Last night, we saw Round Two of Boston protests regarding what seems to be a rash of what we have been discussing over the past few blogs. Namely, instances of police killing citizens and, seemingly, nothing happening about it.
Allegations of homicide abound.
But not charged.
In at least two of these cases, grand juries, which are entities pretty much controlled by prosecutors, have found that there is not even probable cause to issue charges against the officers involved. This is despite various conflicting testimony and even videotapes of the event.
Last night, crowds were largely peaceful, and initial reports suggested few arrests even as masses of people blocked streets and highways staging “mass die-ins”.
“I’ve been catching a lot of feelings out here,” said demonstrator Kwaku Abankroh, 23, of Boston, who was in the crowd at North Station. “It resonates a lot more when you see all different types of people, black people, white people, all races, all sexualities, from the poorest of the poor to the richest of the rich. … Hopefully they’ll bring this message back to their peers and start challenging them and their ideas and maybe people will start to think about things differently.”
It marked the second time in a week that protesters have taken to the streets. About 50 people were arrested on November 25th as they tried to shut down several highway ramps but were blocked by police.
Last night’s demonstrations began with several hundred protesters who targeted the Christmas tree lighting on Boston Common, where families with children had gathered for a holiday celebration.
“I’ve got a 12-year-old son,” Peter Akra, 32 , of Boston, said on Boylston Street, just before the tree ceremony. “He could have easily been Trayvon Martin or Michael Brown. I’m here for him in the future. It’s not even about racism, it’s about human rights.”
Moving up from the tree ceremony near Park Street Station, marchers got through an open gate at the State House, and had a shoving match with troopers as they tried to shut the gate to stop more protesters from getting in. What state police described as a “very small number of arrests” took place there as the troopers caught protesters on the grounds.
Other protesters, by then numbering several thousand and chanting “Hands up, don’t shoot,” stretched in a long snaking line from the State House down Beacon Hill to Bowdoin and Cambridge streets, apparently headed toward City Hall Plaza.
Blocked by police from going any farther down Bowdoin, hundreds laid in the intersection and staged a so-called “die-in,” chanting, “Black lives matter!”
Working their way around police, the protesters arrived on City Hall Plaza and spilled down onto Congress Street. Police began blocking ramps to the Central Artery as the protesters moved toward them. At Haymarket, groups of protesters split up to move on North Station and South Station.
Masses of protesters flowed through the streets around North Station and blocked streets heading to Storrow Drive and Charlestown. Another crowd headed toward South Station, where police were blocking ramps. But some protesters got on the Massachusetts Turnpike and briefly blocked it near Exit 24.
Several people were arrested near North Station where they tried to get onto Interstate 93.
There is cause for these protesters’ concerns when it comes to police-involved homicides.
A recent Houston Chronicle investigation found that “police have been nearly immune from criminal charges in shootings” in Houston and other large cities in recent years. In Harris County, Texas, for example, grand juries haven’t indicted a Houston police officer since 2004; in Dallas, grand juries reviewed 81 shootings between 2008 and 2012 and returned just one indictment. Separate research by Bowling Green State University criminologist Philip Stinson has found that officers are rarely charged in on-duty killings, although it didn’t look at grand jury indictments specifically.
Attorney Sam’s Take On The Bottom Line To You
There is a great deal left to say on this subject, but we are going to change our perspective a bit. Some folks say that my treatment of this subject has been that of an opinion piece. That may be true. I have a lot of opinions on this subject. I have a lot of experience with it as well.
But, let’s leave those thoughts for another day. What is true is that that this blog is to bring you information about the criminal justice system that is of value, if not a warning, to you.
So, the point is, assuming you are not interested in these protests here and beyond and are not terribly interested in deaths from other states which are not even in Massachusetts…what message is here for you?
And I must tell you…there is a warning here for each and every one of you.
In my next posting (coming very shortly today), we will conclude this subject matter with an answer to that question.
For the original stories upon which this blog is based, please go to
http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/ferguson-michael-brown-indictment-darren-wilson/, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/03/eric-garner_n_6263656.html , http://www.bostonherald.com/news_opinion/local_coverage/2014/12/cop_chokehold_case_sparks_2nd_round_of_boston_protests and http://rt.com/usa/160528-salinas-cop-fatal-shooting/