Black Lives Matter

‘We All Have to Show Up': Mass. Protests Continue as George Floyd's Death Resonates

“It’s about 400 years of being oppressed. It’s about 400 years of my ancestors dying and not being able to have a voice,” one protester said.

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From Boston to Worcester, and Salem to Cambridge, protests were held throughout Massachusetts on Saturday, as people continue to fill the streets, demanding justice and change following George Floyd's death.

Demonstrations have taken place all across the commonwealth and the country since Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died in police custody after a white officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. People are using the protests as a tool to denounce systemic racism, condemn police brutality and call for reform.

In Cambridge, hundreds of peaceful protesters marched through the city and into nearby Somerville, protesting against both President Donald Trump and police brutality.

"A lot of people say, 'where does change start?' Well, change is every day and it starts here,” Kendra Turner said.

“It’s important for me to support the black community in this struggle because I think it affects everybody, and we all have to show up to be supportive,” Hannah Peterson said.

The "Cambridge March Trump/Pence Out Now" kicked off at 4 p.m. in Central Square and continued down Mass. Ave. past Harvard Square, eventually making it into Somerville before heading back to Cambridge.

The roughly five-mile march included moments of shouting and silence.

“It’s about 400 years of being oppressed. It’s about 400 years of my ancestors dying and not being able to have a voice,” one man said.

Protesters also targeted Trump, blaming him for much of the unrest across the country.

“We have been living for three-and-a-half years under fascism. This nightmare must end. The whole Trump-Pence regime must go,” event organizer Scott Gilbert said.

Police from both Cambridge and Somerville followed the protesters throughout the march but everything stayed peaceful.

Meanwhile, the "UMass Boston Justice for Black Lives" began at 5:30 p.m. on the school's campus in Dorchester where students demanded criminal justice reform and the removal of cops from campus.

“The major demand that we are making now is that totally disinvest from police on our campus," graduate student Tracy Beard said.

Beard says she is calling for racial disparities on campus to improve.

“We see problems not only interpersonally but structurally, systemically, institutionally within our campus,“ she said.

According to the event's Facebook page, the protest, which started on Morrissey Boulevard and ended at the Bayside Exposition Center, was created to address systemic inequalities.

“Like many of you, I am sick and tired of this global conscious epidemic of black bodies being brutalized," one woman said.

There were visible signs of sympathy, expressing solidarity with black children and their parents.

“I have a 20-year-old son and he’s a black man,” said Izabel Depina who helped organize the rally. “It’s scary every day, I call him every day and I’m worried for him. Especially driving. I feel like there should be a witness when a police officer is pulling over a black man because his life is in danger. It really hurts me to have a son that I have to be scared for every day.”

It was a call to action from students of today and generations past.

“I am a child of the 60s and things haven’t changed unfortunately," a protester said. "We thought some things have changed but apparently they haven’t.”

Earlier in the day, "The Salem Stands With Black Lives" protest was held at 10 a.m. on the town Commons. A large crowd gathered, and protesters also spoke out against a police captain who was suspended for tweeting criticism at Boston Mayor Marty Walsh for permitting protests during the pandemic. Attendees had been asked to wear masks to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, according to the event's Facebook page.

Worcester held its fourth demonstration this week, as hundreds gathered at noon at City Hall for a march. Organizer's on the Facebook event page said the protest was meant to get people "to unite and join together as a community to stand in solidarity with Minneapolis."

The event highlighted racial injustices in all parts of society.

Alvin Muragori who spoke at the rally said the fight for equality is broadening the movement and including broader issues like those in healthcare and education.

Additionally, people at the protest observed 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence in tribute to Floyd, marking the exact amount of time an officer was kneeling on his neck.

Next door in Auburn, about 100 people held a peaceful protest in front of the library, where many held signs calling attention to the black lives matter movement. Those who attended said they were happy to see so many come together for the cause.

Down in Burlington, a socially distant vigil, organized by a UMass Boston student, was held at the town common in memory of Floyd. And in Lawrence, the "Lawrence Peaceful Protest" started at 2 p.m. at Campagnone Common.

There was also talk on social media Saturday of events being held at the Brookline Public Library, the Massachusetts State House, Canton Town Hall and Onset Beach.

All protesters are encouraged to wear masks or face coverings, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Ben Crump, the attorney for George Floyd's family, spoke at the memorial for Floyd and called for people to stand up to evil.

Saturday's protests come after multiple protests across the state Friday, most of which honored Floyd, as well as Breonna Taylor on what would have been her 27th birthday.

Friday at Nubian Square in Roxbury, people came together to demand change and they sang happy birthday to Taylor, a medical worker who was shot and killed by police in Louisville, Kentucky, on March 13.

Jaquelle Sneed, a 28-year-old Boston woman who organized the protest, said Taylor's death has heavily impacted her.

"She looks like me, she looks like my sister," Sneed said. "People continue to say 'do the right thing and you'll be fine' and that's what she was doing, she was doing the right thing, she was doing all she can for her community, and she still lost her life."

Protests were held across Massachusetts in the fight against racism and police brutality.
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