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Walsh pushes for peaceful Breonna Taylor demonstrations in Boston

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh.
Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh.Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

Mayor Martin J. Walsh Friday implored protesters to demonstrate peacefully this weekend in Boston in the wake of a Kentucky grand jury bringing no charges against Louisville police for the killing of Breonna Taylor during a drug raid gone wrong earlier this year.

“People are deeply upset, but we cannot turn to violence to express our pain,” said Walsh during a City Hall news conference.

Taylor, a 26-year-old Black EMT, was killed in March by police executing a “no-knock” warrant in Louisville. Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said Wednesday that the investigation showed officers acted in self-defense. One officer who has already been terminated was charged with firing into a neighboring apartment.

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Taylor was shot multiple times by white officers after Taylor’s boyfriend fired at them, authorities said. He said he didn’t know who was coming in and opened fire in self-defense, wounding one officer. Police entered on a warrant connected to a suspect who did not live there, and no drugs were found inside.

Following this week’s announcement, protesters took to the streets across the country to call for reforms to combat racist policing. There are multiple Boston demonstrations scheduled for Friday evening.

Walsh said that most of the protests in the U.S. in recent days have been peaceful, while also acknowledging that a gunman wounded two Louisville police officers during protests on Wednesday night.

“I’m asking you to keep it safe,” said Walsh. “I’m asking you to keep it peaceful, I’m asking you to keep it powerful.”

The mayor said that for many Black people and people of color, the lack of charges in connection with Taylor’s death, has brought "a lifetime of painful experiences to the surface.”

“Many people are angry and hurt and quite honestly confused at this point in our country,” he said. “We need to recognize the root of the pain.”

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There have been dozens of rallies and demonstrations in Boston calling for an end to police brutality and systemic racism in recent months following the murder of George Floyd, a 46-year-old handcuffed Black man who died on Memorial Day when a white Minneapolis police officer pinned his knee to Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.

The vast majority of those demonstrations have been peaceful. On May 31, police clashed with people in ugly scenes in the heart of the city that followed what had been a peaceful march and protest. More than two dozen were sent to the hospital and more than 50 were arrested in that turmoil, and storefronts were smashed and ransacked throughout downtown and the Back Bay.

At Friday’s news conference, Walsh said that while Governor Charlie Baker had activated the National Guard on Thursday, “I’m hoping we don’t need them."

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.


Danny McDonald can be reached at daniel.mcdonald@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Danny__McDonald.