About 1,400 people in Boston rallied in Dudley Square, marched through the streets, and blocked traffic in a sprawling, peaceful protest against the decision not to indict a Ferguson policeman for killing unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
“I have a 19-year old son out there who could easily be knocking on the wrong door and find himself in any of these situations,’’ Nikki Kirsch, a master’s student at Boston University School of Theology who decided to attend the protest, said. “I feel like Jesus the radical, Jesus the social rebel would be out here with us.’’
The night began with a series of speakers in Dudley Square, who called for protests against police violence and for justice. Over the course of the evening, the demonstrators marched toward the Massachusetts Avenue Connector, up Massachusetts Avenue, and then down Boylston Street.
The Boston Police Department continuouslyreferred to the “peaceful demonstrations’’ on its Twitter feed over the course of the evening. 51 people were arrested, according to Massachusetts State Police, and a state trooper was injured when a protestor bit him on the wrist.
A series of community leaders and event organizers spoke in Dudley Square from about 7 to 8 p.m., as police quietly looked on from headquarters across the street.
“The state has sanctioned violence against black people, and continues to do so,’’ Daunasia Yancey, the organizer of the event for Black Lives Matter Boston, said to the crowd. “We can choose to dismantle this system that has never and will never work for us.’’
“I think it’s especially profound that it’s happening here [in Dudley],’’ Celine O’Connor, another master’s student at BU School of Theology, said, citing the area’s history of police-community issues. “It’s not a black issue, and it’s not a white issue. It’s a justice issue.’’
Chanting “Black lives matter’’ and “No justice, no peace. No racist police,’’ the group then moved on foot north on Harrison Avenue and east on Melnea Cass Blvd. toward the Mass. Avenue Connector. Police officers were stationed on the path and rode bicycles alongside the marching protestors to guide the way.
At the Mass. Avenue Connector, protestors attempted to walk onto the I-90/I-93 highway and block traffic, but a tightly formed line of police officers and vehicles blocked the highway entrance. Unable to move forward because of the police line, protestors sat down on the Mass Ave Connector across both lanes of traffic.
The sitdown was located just outside the South Bay House of Correction, a building under the Suffolk County jail system. People inside the correctional facility appeared to support the protestors by banging on windows and raising their hands in the “hands up, don’t shoot’’ posture. Several inmates wrote “Mike Brown’’ on a window.
At about 9:30, a large group of protestors turned away from the police line and walked northwest along Mass Ave. Demonstrators flooded the street, walking around and between vehicles and blocking traffic on both sides.
Supportive drivers honked or gave out high fives; others stared down at their phones as people passed by.
The crowd continued marching down Boylston Street on to Dewey Square over the evening, and eventually petered out after midnight.
David Vitale-Wolff, holding a sign reading “This Jewish family thinks all life is equally precious,’’ explained why he came out to the demonstration.
“If it starts with killing black people, who’s next?’’