Hundreds of protesters supporting the Black Lives Matter movement took to the streets of Boston Sunday night in an impromptu march calling for an end to police violence.
The event was sparked by a Facebook invite posted by Marquis Miller Jr., an 18-year-old Dorchester man who said he wanted to take action after watching graphic videos of African-Americans dying during encounters with police.
“I wanted to let the world know that Boston is on board with Black Lives Matter,” Miller said.
The march began around 6 p.m. at Downtown Crossing and continued to Boston Police Headquarters. Videos posted to social media Sunday by onlookers and marchers showed hundreds passing through city streets, while police on bicycles provided escort.
The march comes after the shooting deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling at the hands of police last week. Castile was killed by St. Paul, Minn., police during a traffic stop, and Sterling died during a struggle with Baton Rouge, La., officers. Both cases made headlines when graphic videos of the men’s deaths were viewed by millions on social media.
The deaths have fueled protests against police violence across the country, including one in Dallas on Thursday when Micah Xavier Johnson, a US military veteran, killed five police officers.
Miller said he was concerned for safety during the march. “My mother prayed for me before I left; my grandmother prayed for me,” Miller said.
Violence was something Miller said he wanted his protest to avoid, and he said the Black Lives Matter movement is not limited only to African-American lives.
As marchers chanted through the city’s streets, Boston police officers walked alongside them, protecting and “guarding” them, 18-year-old Tracy Jane said.
She said watching the officers and marchers walk side by side was “a sight to see.”
“It was so nice to see us come together as one,” she said. “This is what we want.”
Though many people across the country have spoken out on social media, Jane said it’s important to make their voices heard on the streets, both “physically and mentally.”
“It feels good to actually do something for once,” she said. “You don’t have to physically be angry and riot. You can just have a peaceful protest, say what you have to say.”John Hilliard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Felicia Gans can be reached at email@example.com.