Several thousand people took to the streets of Boston to protest the non-indictment of the police officer who choked Eric Garner to death in July. This protest was one of dozens taking place at the same time around the nation on December 4, the day after the Grand Jury results were announce in New York City.
We all met in the Boston Common near the Boylston Green Line train station exit. By the time I got there around 7 PM there were already hundreds crowded around the sides of the park. It looked like there were hundreds more protesting further in the Commons.
After marching a short distance through the park, by the packed Christmas tree lighting, we all headed to the State House entrance.
Three protesters were able to force themselves through the front gates before state troopers were able to lock them. All three protesters were immediately tackled, handcuffed and arrested.
Although I managed to get right to the fence, It was virtually impossible to get a clear view of what was happening to the protesters who were only twenty-five or thirty feet away.
After leaving the State House, a large group proceeded to march to the corner of Cambridge and Bowdoin.
The protesters took over the intersection for a "die-in," blocking all traffic.
The march continued down to Government Center where we met up with another, larger group of protesters. I don't know if they came from the Commons by a different route but for the first time I got a good look at the number of people out in the streets and there were thousands, filling the whole plaza.
From Government Center we marched up to the Boston Garden and up Causeway towards the Storrow Drive and the I-93 on ramp. Once the bike cops started to get ahead of the crowd, in an attempt to head us off, a group of about a thousand reversed direction and sprinted to the Charlestown bridge.
Once the police caught on, they rushed to the Tobin Bridge and I-93 on ramps and blocked it before anyone could make it there. So, the protesters took over the intersection, holding hands to block all three sides until the rest of the marchers could come and occupy the middle.
One driver stuck in the intersection accelerated and tried to drive through crowd, almost hitting several people. I was only a few feet away and took his picture through the driver-side window. He saw the flash and began to get out of his car while the threatening me. Before he could make it more than a few steps, two police officers grabbed him and threw him back into his vehicle.
I had no intention of getting into a fight with him and simply walked away. His car was stuck in that intersection until the march moved on.
After marching up Route 99 to the Bunker Hill Community College, the protesters headed back towards Boston across the Gilmore Bridge. The police were already waiting for us at the I-93 and Storrow Drive on ramps, with lines of officers blocking the way.
The protesters blocked off the intersection while holding up mirrors to the officers opposite them. Protesters chanted "Who do you protect? Who do you serve" amongst other things before moving on back towards Haymarket.
I was somewhere in the middle of the pack when we were passing Haymarket heading towards Faneuil when someone must have noticed that the police had all moved a head of us. A handful of protesters, including myself, sprinted in the opposite direction and managed to block of traffic to the I-93 tunnel.
Twenty or thirty of us made it onto the on ramp. Two protesters made it into the tunnel itself.
Within minutes the police blocked off the entrance to the ramp, preventing additional protesters from getting in. Then in a flash, cops on bikes, came flying down the tunnel. My right leg was hit by an officer's bike.
Other protesters further down the ramp (and one in the tunnel itself) were basically knocked over by bikes. Most of the photos I took of this were a blur of lights, the backs of heads and a few over-exposed yellow pictures of one woman being arrested in the tunnel.
The young woman in the photo with the sign reading "White Silence = White Complicity" was roughly grabbed and shoved my the police as they struggled to set up a line of bikes in the tunnel. Protesters were only able to hold the tunnel for about five more minutes. Everyone left before the reinforcements showed up to arrest everybody. I think two protesters were arrested on the ramp, the two who made it into the tunnel.
After the tunnel it seemed like the protesters broke up into smaller groups. The group I ended up with was much smaller, a few dozen, marched back by Faneuil Hall and Government Center toward Park Street. As we approached Park, I could see a few hundred more people already there. Behind us a police car had it's siren on and was loudly trying to get through the crowd. A few of the officers ran into the intersection being occupied and told everyone an ambulance needed to get by.
The crowd parted as protesters always do whenever an ambulance or other emergency vehicle needed to get by except this time there was no ambulance. One police SUV and two police vans filled with officers and no EMTs was trying to pass the protesters. Everyone reacted angrily when they saw no ambulance in sight and that the police blatantly lied.
Protesters surround the second van and the cops that protected it, clearly angry at being deceived. There was a lot of shoving between officers and protesters, including a pair of women in their 20s. One protester was throwing things at the officers by the van, I counted three small objects. None of the them hit their intended targets.
The van wouldn't move another foot until the protests broke up about an hour later.
I can't stress enough how peaceful (but highly disruptive) all the protests I witnessed were. There was no violence, no vandalism, no property destruction of any kind.
Just as the ambulance incident was beginning to die down, a young woman hopped on an unattended police car, much to the excitement of the crowd. Cooler-headed protesters immediately jumped to get her down before the police could react. The protesters did an excellent job of monitoring each other, making sure things remained totally peaceful.
After the first woman hopped down another protester got on the hood, daring the police to arrest him. He was dragged away by protesters. After that, police surround the cruiser.
Rev. Osagyefo Sekou helped defuse some of the tension with the police van and another instance when the police action that were inflaming the protesters. He spoke for a few minutes from on top of an electrical transformer across from the Park Street entrance.
After Rev. Sekou finished speaking, the crowd mostly dispersed and I headed home.