Top police commanders praised their officers on Friday for their response to the wave of protests that swept through downtown Boston on Thursday night, but three of the 10 people arrested sharply criticized State Police for allegedly targeting them.
Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said in a telephone interview that some among the thousands who marched deliberately antagonized some of his officers, but the overwhelming majority were intent only on making sure their voices were heard.
“Unfortunately, there are some who are throwing swears at us, they are up in our faces,’’ Evans said, stressing that his officers were trained to resist the provocation. “The crowd for the most part was very respectful and peaceful. That’s the way protests should go — both sides respect each other.’’
Ten people were arrested, two by Boston police. Transit Police arrested one woman. State Police arrested seven people, most of whom were taken into custody during a confrontation in front of the State House. Marchers were protesting a New York grand jury’s decision not to indict a white police officer in the choking death of an unarmed black man.
In Boston Municipal Court on Friday, five protesters accepted Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley’s offer to have their disorderly conduct and trespassing charges converted to civil infractions, which assures that their personal criminal histories will not be affected, attorneys said.
Two of the protesters, identified by Conley’s office as 31-year-old Edward Summerhill and 29-year-old Addis Summerhill, want to go to trial.
The final three were arrested by State Police near a gate in front of the State House.
All three are women are associated with the Black Lives Matter Boston organization. They repeatedly told reporters that State Police troopers singled them out because of the public role they have played in recent weeks. Their cases were dismissed upon payment of $200 in fines.
State Police spokesman David Procopio said in a statement that the three women “tried to push through the front gate at the State House and, after ignoring orders to cease, violently resisted troopers’ attempts to return them to the outside of the gate.”
The women said they did not try to push their way past the gate but were instead grabbed by troopers without provocation on their part. “I was just standing there. I was being dragged in,’’ Seneca Joyner, a Dorchester resident, said. “I was terrified.’’
Daunasia S. Yancey insisted that she, too, was the victim, not the aggressor.
“As they arrested, the police called me an [expletive] idiot,’’ Yancey said. “They were trying to zip-tie me and they were yelling at me because of that, but there was nothing I could do because I was facedown on the ground. . . . They were just smug and demeaning to us.’’
At one point during the protests, marchers made their way into the Green Line station at Park Street, where they walked onto the westbound platform and then onto the tracks around 10:30 p.m., forcing the line to shut down for about 45 minutes, said Lieutenant Richard Sullivan, MBTA Transit Police spokesman.
The group of about 40 to 50 demonstrators conducted a “die-in’’ that began at 11 p.m. and lasted for about 11 minutes, he said. Protesters left the station around 11:15 p.m., and Green Line service resumed.
“That was true democracy taking place,’’ said Sullivan, who was at the scene. “Peaceful protests and professional police equals democracy.’’
Protests broke out across the country last week following a Missouri grand jury’s decision not to indict former Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. Thursday’s protest was triggered when a Staten Island grand jury decided not to indict a New York Police officer who used a fatal chokehold on Eric Garner.