A group of about 75 protesters marched almost 4 miles from a park in Boston’s South End, across the Harvard Bridge, and into Cambridge in support of families impacted by police brutality in Massachusetts Monday afternoon.
Amid snow flurries and icy roads on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, organizers from Mass Action Against Police Brutality led the MLK March for Justice through the streets, chanting the names of Black men who have died at the hands of law enforcement, organizer Brock Satter said.
“Especially in light of the recent police killing in Cambridge, of Sayed Faisal, we’ve been working with a lot of the families here in Boston who lost loved ones to police violence, and we think it’s really important that they get justice,” Satter said in an interview with The Boston Globe.
Satter stood in the bed of a white pickup truck with a microphone in hand, shouting, “No justice, no peace; we’re going to prosecute the police,” and “Can’t stop, won’t stop; jail those killer cops,” among other rhyming chants, as the truck slowly rolled down the street.
The group kicked off the march in Peters Park in the South End, across the street from the home where 31-year-old Terrence Coleman was shot by police in 2016 during a mental health emergency, according to Satter. Coleman’s mother, Hope Coleman, joined Monday’s march and gave an emotional speech before the group began walking.
“My son’s not by my side or at the dinner table,” Coleman said, choking back tears. “Stop the damn bullets. Put your guns away. Help the residents — [police] don’t need to be carrying no bullets around mental health. There’s other ways to control mental health.”
She expressed support for other mothers who have lost children due to police brutality, stressing the pain and grief she has gone through.
“Mental health is very important. Everyone has a condition you don’t know. But we don’t need no bullets,” Coleman said. “How can we send our kids to the store, grandkids, friends, or any type of family member — how do you know they’re going to come back?”
She sat in the passenger seat of the first car in the caravan and pointed a megaphone out the window to amplify her chants as the snow blanketed the streets.
Many families are looking for prosecution of police officers who have unjustly killed their loved ones, Satter said. He also mentioned the media could do a better job of reporting on these issues, and journalists should “get the family’s side of the story” and not only the “police narrative.” The rise of social media has made the public more aware of police brutality, Satter said.
“The government is not moving fast enough and oftentimes, they have a deaf ear to these concerns and we’ve demanded cases like [the deaths of] Terrence Coleman, Burrell Ramsey, Usaamah Rahim, be reopened,” he said. “We’re looking for criminal prosecution of the police when they commit crimes and we feel that the government is playing a role.”
Once protesters got to Cambridge, Satter paused the caravan at the intersection of Sidney and Chestnut streets near where 20-year-old UMass Boston student Sayed Faisal was shot and killed by an officer on Jan. 4. The walkers raised their protest signs and stayed silent for a moment in memory of Faisal.
The protest resumed and then stopped next to Fort Washington Park, where Andira Alves, 30 — a cousin of Manuel “Junior” DaVeiga, a 19-year-old Black man who died in a shoot-out with police in Dorchester in 2010 — spoke to the gathered crowd.
DaVeiga’s death was “before [Black Lives Matter], Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, and George Floyd,” and “there wasn’t a mass movement of people demanding justice,” Alves said. Although police said DaVeiga fatally shot himself during the shoot-out, Alves believes otherwise, underscoring the lack of trust between police and the community.
“Does that sound right to any of you? And Boston police intimidated witnesses, harassed the siblings, brutalized them, and when they acted in self defense, they got locked up — not the officers who murdered him or the rest that covered it up,” Alves said.
As protesters stood huddled with knit hats and puffy jackets, they listened to each speaker, interjecting periodically in agreement. At the end of the march, a group headed indoors to the nearby Flour Bakery & Cafe to warm up.
“Freedom winter is a thing,” Satter said. “This is a sign of our serious determination.”
Bailey Allen can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @baileyaallen.