George Floyd

Protesters Call for Sweeping Police Reform in Boston, Across Massachusetts

The protesters called for police to be defunded, and for the money to go to social programs

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Thousands of peaceful protesters marched Sunday evening through the streets of Boston, rallying against police brutality and calling for sweeping reforms to the law enforcement system following the death of George Floyd.

The protesters, calling for funds to be redirected from police to social programs, marched through a large swath of the city after rallying at City Hall.

Holding signs with messages including "Abolish the police," Defund the Police" and "Black Lives Matter," the protesters marched roughly three miles down Tremont Street, through the Theatre District, along Boston Common through the South End and all the way to Roxbury.

“Come together, please!” shouted Kimberly Deal, who stopped her car near the State House and joined the demonstrators. “It’s not your life, my life, his life — it’s all of our lives, together. Stop this violence! Stop this nonsense!”

The protesters eventually made their way to Roxbury where they took a knee and raised their fists to the sky in the middle of the street and held a moment of silence before moving to the MBTA's Ruggles Station.

“It’s important for me to stand against police brutality and racism," Boston teacher Josette Teneus said. "This is 2020 and this kind of treatment should not be happening. We should all treat each other with respect, dignity and kindness.”

Boston and military police followed the large crowd but things never got out of hand. Northeastern University police did catch one man burning an American flag near the crowd in Roxbury, however.

A few dozen protesters briefly blocked part of Tremont Street near the Common earlier Sunday night. They shouted at military police officers because they were wearing riot gear.

Organizers said the event was intended as a peaceful one. Still, a large police presence, including military trucks, was seen along the route, with police from nearby communities on hand to assist the Boston Police Department. Officers were seen on motorcycles following the marchers, and on bicycles.

Also in Boston on Sunday, Clergy United, a coalition of faith-based organizations, held an interfaith memorial service to mourn Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. A procession of hearses to honor these victims moved through the city at 2 p.m.

Elsewhere in Massachusetts, protesters gathered Sunday in Framingham and in Newton, where the "Greater Boston Teens Against Systemic Racism" organization protested an upcoming budget increase for Newton Police.

Later Sunday night in Lawrence, things got heated between protesters and police down the street from the Lawrence Police Department.

NBC10 Boston cameras captured the scene after one protester allegedly threw items at police. Two arrests were made following the incident, according to a statement from Lawrence police.

The arrests came after a day of peaceful protest at Lawrence City Hall and the North Common where a crowd estimated at around 300 people gathered alongside city leaders and police to call for an end to social injustice and police brutality.

Following the rally, Lawrence police say the majority of the crowd dispersed peacefully. A small group of people, however, gathered along barriers near the Lawrence Police Station. Chief Roy Vasque met with the group and had a peaceful discussion with them, the statement said.

Later in the evening, the group reassembled at the opposite end of Lowell Street and grew to approximately 60 people. They continued to have peaceful conversations with officers in the area, police said.

Around 8:30 p.m., a man climbed over the barrier and began approaching the police line as he was throwing projectiles at the officers, according to police. As officers were taking the man into custody, a second person began throwing projectiles at police, and he was subsequently also taken into custody.

Paul Coelho, 41, of Lawrence, was charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct.

Eleri Dume-Morillo, 25, also of Lawrence, was charged with two counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct.

Lawrence police say they are grateful to the majority of protesters who peacefully had their voices heard at events in the city both Friday and Sunday.

Chief Vasque and Mayor Dan Rivera helped organize Sunday's event. Both have vowed to work with the community they serve.

As people continue to demand justice and change following George Floyd's death, protests were held throughout Massachusetts on Saturday, including in Worcester, Cambridge, Salem, and Lawrence.

Groups have gathered daily across the commonwealth in the weeks since Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was killed while in police custody on May 25. People in cities and towns across the state have held marches, rallies and die-ins to denounce systemic racism, condemn police brutality and call for reform.

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