Some 200 protesters gathered near the State House steps Wednesday evening to demand justice for eight Massachusetts families who have lost loved ones at the hands of police.
Brock Satter, who organized the event as part of Mass Action Against Police Brutality, called on Governor Charlie Baker to assign a special prosecutor to reopen all previous cases of police brutality in the state.
“It just has to stop," Satter said prior to the rally. "And the way it’s going to stop is when police actually are held accountable for crimes they commit. It takes no new legislation at all — all it takes is those who are in power, who have the power, to act.
"And that’s what we’re demanding.”
Among those who endorsed the event were the families of 20-year-old Danroy “DJ” Henry, of Easton, who was fatally shot by police 10 years ago in a tony New York City suburb, and Burrell Ramsey-White, a 26-year-old from Dorchester who was killed by Boston police in 2012, according to Mass Action Against Police Brutality. The officer who killed Ramsey-White was cleared in an investigation that found he acted in self-defense when Ramsey-White pointed a loaded gun at him.
They also include relatives of Usaamah Rahim, also 26, who was shot and killed when he allegedly confronted Boston police and FBI special agents with a knife in Roslindale in 2015; and 41-year-old Juston Root, who was fatally shot by five Boston officers and one state trooper near a Brookline shopping center in February.
Friends and family members of some of those killed spoke during the event, in some cases calling into question the police version of events and demanding renewed looks at the cases.
Selvin Chambers, part of a group demanding justice for Eurie Stamps Sr., a Framingham man who was killed in his home by police in 2011, urged those in attendance to keep up the pressure.
“This is not a spectator sport,” Chambers said. “Next time you come out here, bring three, four, five friends.”
Hope Coleman, the mother of Terrence Coleman, a 31-year-old Black man who was fatally shot by a Boston police officer in 2016, also spoke. She recalled the day her son, who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, was killed after she’d called paramedics to her home.
“Holidays, I have to go to the cemetery while everyone else is celebrating,” Coleman told the protesters.
Jennifer Root Bannon, the sister of Juston Root, also spoke Wednesday, urging independent investigations for those killed at the hands of police. Recently released police body camera footage seemed to contradict the version of her brother’s death provided by the Norfolk district attorney’s office, which called the shooting justified.
“Law enforcement cannot — I say cannot — be investigating themselves,” said Bannon, who once again called on Baker to open an independent investigation into her brother’s death.
The rally was followed by a march that was set to take protesters past Boston’s City Hall, before coming to an end near Peters Park in the South End.
In an interview before Wednesday’s rally, Satter, the organizer, called it an outrage that it was still necessary to be out protesting after years of unchecked police brutality. But he also said that until equality was a reality in this country, it was necessary to keep up the fight.
“I should be doing many other things," he said. "I have a kid of my own. I should be playing with my kid; I should be helping him with school right now. But there are a lot of these families that have lost a child, and I hope I’ll never have to face anything like that.
"So that’s why we’re fighting, and unfortunately, we’re not done.”
Dugan Arnett can be reached at email@example.com.