A massive crowd of demonstrators gathered at Boston Common during Thursday’s tree lighting ceremony to protest against two recent high-profile cases of police officers not being indicted for killing unarmed black men.
Estimates of the total number of protesters reached into the thousands. Police arrested at least 10 of the protesters, according to The Boston Globe.
After leaving the State House around 8 p.m., the crowd of protesters dispersed to different sections of downtown Boston, closing streets in front of South Station and TD Garden. Some got on to ramps for the Massachusetts Turnpike and I-93, temporarily closing those roads.
A group of protesters descended into Park Street Station and stood on the tracks, shouting, “Whose tracks? Our tracks!’’
The protests at the station temporarily closed Parks Street for about an hour on Thursday night. As of 11:30 p.m., the MBTA resumed Green Line service downtown but were bypassing Park Street. In addition, Red Line trains were also bypassing Park Street late Thursday night.
As of late Thursday, the T recommended on its website that Green Line riders looking to get on the Red Line take the Orange Line to Haymarket and then take the train to Downtown Crossing.
Earlier in the evening, a heavy police presence separated protesters from the tree-lighting ceremony’s stage on the outskirts of Boston Common. Protestors’ chants of “Enough is enough,’’ “I can’t breathe,’’ and “Hands up, don’t shoot’’ mixed with various Christmas jingles like “Jingle Bell Rock’’ during the evening.
Several protesters were arrested by police at the State House just before 8 p.m.
Boston Police confirmed there were about 3,000 protesters at 8:30 p.m.
They ended back at the Common and met up with the larger event, titled “#EnoughIsEnough: We Are the Ones, Justice for Eric Garner,’’ which gathered at the same time as the Boston Common Tree Lighting ceremony Thursday night. More than 6,000 people said they were attending the event on Facebook.
Boston Police sent extra officers to the tree lighting ceremony, and encouraged protesters to be peaceful.
Boston Police Department Commissioner William B. Evans was in talks with local protesters prior to tonight’s rally, according to spokesman David Estrada.
“We have planned for it. We were prepared for it. We worked with some of the groups out there,’’ Estrada said.
Estrada would not reveal how many officers were sent to the protest, so as not to tip the department’s strategic hand.
The demonstrations come a day after a grand jury declined to indict New York police officer Daniel Pantaleo on any charges for the death of Eric Garner, who died after Pantaleo put him in an apparent chokehold in July. That decision came just over a week after a grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri, did not indict policeman Darren Wilson for the killing of unarmed black 18-year-old Michael Brown.
Last Tuesday, about 1,500 Bostonians blocked streets and chanted “No justice, no peace, no racist police’’ to protest that decision. Similar rallies on Boston streets and near Harvard Square have occurred since then.
We’re following the protest at Boston Common in the Storify below.