‘I Hope You Hear Me, Because I'm Tired': Boston Protesters in Portrait

For the fourth part in our series, protesters told us about the need for police accountability, their demands for the Suffolk County District Attorney to reopen cases where Black people were killed by police officers and much more

Thousands of people continue to protest across Massachusetts, denouncing structural racism and police brutality against Black people in the wake of George Floyd's death almost a month ago.

Protesters held a rally Tuesday outside the Boston office of Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins demanding that she reopen several cases involving Black people killed by police, including Burrell Ramsey-WhiteUsaamah Rahim and Terrence Coleman. (Rollins said afterward that she would discuss the cases with her Discharge Integrity Team.)

Among the speakers at the rally was Hope Coleman, Terrence Coleman's mother, who watched as Boston police shot and killed her mentally ill son in 2016. Police and prosecutors said he attacked emergency medical technicians with a large knife, but his mother denies her 31-year-old son was armed or posed any danger.

Also speaking was Rahima Rahim, the mother of 26-year-old Usaamah Rahim, who was shot and killed by police in Boston in 2015. He had been under surveillance by the Joint Terrorism Task Force and investigators said he lunged at them with a knife when they approached him for questioning.

Protesters shared their stories with NBC10 Boston, like others did over the past couple of weeks in Jamaica Plain, West Roxbury and Nubian Square. They spoke about the need for police accountability, their demands for Rollins to reopen cases where Black people were killed by police officers, the obligation they feel to protest and more.

Protesters at a 'Boston Justice For All' rally on June 16 demanded justice for victims of police brutality outside of Suffolk County DA Rachael Rollins office.

NBC10 Boston/Shira Stoll
Rahimah Rahim, mother of Usaamah Rahim, who was killed by law enforcement in 2015, stands in front of District Attorney Rachael Rollins' office in Boston during a protest on Tuesday, June 16, 2020.

Rahimah Rahim of Boston, mother of Usaamah Rahim

"I want justice, I want to see that done, that they are prosecuted. I want to see that all of these cases are reopened and looked at correctly. And I want to see that there's reform and the police department– no more qualified immunity. If you do something wrong, you're responsible for what you did, you're not backed up."

NBC10 Boston/Mary Markos
Hope Coleman speaks at a rally in front of District Attorney Rachael Rollins' office in Boston during a protest on Tuesday, June 16, 2020. Her son Terrence Coleman struggled with mental health and was shot and killed by Boston police in 2016.

Hope Coleman of Boston's South End, mother of Terrence Coleman, speaking to protesters during a news conference

“I did what a parent is supposed to have done: I called for help. If I had known that would kill my son, I would have never called 911."

"It's not fair, they should have never used a gun on my son. It's time for a change. Rachael Rollins, I hope you hear me, because I'm tired. I've got to worry about my grandbabies now and everybody else. We all need justice for all. It's time."

NBC10 Boston/Shira Stoll
Nino Brown, an educator from Dorchester, at a protest in Boston on Tuesday, June 16, 2020.

Nino Brown of Dorchester

"I'm out here because we have a pandemic of police violence. That is not uncommon to Boston. We have Usaamah Rahim, Terrance Coleman, Denis Reynoso, Burrell-Ramsey White, who have been killed here in Boston and have not gotten justice from the political system here. So I'm out here in solidarity with the families, in solidarity with all victims of police terror and in solidarity with all Black lives who have been lost to the racist police state terror."

NBC10 Boston/Shira Stoll
Shawn Marquis and his son, Oslo, from Waltham, stand in front of District Attorney Rachael Rollins' office during a protest on Tuesday, June 16, 2020.

Shawn Marquis of Waltham

"Everything that's going on — it's been hard since being a new parent to get out. This is our first time to actually get out and protest. I mean, doing things behind the scenes, as far as donating, reading, learning, listening as a white person — the person with privilege — trying to figure out how best to use it, but also just to actually be here in person I think is very important. I want him to grow up in a world that's fighting to be beyond racism and be for equality. And I want to show him that this is what we do, this is regular, this is normal, this is part of everyday life being a patriotic American and speaking out."

NBC10 Boston/Shira Stoll
Mike King from Brighton at a protest in Boston on Tuesday, June 16, 2020.

Mike King of Brighton via the Bronx

"We're really looking for justice, we're really looking for some sort of resolution for unjust, unarmed murders of people of color in this country. It's always been problematic. We've always been pacified on how we're dealing with it. Nobody's ever really gave us the opportunity to actually deal with the problem and the problem is the police."

"Cops are murdering us indiscriminately in the streets and then they're getting to go home with their families. They're not getting convicted for any type of charges. At this particular moment in time, I don't think people are willing to let it go any longer. This is not just five years, it's not just 10 years, this is 200 years of systemic racism, oppression and systematic destruction of my culture, of my people and all people of color."

NBC10 Boston/Shira Stoll
James Walker, a DJ from Brighton, holds an upside down American flag at a protest on Tuesday, June 16, 2020.

James Walker of Brighton

"I'm thinking of my grandmother, my ancestors that paved the way for us because if it wasn't for them, we wouldn't even be able to be standing here right now, so this is literally the least I could do, you know, just be out here. That's it. Even then, I still feel like, what more can I do? But it's not up to us anymore. It's up to white people. We're tired, so it's everyone's– it's gonna take everyone's effort together."

NBC10 Boston/Shira Stoll
Brock Satter, a Mass Action Against Police Brutality organizer from Roxbury, stands in front of District Attorney Rachael Rollins' office during a protest on Tuesday, June 16, 2020.

Rally organizer Brock Satter of Roxbury

"Police brutality — you don't expect your own government to brutalize people, you expect it to protect. When that happens it makes you question the whole set-up and, you know, I think that's what a lot of people are going through right now. We're getting to a point where something has to give."

"It's encouraging now to see now a national movement around this, because that's what it's going to take. That's why we call it Mass Action. We think it's going to take millions — a mass movement — that's what we're trying to help build."

Watch the footage from Part I, II and III of our project:

Protesters at the Boston March to Defund Police on Wednesday tell NBC10 Boston why they are calling for police reform.
At a silent vigil in West Roxbury on Monday, 11 Black Lives Matter protesters told NBC10 Boston about the changes they want to see after George Floyd's death.
At a Jamaica Plain vigil and protest on Thursday evening, peaceful protesters told NBC10 Boston what they're fighting for.
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