Governor Charlie Baker denounced President Trump’s call for the nation’s governors to “dominate” protesters demonstrating against police brutality across the country Monday, even as he and Mayor Martin J. Walsh decried the looting and unrest in Boston that sent more than two dozen people to the hospital the night before.
“I heard what the president said today about dominating and fighting,” said Baker, a Republican. “I know I should be surprised when I hear incendiary words like this from him, but I’m not."
He continued, "At so many times during these last several weeks, when the country needed compassion and leadership the most, it simply was nowhere to be found. Instead, we got bitterness, combativeness, and self-interest.”
Walsh on Monday said the strife that occurred in Boston late Sunday night after the peaceful protest constituted “an attack on our city” and praised the tens of thousands of those who marched peacefully from Roxbury’s Nubian Square to the steps of the State House protesting the death of George Floyd and other Black Americans at the hands of police.
He implored people to understand that the Black community “is in real pain” and encouraged people to not “lose sight of George Floyd’s murder.”
“We saw all kinds of people who simply want to put an end to racism and make positive change in our country,” he said of Sunday’s march.
On Monday evening, demonstrators again staged protests, first in West Roxbury and later in Grove Hall, each of which was peaceful.
“As a community, we are tired. As people of color, we are tired. We are tired of the oppressor keeping their foot on our necks,” Eduardo Yarde, the pastor of Mt. Sinai Baptist Church in Mattapan, told those gathered in Grove Hall.
And though law enforcement officials, including National Guardsmen in combat fatigues and tactical gear, were clearly prepared for the potential of more unrest downtown, the streets were calm late into the night.
The contrast to 24 hours earlier was striking.
In Boston Sunday night, 53 people were arrested, and nine police officers were taken to the hospital in the tumult that followed the demonstration, as were 18 bystanders, according to authorities.
Dozens more officers were treated in the field for injuries, Walsh said, as people threw rocks and sticks at police.
During a State House briefing Monday, Baker also reflected on Floyd’s death, which he said was a “horrible tragedy.” He also criticized the suspects arrested in Boston.
“To the criminals and cowards that tarnished that night’s peaceful protest, I expect your day in court will come soon,” Baker said.
He said there are “no easy answers, but there is opportunity — opportunity to make progress and to improve.”
Twenty-seven of those arrested Sunday night and early Monday were from Boston, and 24 were from Massachusetts but outside the city. Two arrests and one summons were for people from out-of-state, said Boston Police Commissioner William Gross, who acknowledged that it was “rough out there for a while.”
“Individuals showed up not with a peaceful intent in mind," he said.
Among the suspects charged was John Boampong, 37, of Dorchester, who is accused of firing a gun at officers during the late-night violence.
Speaking at the same press conference as Gross and Walsh, Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins said she was tired of seeing police officers elsewhere “shoot us in the street as if we were animals” while adding that the law enforcement officials who showed up Sunday night were there doing their jobs. She also spoke to the “burning rage” felt in communities of color.
“People are fed up and exhausted,” she said.
Walsh spoke to the destruction of public and private property Sunday night. The memorial to the Massachusetts 54th Regiment, which was the most acclaimed Black regiment in the Union Army during the Civil War, and is located across from the State House, was among the monuments defaced during Sunday night’s disturbances.
“That memorial is sacred to Black Boston and to our country,” he said.
The mayor also addressed the “untold economic damage” Sunday’s carnage took on local businesses that were already financially strapped because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“They are fighting to survive,” said Walsh.
After Walsh’s press conference, a five minute-walk from City Hall showed the toll to which Walsh had referred. In Downtown Crossing, a collection of stores that were looted the night before had boarded-up windows: CVS, Walgreens, a pair of jewelry stores. Nearby, a man with a power-drill stepped onto a ladder to affix a piece of plywood to the window of a 7-Eleven.
Walsh said the protest was allowed to go forward because “We believe in free speech, we believe in people’s right to protest.”
Asked if Sunday night’s events reflected any failures in his leadership, Walsh said, “No, I don’t.”
“We don’t want a police state here; we want a balanced approach,” said Walsh.
The mayor said police “had a great plan yesterday, and a great approach.”
However, not everyone shared that assessment.
“If someone were to ask me who started the violence, the answer is absolutely the police,” said Jamie Berg, a 23-year-old Emerson student who said protests were peaceful for most of the day. “There was no violence until the police turned on us.
Berg reported seeing police using tear gas near the Common. "And we didn’t have any warnings. It’s not like somebody asked us to leave or someone warned us that this was going to be a consequence.”
The mayor does not plan to attend upcoming protests and indicated city authorities don’t have concerns about the demonstrations themselves, but rather what follows when the events are over. Sunday night’s unrest came as the demonstration was drawing to a close.
A protest is scheduled to start late Tuesday afternoon in Franklin Park.
“What we want is equity,” said Monica Cannon-Grant, an organizer of that demonstration, at a Monday event held at Boston’s Garden of Peace.
Also speaking at that Monday event was Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who told reporters the "challenge is to white people to act.” She condemned the violence that erupted overnight in Boston.
"That’s not the answer, that’s not the solution,” Healey said. “Nor is it in any way emblematic of what this movement, this protest is about.”
Jaclyn Reiss, Travis Andersen, John R. Ellement, and Dasia Moore of Globe staff contributed.
Danny McDonald can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Danny__McDonald.