Protesters march from Boston to Cambridge, condemning police brutality, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day
A group of about 75 protesters marched nearly 4 miles from a park in Boston’s South End across the Harvard Bridge to Cambridge in support of families hit by police brutality in Massachusetts on Monday afternoon.
Amid snow flurries and icy streets, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, organizers of Mass Action Against Police Brutality led the MLK March for Justice through the streets chanting the names of the black men who died at the hands of law enforcement, organizer Brock Satter are said.
“Particularly in light of the recent Cambridge police killing of Sayed Faisal, we have worked with many families here in Boston who have lost loved ones to police violence and we think it’s really important that they get justice,” Satter said in an interview with The Boston Globe.
Satter stood in the back of a white pickup truck, microphone in hand, shouting, “No justice, no peace; we will prosecute the police” and “Can’t stop, won’t stop; jail these killer cops,” among other rhyming chants as the truck rolled slowly down the street.
The group started the march in Peters Park in the South End, opposite the house where 31-year-old Terrence Coleman was shot dead by police during a mental health emergency in 2016, according to Satter. Coleman’s mother, Hope Coleman, joined the march Monday and delivered an emotional speech before the group began walking.
“My son is not by my side or at the dinner table,” Coleman said, fighting back tears. “Stop the damn bullets. Put down your guns. Help the residents – [police] You don’t have to carry bullets about mental health. There are other ways to control mental health.”
She expressed her support for other mothers who have lost children to police brutality and highlighted the pain and grief she has been going through.
“Mental health is very important. Everyone has a condition that you are not aware of. But we don’t need bullets,” Coleman said. “How can we send our kids to the store, grandkids, friends or any type of family member – how do you know they’re going to come back?”
She sat in the passenger seat of the first car in the trailer, pointing a megaphone out the window to amplify her chants as snow blanketed the streets.
Many families are seeking prosecution of police officers who wrongfully killed their loved ones, Satter said. He also mentioned that the media could cover these issues better, and journalists should understand “the family side of the story” and not just the “police story.” The rise of social media has made the public more aware of police brutality, Satter said.
“The government is not moving fast enough and often they turn a deaf ear to these concerns and we have called for cases like this [the deaths of] Terrence Coleman, Burrell Ramsey, Usaamah Rahim are reopening,” he said. “We aim to prosecute the police when they commit crimes and we believe the government has a role to play.”
When the protesters arrived in Cambridge, Satter stopped the caravan at the intersection of Sidney and Chestnut streets near where 20-year-old UMass Boston student Sayed Faisal was shot dead by an officer on January 4. The hikers raised their protest signs and remained silent for a moment in memory of Faisal.
The protest continued and then stopped next to Fort Washington Park, where Andira Alves, 30 – a cousin of Manuel “Junior” DaVeiga, a 19-year-old black man who died in a 2010 shootout with Dorchester police – addressed the assembled crowd .
DaVeiga’s death was “before [Black Lives Matter], Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown and George Floyd,” and “there wasn’t a mass movement of people demanding justice,” Alves said. Although police said DaVeiga fatally shot himself during the shooting, Alves believes otherwise, underscoring the lack of trust between police and the community.
“Does that sound right to any of you? And the Boston police intimidated witnesses, harassed the siblings, abused them, and when they acted in self-defense, jailed them — not the officers who murdered him or the others who covered it up,” Alves said.
Standing huddled in knitted hats and baggy jackets, the demonstrators listened to each speaker and regularly interjected their approval. At the end of the march, one group went to the nearby Flour Bakery & Cafe to warm up.
“Freedom Winter is one thing,” Satter said. “This is a sign of our serious determination.”
Bailey Allen can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @baileyaallen.