the case set off a firestorm of reactions and protests across the country in the days following Brown’s death, many of which were reignited Tuesday night in multiple cities from Providence to Los Angeles.

In Boston, despite multiple arrests, the demonstrations remained peaceful, with some reports of injuries, but no damage to public property. Boston’s march weaved from Mass. Ave., past Berklee College of Music toward Boylston Street, and down to Dewey Square near South Station with no significant problems.

Police, who called it “rambunctious” but “orderly,” refrained from using riot gear or other means of serious protection to quell the crowd as people worked their way through the city, passing cars impeded by the swelling numbers of protesters making their concerns about racial disparity heard with loud chants and large banners and signs.

Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said he was pleased with how officers reacted to the crowd, which at times greatly outnumbered police on scene, and expressed hope that the department can continue to work with protesters in a peaceful manner moving forward.

“I want to thank the men and women of the BPD for their professionalism, composure, and a job well done,” he said.

State Police, who were also on hand to help block protesters from gaining access to the highways at multiple locations, said all but one person detained were handed over to city officials. Thirty-three people were taken into custody near the Mass. Ave. Connector in the South Bay area; 17 were arrested in the Dewey Square area; and one was apprehended in the ramp from the Mass. Turnpike to Purchase Street. State Police said one officer was injured when a demonstrator allegedly bit him on the hand.

Officers from the State Police barracks were prepared for the demonstrations in reaction to the Ferguson decision after monitoring social media activity throughout the day on Tuesday from their Commonwealth Fusion Center.  The open-source information they gathered “provided critical intelligence about protesters’ plans to try to disrupt traffic on state highways.”

“Because of superb cooperation and coordination between State and Boston Police, we were able to prevent protesters from entering the Southeast Expressway and the Mass. Turnpike,” they said.

Those taken into custody were arraigned in Boston Municipal Court, and Roxbury District Court, and face charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, according to police reports.

Below is a collection of photos from Tuesday night’s protests: