Here’s How Massachusetts Politicians Have Responded to Boston’s Protests

Spurred by the need to speak up, elected officials have taken to Twitter to react to Sunday's demonstration.

Photo via Getty/Boston Globe

Alongside nationwide protests and amidst a worldwide pandemic, many activists are calling for people to demand change at the ballot box, by voting into office politicians who enforce accountability for police brutality. And, with “silence is violence” as one of the many rallying cries of protests across the nation, the responsibility of speaking up is more urgent than ever, particularly for those in positions of power. As many elected officials took to Twitter during and after Boston’s protests in response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, we took a look at how our state and local representation has responded.

We will be updating this article with responses throughout the day as our elected officials weigh in.

“Tonight’s protests were motivated by a righteous desire for equality, justice, and accountability in our country,” Mayor Marty Walsh said on Twitter on Sunday night. He thanked protesters and police, but expressed anger for “the people who came into our city and chose to engage in acts of destruction and violence.” In a press conference today, Walsh expanded on yesterday’s events, along with Boston Police Commissioner William Gross and District Attorney Rachael Rollins—read more about the briefing here.

Governor Charlie Baker shared a similar sentiment, expressing gratitude for those who peacefully protested the murder of George Floyd, and for Boston’s police offers and first responders, but denouncing looting and property destruction as “criminal and cowardly.”

Before the protests began on Sunday morning, Congressman Joe Kennedy III called for some clarity about whose actions are condemnable:

On Sunday morning, State Rep Liz Miranda, whose Fifth Suffolk district includes parts of Roxbury and Dorchester, tweeted “The silence among colleagues is deafening.” In a separate tweet, she added, “As a Black woman I don’t have the luxury to be quiet. Just because Massachusetts isn’t on fire right now, doesn’t mean it can’t be. In fact, if we paid more attention to our marginalized communities we would know that racist policies are everywhere. I’m MA too.”

Aaron Michlewitz, a State Representative serving the North End, Chinatown, the South End, Bay Village, and Beacon Hill, responded to Sunday’s protests in a four-part tweet on Monday morning. After acknowledging the thousands of Bostonians who “came out to protest generational inequities in our system,” he condemned those who vandalized and looted businesses in his district, referring to them as “a bunch of bad actors.”

The morning before the march against police brutality began in Boston, City Councilor Julia Mejia expressed support for the protest. Later that night, she tweeted that she had to go on two “rescue missions to pick up young protesters who were stranded” after the MBTA suspended service at some stations. “How are we ensuring that #AllMeansAll make it home safe?” she asked, in response to an MBTA tweet. Mejia and Councilor Ricardo Arroyo introduced a resolution on Friday in support of Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley’s resolution to condemn police brutality.

After sharing photos of signs and peaceful protesters yesterday, on Monday morning Massachusetts State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz called on the Boston Globe to provide and prominently feature coverage of the thousands who demonstrated without destroying property. “One of your sub-headlines reads ‘unrest overshadows peaceful protests yet again.’ Please examine what your role is in that,” she wrote.

On Monday afternoon, City Councilor Annissa Essaibi-George shared her experience with Sunday’s protests: “Last night, I attended a BLM protest that began and ended peacefully. It was moving to be with thousands of Bostonians to address the national crisis of police brutality & racism, esp. because it was organized by youth.” She added, “I’m having internal conversations with my team today to consider our next steps to be most effective for the movement to end racism and police brutality.”

“I want to be clear,” tweeted Ricardo Arroyo, a city councilor who represents Hyde Park and Roslindale, on Monday afternoon. “The systemic racism is what keeps me up at night”—not “the methods folks use to express their rage at systemic racism.”