On January 19 around one thousand people gathered at the Old State House (sight of the Boston Massacre) to march on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. There was a planned four-mile march in solidarity with similar events going on in at least twenty-eight other cities under the hashtag #ReclaimMLK. The Four Mile March idea was promoted by the Coalition Against Police Violence and picked up by local groups nationwide.
Two of the organizers spoke to the assembled crowd for about ten minutes before leading the leading the way onto the streets. Unlike many of the other larger marches the organizers distributed a printed route. Since the police knew exactly where the protesters were going to be, streets were closed off and traffic redirected well in advance. According to the Boston Globe, the organizers sought a permit for the march but did not submit paperwork in time.
Protesters marched up Tremont to Boylston where they continued alongside Boston Common. Although the weather was very good, there were not many people on the streets and virtually no cars. The protesters where escorted the whole route by police officers on bike and foot.
There have been a lot of comparisons between the Occupy movement from a few years ago and the Black Lives Matter movement today. Unlike the Occupiers, these protesters have a variety of specific demands all centering around racial justice; both economically and in the criminal justice system. Defunding the so called prison-industrial complex and ending the militarization of police were common along with demands for a $15 minimum wage.
After turning on to Charles St., midway down the block the group staged the first of two die-ins. Instead of the usual moment of silence, the names of victims of police violence were read over megaphones.
After about ten minutes, the march continued onto Beacon the Arlington Street where the police continued to reroute traffic away from the protesters. The whole march was definitively non-confrontational. At no point did the assembled crowd take over an intersection that wasn't already cleared by the police and no attempts were made to head toward highways or other major arteries.
This march was not organized or led by the group the blocked off I-93 earlier this week. Several of the protesters attending I spoke to wanted to take more direct, non-violent actions. I did not see any serious confrontations with police like I had at other events. The last march of this size I attended was much more disruptive and wasn't contained to a few blocks of park downtown.
The final destination of the march was the State House where the protesters staged a second die-in.
The protesters then moved to the steps in the Common across from the State House where several of the organizers spoke and encourage the crowd to get involved and help lead the movement going forward.