The Boston Common is in my district, and I was at the protest Sunday night in memory of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many others. I saw firsthand our inspiring young people of color leading a powerful peaceful demonstration, calling for an end to police brutality and systemic racism. I’m so grateful for them, their bravery and clarity.
Last night I heard from several of their mothers, who serve on the board of the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance (MAHA) with me, working to close the racial wealth gap. (Donate here or below). I heard the pride and fear and fury mingled in their voices, at what their children risk to cry out truth, and what they risk to let them go downtown in a season of pandemic.
Their witness underscored my own anger at the MBTA for closing Park Street Station on Sunday night, trapping too many young people on the Common just as they were trying to head home. Between 9 and 10:30pm I had to give countless groups directions to North & South Station, long walks that didn’t feel safe. We cannot order people to disperse and give them no secure way to do so.
Meanwhile, with such a sizable crowd stranded on the Common, it seemed we weren’t able to speedily and effectively redeploy police resources to where opportunistic bad actors were looting in a premeditated, semi-professional way. This led to significantly delayed responses at Copley Mall, Newbury Street, and elsewhere.
Yesterday morning in District 8 was sad, angry, and hard; I was out by 6AM sweeping up glass off the sidewalk, discussing how to safely remove graffiti from our beloved historic monuments, and tallying broken shop windows alongside my count of vacant storefronts on Boylston, Newbury, and Charles St. Our small businesses are already reeling so badly from the closures caused by COVID-19; they need our help, now and in the weeks and months ahead, to keep from being swallowed up by this rolling disaster.
But I have no patience for the framing of a tradeoff here between justice and order, from President Trump or anyone. What our young people are calling for – an end to police brutality & systemic racism – is urgent, an emergency even mid-emergency, and cannot be discredited.
“I tell you, if they were silent, the very stones would cry out.”