Photos: Boston’s Peaceful Protest Descends into Violence

Thousands of protesters took part in a peaceful protest Sunday—but the evening took a chaotic turn as night fell.

Photo by Amanda Lucidi

Sunday evening, thousands of protesters marched peacefully from Roxbury’s Nubian Square to the State House, in solidarity with scores of other protests across the country after the death of George Floyd one week ago.

Floyd, a black man, died last week in Minneapolis after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, knelt on his neck for over seven minutes, as three fellow officers looked on. Chauvin has since been charged with manslaughter and third degree murder.

Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, protesters donned masks and marched to call for justice, chanting “black lives matter” and “I can’t breathe.”

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – MAY 31: Demonstrators begin their march in Roxbury. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)


Protesters hold up signs as they march downtown. (Photo by Joseph Prezioso / AFP) (Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images)

As the sea of protesters passed Tufts Medical on the way to downtown, the crowd clapped and cheered in tribute to the healthcare workers battling the COVID-19 crisis. Hospital staff, some out on the sidewalk and others at the windows of the building, applauded the marchers in return.

At the State House, the peaceful demonstration, organized by a group called Black Boston, continued until about 8:30 p.m.

Celtics Enes Kanter, Marcus Smart, and Vincent Poirier were sighted among the crowd.

As night fell, protesters raised their phone flashlights in the air and held a moment of silence.

As the organized protest came to a close and the crowd began to leave, however, the night quickly took a turn. Some protesters began throwing water bottles at police as tear gas was dispersed over the remaining crowd. Several protesters who were on the scene noted that the police presence expanded quickly, and that many in the crowd felt trapped by police barriers and by the fact that the MBTA unexpectedly closed many downtown stops. 

The situation quickly escalated—people began looting stores, breaking windows, setting off explosives, and getting into altercations with the police. 

This morning, cleanup crews have deployed across the city to sweep the streets and scrub away graffiti. As of 3 a.m., the Boston Police Department confirmed that 7 injured police officers were transported to hospitals, 21 police cruisers sustained damage, and about 40 people were arrested over the course of the evening.