Protests in Boston after Breonna Taylor’s killers go free

A speaker addresses the crowd at Ramsay Park in Boston on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020. "My name is Breonna Taylor," she said. "My name is Trayvon Martin." Photo by Anoushka Dalmia/BU News Service

By Anoushka Dalmia
BU News Service

BOSTON – Thousands of people marched Friday night for Breonna Taylor and other victims of police brutality after a Kentucky grand jury did not charge any of the three officers involved in Taylor’s shooting for her death. This decision has sparked a new wave of protests across the country.

Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove did not face any charges while Detective Brett Hankison, who was fired in June, was charged with wanton endangerment. The Kentucky attorney general charged Hankison because he fired shots through Taylor’s apartment that went into her neighbor’s apartment.

Friday night’s demonstration, organized by Mass Action Against Police Brutality, started at Nubian Square, where multiple people spoke about racial injustice within the Black community. Organizers began the event with breathing and meditation exercises to calm participants down from the noise from sirens and six helicopters circling the area. 

“Anger and spontaneity aren’t enough to sustain the movement. We need organization,” said the first speaker Gabby Ballard, member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation. 

A woman makes gestures at the Boston Police Department Headquarters in Roxbury during a protest on Sept. 25, 2020. Photo by Anoushka Dalmia/BU News Service

An unidentified speaker stressed the importance of voting. “If you’re not voting, you’re doing nothing. You have the right to vote and run for office.” 

But the biggest cheer of the night was reserved for 16-year-old Hawa Hamidou Tabayi.

“You know if we choose to vote, it won’t be for him,” Tabayi said, seemingly referring to President Donald Trump. Tabayi asked that people continue to take action despite electoral results. 

“If Biden does reign, many of you non-Black folks will disappear from the streets. The lesser of two evils is still evil. Whether Biden wins or Trump, we march in the streets until we get justice,” Tabayi said. 

Monica Cannon-Grant, the founder of Violence In Boston, a nonprofit dedicated to violence prevention in the city, spoke last and put emphasis on the need for abolishing police departments. 

The march began at 7:30 p.m. down Malcolm X Boulevard in Roxbury. The crowd grew as protestors passed by Boston Police Department Headquarters, their chant asking for justice for police brutality victims. Continuing down Tremont Street, the protests ended around 10:00 p.m. at City Hall, where heavy police presence was reported.

Demonstrations and marching continued through Saturday afternoon and evening. Organizers from Mass Action Against Police Brutality gathered at Ramsay Park with about a hundred people. Brock Satter, one of the founders of Mass Action, condemned the decision by the Kentucky grand jury.

Protestors gather near Ramsay Park in Boston on Sept. 26, 2020, after Kentucky grand jury brought no charges against Lousiville police for the killing of Breonna Taylor. Photo by Anoushka Dalmia/BU News Service

“Everyone in the chain of command needs to be held responsible,” he said. 

Hope Coleman, mother of Terrence Coleman, spoke to the crowd about her son’s death in a call to reopen cases involving police inflicted violence. Her son was fatally shot in 2016 by Boston police.

Speakers also brought up the case of David Wright, who was convicted of leading a terror plot against a conservative blogger. Pamela Geller’s 2015 cartoon contest in Texas, involving Prophet Mohammed, ended with two Muslim men being shot to death by police, according to WBUR.  

Saturday’s march started at 4:30 p.m. A few hundred people walked down Shawmut Avenue in Roxbury, continuing on Dudley Street and Geneva Avenue. A prominent chant heard was, “Indict. Convict. Send those killer cops to jail. The whole damn system is guilty as hell.”

At about 6:00 p.m., the crowd reached the Doherty-Gibson playground in Dorchester. People crowded into the park in a socially distanced manner as speakers from Mass Action and the Party for Socialism and Liberation reiterated their messages. 

“If they murder Breonna Taylor in cold blood, they will do it to you,” said Ballard as the demonstration came to a close. 

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