Around New England

Boston Police Weren’t At Full Strength During Riot, Despite What Mayor Said Last Week

June 8, 2020

The Boston Police Department did not call every available police officer to deal with the protest and subsequent rioting on Sunday, May 31, the city’s mayor told The Boston Globe.

It’s an about-face from what Mayor Marty Walsh said during a press conference Thursday, June 5.

“In a brief phone interview, Walsh indicated he misspoke at the news conference,” The Boston Globe reported in a news story published Saturday, June 6.

Rioters attacked police and buildings after nightfall Sunday, May 31, following several hours of what had been peaceful protests concerning the death in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Monday, May 25 of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, at the hands of a white police officer.

In the late-night violence in Boston on Sunday, May 31, nine police officers were taken to hospitals with injuries, among at least 27 people taken to the hospital overall. Businesses were looted in Downtown Crossing and in the Back Bay. One man is charged with firing a gun at police during the mayhem.

Below is a transcript of the exchange during the mayor’s press conference Thursday, June 5, based on a video (starting at 25:55):

 

Reporter:  Regarding events on Sunday:  Was there a full police call-up for BPD at the beginning of the protest?

And when I say that, I mean:  was every able-bodied Boston police officer on duty at the start of the demonstration?  If not, why not?

 

Mayor Marty Walsh:  Yeah, the question is:  On Sunday, was every able body a full-call-up, ah, in the police department on Sunday?

And the answer to that is yes.

Ahh — And, and, ahm, you know, the crowd was, was bigger than anticipated.

Ahm, and, and, and again, you know, I, I don’t want to focus on the negative here. There were, there were people there that clearly weren’t there, ah,  to protest , ah, the injustices of Mr. Floyd’s death. Ahm — They were there to cause havoc. And that’s what happened. And that’s unfortunate.”

 

A follow-up written statement from the mayor reported by The Boston Globe suggests that city authorities intentionally kept the police presence less than it could have been as part of a strategy:

“The Boston Police Department went into Sunday’s march focused on keeping all participants safe, and respecting their space to protest and make their voices heard. As a city that prides itself on our strong community policing model, it was imperative to strike the right balance between having a police presence for safety, and understanding the very heart of the issue that brought this march together.”

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