Images of 10.25.15 Black Lives Matter march by Chris Faraone
When the disappointing grand jury verdict swung down in Ferguson, Missouri last night, Daunasia Yancey, like so many other Americans, was glued to cable news and social media.
But as one of the point people behind the Boston outpost of Black Lives Matter — a group born out of the Ferguson protests “to build connections between Black people and our allies to fight anti-Black racism,” “spark dialogue amongst Black people,” and “facilitate the types of connections necessary to encourage social action and engagement” — she also had a larger responsibility to help organize a public conversation in Boston this evening.
“Our call [to action] was put out in response to people in the community asking us and reaching out to us,” Yancey tells DigBoston. Tonight at 7pm, Black Lives Matter will assemble outside of the B2 police station in Dudley Square for an event dubbed #INDICTAMERICA. “We followed about 70 other cities that are doing something similar,” she adds.
Yancey says BLM Boston is situated to facilitate a demonstration in response to Ferguson, as some activists involved have spent the past several months addressing those issues on a local level. On October 25, the group summoned hundreds to the Public Garden for a march down Newbury Street that culminated in a shutdown of the intersection at Mass Ave.
Today, Yancey and other organizers are pounding social media, but also showing up at transportation hubs to inform Bostonians about tonight’s action. Meeting people face to face, she says, works toward the BLM mission of building conversations about state brutality and other relevant topics.
As for what to expect tonight, Yancey says that is up to the crowd. “We will hold space for however long people want to stay there.” At the time of this writing her group has not spoken with or been contacted by the Boston Police Department, which managed to safely patrol a crowd of about 200 mostly college students who took action last night.
As a clarification, Yancey says any rumors that BLM is marching this afternoon are not true. Additionally, there is a community meeting being held at Twelfth Baptist Church in Roxbury at 6pm, which is not in coordination with Black Lives Matter, that Mayor Marty Walsh is encouraging folks to attend.
Meanwhile, Boston activists are also preparing in Missouri, where Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou of the First Baptist Church in Jamaica Plain has been teaching nonviolent disobedience tactics to protesters. For a glimpse of the ground through some local eyes, we reached out to Boston organizer Terry Marshall of the protest arts outfit Intelligent Mischief. He spent last night on the St. Louis side of things with fellow activist Liz Padgett, and shared his experience with the Dig:
“There was a lot of waiting. Then when the verdict happened, there were two calls to action. First [one organization] told people to head to the Ferguson Police Department, and that was the biggest gathering point. Also a group called South Side Solidarity, which is largely a group of white people who live in St. Louis, had a second call to go to the site of where [Vonderrick Myers Jr.] was killed. We went to the latter; it was closer to where we were staying. You probably didn’t see it on the news but …
“At first about 200 people started marching, and the police were pretty much leaving people alone, and then people started marching toward the highway …
“They were literally just letting people march and backing off. Then, the march had grown to nearly 500 people, and they took over a highway. Police later came, they brought out a tank, they brought out riot gear. Police gave a lawful order to disperse, then people started marching near an intersection near a safe space …
“A tank came and started speeding up, and they were shooting smoke bombs. Some people retreated into the safe space, and then after a long while the police retreated. We thought it was over, and then around 1am we went back to the apartment that was hosting us, and police came back [to the safe space], and the tank came back and started shooting more smoke bombs. No one was outside, but they also started shooting tear gas. Liz went outside and experienced the tear gas. They trapped people inside the safe space, and they just kept shooting tear gas. After about a half an hour or an hour or so, they left …
“Right now there are actions to shut down Clayton, which is the [county seat] of St. Louis. People are forming groups and doing nonviolent actions there. We’re going to get some rest, since we were up until 4am, but then we’re headed right back out.”
A Queens, NY native who came to New England in 2004 to earn his MA in journalism at Boston University, Chris Faraone is the editor and co-publisher of DigBoston and a co-founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. He has published several books including 99 Nights with the 99 Percent, and has written liner notes for hip-hop gods including Cypress Hill, Pete Rock, Nas, and various members of the Wu-Tang Clan.