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Protesters demand reopening of cases of police-involved deaths

Mobile Burrell, 31, of Roxbury, held an umbrella with the names of victims during a State House protest Thursday.
Mobile Burrell, 31, of Roxbury, held an umbrella with the names of victims during a State House protest Thursday.Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe

As steady rain fell, parents whose children were killed by police officers were among about 70 people who rallied outside the Massachusetts State House Thursday evening calling on state officials to reopen investigations into their deaths.

The 5:30 p.m. rally came on the same day that former Brooklyn Center, Minn. police officer Kim Potter made her first court appearance in the fatal shooting of 20-year-old Daunte Wright during a routine traffic stop this week.

The shooting, coupled with the ongoing trial of a former Minneapolis police officer charged with killing George Floyd last May, has renewed calls to crack down on police brutality.

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In front of banners that read “How many weren’t filmed? Jail killer cops” and “Reopen the cases. Prosecute the police. Justice for all,” Brock Satter of the group Mass Action Against Police Brutality demanded that Attorney General Maura Healey, District Attorney Rachael Rollins, and Governor Charlie Baker reopen cases of police brutality.

”For many of those families who you’ve never heard of in Minnesota and many here in this state, Massachusetts, we’re demanding that these cases be reopened, that the officers who were involved go to trial for what we have probable cause to believe a crime has been committed,” Satter said.

Organizers called attention to reopening local cases of officer-involved shootings, like that of Terrence Coleman, a 31-year-old Black man with paranoid schizophrenia, who was killed by Boston police in 2016. along with the deaths of Burrell Ramsey-White and Usaamah Rahim.

Coleman’s mother, Hope Coleman, recounted standing next to her son as police responded to a 911 call for mental distress and dispelled that he had pulled a knife out, as law enforcement said.

”I wish I’d never called 911; my son would be here today,” Coleman shouted, as the crowd chanted, “We believe in Hope.”

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Among the protesters’ demands was renaming Peters Park to Terrence Coleman Park in his memory.

The mother of Ramsey-White, Carla Sheffield, spoke out against the lack of progress made since her son was killed by a Boston police officer in what was supposed to be a routine traffic stop in 2012.

Satter said Mass Action Against Police Brutality will have three nationwide demonstrations this summer calling for the reopening of these cases.

”More people are realizing that there is a pandemic of police brutality and racism in this county and that the only way we’re going to root it out is a historic social movement, another civil rights movement of that proportion,” he said.


Christine Mui can be reached at christine.mui@globe.com.