Despite violence perpetrated by white supremacists a mere week prior in Virginia, counter-protesters at last weekend’s “free speech” rally in Boston claim the police were there to protect the alt-right.
According to The Intercept, the police reaction to the alt-right demonstrators in Boston versus anti-racists who came to protest them was striking.
In one anecdote, Boston-based rapper Oompa describes a heated verbal (but not yet physical) exchange she had with a white man in a Republican Party shirt. Oompa told the man his shirt was “violent” and represented a threat to her community, and police intervened — but made it clear that they didn’t share her view as they confronted her with their backs to the Republican man.
“Your back is to him, because you’re protecting him,” Oompa reportedly told one of the officers. “If your back was to me, it would mean you have my back. Your back ain’t to me.”
The rapper, who has been a part of anti-racist and anti-fascist organizing in Boston for years, told The Intercept that she’d never seen police protecting demonstrators in similar ways at the previous protests she’d attended.
The police reaction after the alt-righters fled the scene (with the assistance of police), she continued, further proved that BPD used what she and others believe was excessive force.
Along with multiple barricades, riot police arrived after the alt-right dispersal, and were met with protesters who’d blocked the streets.
“Who do you serve? Who do you protect?” some of the protesters, mostly young black men, yelled with raised hands (a gesture used at Black Lives Matter protesters to symbolize the “hands up, don’t shoot” chant coined after Mike Brown was killed in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014).
After a pause, the report continues, the police pushed through the crowd, hitting protesters and physically driving some to the ground to arrest them. Several were pepper-sprayed as well, and BPD claimed 33 protests in total were arrested.
Though BPD quickly lauded the “by and large successful” police presence at the rally, “Boston resident Ashley Lloyd said police were too aggressive with protesters,” the report noted.
“The notion that the police were expending their resources to protect people with a hateful ideology while detaining counterprotesters was something that she, and others, found especially distasteful,” it continued.
“There were a lot of people who weren’t doing much that were arrested today,” Lloyd told The Intercept. “[BPD’s] actions today, to me, were unacceptable. For us, as a community, unacceptable.”
Similar accusations have been leveled against police in Charlottesville during the “Unite the Right” rally, when police failed to prevent a black man from being beaten in a parking deck next to their police station and allegedly didn’t protect a synagogue, causing worshippers to hire their own security.
Watch video of police using what counter-protest say was “excessive force” below, via France24’s Philip Crowther.
My footage from Boston: violent clashes between the police and protesters. pic.twitter.com/S1vWB0hDV0
— Philip Crowther (@PhilipinDC) August 20, 2017