Mayor Marty Walsh urged Bostonians on Friday to protest peacefully as they continue to express their anger over the decision not to bring charges against police officers in Kentucky in connection with Breonna Taylor's shooting death.
A protest is scheduled to be held in Roxbury on Friday, and additional demonstrations are planned across the state this weekend. Gov. Charlie Baker activated the Massachusetts National Guard on Thursday due to possible protests.
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"All across our country people are reacting to the news of Breonna Taylor and the grand jury not indicting any police officer in that shooting," Walsh said. "This has been a painful and personal experience for many Americans. Many people are angry or hurt or quite honestly, confused at this point in our country."
He said most of the demonstrations have been peaceful, but earlier this week in Louisville two police officers were shot.
"People are deeply upset, but we cannot turn to violence to express our pain," Walsh said. "I'm asking people planning to demonstrate in Boston tonight and over the weekend to respect the city. I'm asking you to respect each other. I'm asking you to keep it safe, I'm asking you to keep it peaceful, I'm asking you to keep it powerful."
The mayor also provided an update Friday on the city's fight against COVID-19. He said the city remains on the verge of crossing into the red, or highest-risk, category on the state's coronavirus risk map.
Just under eight cases are being detected each day per 100,000 residents, which is the baseline for being classified as red. He said the city's positivity rate continues to hold steady at 2.7%.
"There's a very real possibility that Boston will be in the red zone according to state numbers," Walsh said. "We're monitoring the numbers on a daily basis."
At this point, he said he does not think the coronavirus rate will impact plans to start bringing some students back into the classroom next week. He said the rate would have to be 4% or higher to force the city to go remote-only.
"If we see the number is dangerous, we could suspend school for kids in school and postpone other phases," Walsh said. "I'm not going to make any decision that's going to put any of our students or our teachers in harm's way."
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health found that Boston's incidence rate was 7.9 cases per 100,000 people this week, just short of the level to be considered high risk, which is eight cases out of 100,00 people.
Cities and towns in the red zone face increased scrutiny from state regulators and have access to increased coronavirus-fighting resources.
As of Thursday, Boston had reported 16,836 cases of COVID-19, up 70 from Wednesday, with 762 deaths -- one more than on Wednesday.