Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and other top Massachusetts Democrats blasted U.S. Attorney General William Barr after President Donald Trump's top law enforcement official met Thursday with Boston Police Commissioner William Gross.
"In Boston, we believe in justice and equity, and protecting everyone in our community," Walsh said on Twitter on Thursday night. "I am working every day to combat the injustice and systemic racism that is at the root of so many of our challenges."
"Attorney General Barr and the Trump Administration do not share Boston’s values or my values," the mayor added. "His actions and general lack of respect for people and their rights are a danger to our city and the future of our country."
Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu also tweeted about Barr's visit.
"Racism Is A Public Health Crisis...aka don’t welcome the person who dismisses systemic racism & creates/enforces racist policies through abuses of power!!!" she said. "This is a disgrace to our city & a breach of trust to our communities."
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey sounded off as well, saying, "We are in court against Bill Barr constantly, and I can tell you this man does not care about justice or the people of Boston."
Gross, meanwhile, is pushing back at critics over his meeting with Barr, which happened amid a debate over police reform in Massachusetts and around the country in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
He explained to reporters Thursday night that he used the meeting to explain to Barr his perspective on the national police reform movement as a Black man and as a police commissioner.
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"I don't run, duck and hide from any conversation," Gross said. "I'll be damned if I'm going to hide from a conversation from anyone, especially in D.C."
The police commissioner said he talked with Barr about how Floyd's killing set law enforcement back decades, the history of oppression of Black people and plans for police reform in Massachusetts.
He also blamed the unrest in Boston after a peaceful demonstration on May 31 on an anarchist group with an agenda. He said that Walsh "had nothing to do" with the meeting, but the mayor understands that Gross is willing to talk with anyone about issues affecting the city.
Barr recently came under fire for his involvement in clearing the park outside the White House of protesters so Trump could address the press in front of a nearby church.
The attorney general's visit marked the second time in the last week that a member of Trump's cabinet visited Boston. Last Friday, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar toured operations at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center with Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito.