Less than two weeks after white supremacists marched in Boston on Fourth of July weekend, the local figure who said he was assaulted by the marchers was back in Copley Square on Thursday evening as part of a performance group dedicated to advancing social justice.
Charles Murrell III performed just yards away from the spot where he says he encountered members of the Patriot Front on July 2, according to a statement by the New Democracy Coalition. The coalition helped organize the performance with Beheard.world, a Cambridge-based performance troupe that counts Murrell among its 14 members.
Beheard.world describes itself as a “racially diverse collective of performing artisits, filmmakers, and educators.” Its performance on Thursday blended elements of dance, singing, and poetry.
Dozens of spectators gathered in front of Trinity Church to watch the open air performance. Despite the scattered raindrops, the crowd engaged in the performance’s call-and-response, breaking into chants of “this is what democracy looks like.”
According to the Rev. Kevin Peterson, who heads the coalition, the attack on Murrell had pushed the community to explore the “intersectionality between race and politics and creative artistic expression.”
“Whether he likes it or not, Mr. Charles Murrell has become a kind of political figure,” he said. “His encounter with those children of the KKK on the streets of Boston — the so-called cradle of liberty — reminds us of the racial politics that run every day through our veins, and through the body politic of this city.”
Addressing the crowd, Peterson called on Boston Mayor Michelle Wu to open a public investigation into the circumstances of the attack. Wu had previously met with Murrell and Peterson and condemned the white supremacist marchers.
“We ask today that you launch an investigation to make it public whether police officers were in proximity of Mr. Murrell, and whether those police officers failed to do their duty in arresting those who assaulted Mr. Murrell,” Peterson said.
Peterson also pushed for the city to establish a “race commission” to explore “the legacy of racism in Boston, so that we can begin to properly and maturely deal with the demons of xenophobia and hate that pervade every precinct of the city.
“Anything short of this, Mayor Wu, is a failure,” he said.