A man who says he was assaulted by members of the white nationalist group Patriot Front in Boston over the Fourth of July weekend is calling for an independent investigation into what he and his advisors described as a failure by police officers to intervene and make arrests as the alleged attack was unfolding.
Charles Murrell III, a local artist and activist, and two local ministers, the Rev. Kevin Peterson and the Rev. Miniard Culpepper, said they met with Boston Mayor Michelle Wu at the Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building in Roxbury on Wednesday afternoon.
They said they submitted a list of requests to the mayor, seeking copies of all police records and body camera footage surrounding the alleged assault that was reported Saturday afternoon in the area of Dartmouth and Stuart streets.
“This is what every human being that lives in our country deserves,” Murrell said during a media briefing organized by Peterson at the Bolling building following their meeting with Wu.
Murrell would not discuss how Saturday’s incident unfolded. Culpepper, the senior pastor at Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church in Dorchester and a candidate for state Senate, and Peterson, founder and director of the New Democracy Coalition, said they are calling for the release of the body-worn camera footage, as well as security footage from a nearby Starbucks, because it “will be helpful in terms of clarifying ... what transpired on that day.”
“It may begin to give some clarity to whether the police were present at the moment Mr. Murrell was attacked,” Peterson said. “That’s the most important thing at the moment that we want to really clarify, and then move forward around talking in more detail about Mr. Murrell’s personal experience and beyond.”
The alleged attack was reported while about 100 Patriot Front members were marching through Copley, waving flags and carrying shields while wearing dark sunglasses, tan caps, and white neck gaiters pulled up over their faces. They all wore navy blue shirts, some with “Reclaim America” printed across the back.
A police report on the incident says officers were called to area of Dartmouth and Stuart streets at about 1:25 p.m. on Saturday for a report of an assault and battery. The victim, whose name is redacted,did not want to speak to officers at first and said he needed to calm down, according to the report.
The victim had suffered a laceration on the ring finger of his right hand and smaller lacerations to his head and left eyebrow, according to the report. He was taken to Tufts Medical Center to get stitches for his hand.
On the way to the hospital, the victim told police that he was walking down Dartmouth Street while using his phone when he “found himself being shoved around and in the middle of a group of individuals with shields and masks,” the report says.
The victim told police that he yelled at the group to stop pushing him and go away. The victim said he eventually “shoved back/swung his arms to separate himself when a larger majority of the group then joined in knocking him to the ground and continuing to hit and kick him,” the report says.
The group, later identified as Patriot Front, had marched from the Downtown area and “was tracked via the Boston Regional Intelligence Center cameras,” the report says.
While they are calling for an investigation into how police responded to the alleged attack on Murrell, they are also seeking a probe into “the failure of intelligence that allowed more than 100 white supremacists to roam through the streets of Boston on Independence Weekend without any enhanced police presence,” according to a document outlining their requests.
Peterson said he felt the meeting with Wu went well. They met for about half an hour, he said.
“We commend Mayor Wu for being responsive in real-time,” he said.
No one from Wu’s office attended the press briefing. Her office confirmed in an e-mail that Wu met with Murrell on Wednesday afternoon but declined to comment further or answer questions about the meeting.
Wu was quick to denounce the presence of the white supremacist group in Boston on Saturday, writing on Twitter that their “hate is as cowardly as it is disgusting, and it goes against all that Boston stands for.” However, police had few options in responding to the event because of civil liberties protections, Wu said on Tuesday.
Sergeant Detective John Boyle, head spokesman for the Boston Police Department, declined to comment Wednesday on the proposed independent investigation sought by Murrell and his advisors. He said the investigation into the alleged assault is ongoing and “very active.” A day prior, Superintendent-In-Chief Gregory Long said the perpetrators in the alleged assault will be charged, if police can identify them.
Murrell said he does not support violence against any groups or individuals.
“We are living in a state where it’s not condoned if Black Lives Matter are going out in the streets and beating people up, if my gay friends are going in the street and beating up straight people,” he said. “That is not okay in this country. That is what the concern is about.”
Nick Stoico can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.