Statement from United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling
Loud, even disruptive, protests honor the memory of George Floyd and increase the pressure for swift, transparent accountability for those who killed him. I commend those who protested loudly, yet peacefully. But stealing suits, robbing a jewelry store, and rounding out the night by vandalizing businesses in Back Bay, attacking police and torching cruisers? That’s crime, and nothing more.
Let me be clear: the violence and destruction last night in Boston was an embarrassment to the movement for police reform and accountability. The Boston Police, supported by State Police, Transit Police, federal law enforcement and the National Guard, was doing its job – the dangerous, necessary job of protecting the public safety. I support them completely and, if needed, I will use federal charges to make that point.
I commend the Boston Police and the hundreds of other local, state and federal officers on the streets last night, for their bravery, professionalism and restraint. You reminded us that 99% of law enforcement officers are true public servants, putting themselves in harm’s way for the rest of us.
U.S. Attorneu Andrew Lelling
Official Statement of Boston City Council President Kim Janey
This is a critical time in our nation’s history, and just like Black lives, how we respond in Boston, matters. As President of the Boston City Council and as the District 7 Councilor, I am extremely proud of the peaceful protest that took place in Roxbury’s Nubian Square yesterday.
Breonna Taylor was struck by 8 bullets, killed in her own home in Louisville after police used a battering ram to enter. George Floyd’s haunting, and all too familiar, cries for breath, as a police officer in Minneapolis held his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck for almost 9 minutes. These are not isolated incidents, but rather reincarnations of the violence wrought by centuries of chattel slavery and later Jim Crow Laws. What generations of Black people have witnessed and experienced is a system that finds new ways to devalue Black lives. And it has to end.
Roxbury has a deep history of community organizers and activists who have worked for many years to build up our community, and we are not about to let anyone come and tear it down. Deep gratitude goes out to the local organizers involved and to the Black men from our community who were there to support the efforts and ensure safety. I also want to thank the local police, who showed up very differently than they did at Friday’s protest at the B2 station, after I and others raised concerns. Instead of coming with helmets and sticks, they were in regular uniform, and they were instrumental in redirecting car traffic away from the growing crowd of protestors.
Even downtown the protest remained peaceful. Afterwards, there were a few who used this as an opportunity to wreak havoc in our city. Let’s be clear, we cannot allow interlopers to co-opt our movement for their own agenda. I condemn violence in all its forms, and that means violence against protestors and violence against police officers.
As a community organizer for the last 30 years, I know how important protest is to our struggle. This is about Black Lives. How the police treat us is a big part of that, but it’s not about them, it’s about US! Even in a world without police brutality and state sanctioned killings of unarmed Black people, our communities still face a myriad of inequities. We are still living in substandard housing, with low-paying jobs, and sending our children to under-resourced schools. It is because of these massive inequities that we are still being impacted by COVID disproportionately.
Boston’s recent and upcoming protests call for real change, that for too long has fallen upon deaf ears — change that closes Boston’s enormous wealth gap and addresses our housing crisis. Our agenda must be one that promotes and protects the true liberation of Black people in our country, after 400 years of oppression.
It is so exhausting to have to fight for your very existence, in your own country, every single day. Now is not the time to stand on the sidelines. We need everyone, including those who benefit from the system of white supremacy, to do what they can to dismantle it. We need true justice. We cannot have healing without it. Take care of yourselves and each other.
As always, in solidarity.
Boston City Council President