Images by Bill Hayduke
We have seen numerous downtown protests against police brutality, and as part of the nationwide Black Lives Matter movement. Last week in Dorchester, we got to see what a pro-police rally looks like.
One day after just over 100 protesters staged a die-in in front of the Boston Public Library during First Night, a crowd of roughly the same size flood flooded Adams Village, hardly more than a baton swing from where leagues of police hang their hats in Quincy and the Hub’s outer boroughs.
The scene was par for the force. A predominantly white crowd of parents, kids, and seniors waved American flags and hand-painted signs like they were cheering for a parade that never came. Although many of the placards lumped firefighters and emergency responders in with pro-police sympathies, the event was clearly organized in response to recent protests.
“The Boston Police do a good job, and they’re maligned by these protesters,” said a 63-year local who declined to share his name. “I don’t know what these people were thinking with their die-in.”
A lot of ralliers parroted a line commonly used by Police Commissioner Bill Evans, who has been saying that most demonstrators are from out of town, as if geographic origin weighs heavily on the legitimacy of this particular cause.
“All these protesters are zeroes. I think it’s terrible,” said one demonstrator. “They’re not even from around here. They don’t know what it’s like to live in the inner city like we do. It’s a racial thing. It’s black and white and it’s very sad. It’s actually more of a reverse discrimination. No one’s a victim.”
Back on Planet Earth, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund recently announced that 50 police officers were killed by firearms nationwide in 2014. In other words, cops are about as likely to be shot and killed as they are to die in a car accident.
Meanwhile, data on killings by police is incomplete at best, still roughly 500 such fatal shootings are reported each year, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Vital Statistics System. That data also shows that black Americans are about four times more likely than white people to be shot and killed by police.
To pro-cop ralliers, citing this statistic is the same as advocating for the murder of police.
“Nobody is telling the truth. These people are all walking around with their hands up and they’re totally lying,” said Pat, who works for the Quincy Police Department. “Cops aren’t out there just shooting black people. More whites are killed by police officers than black people are.”
There were plenty of young people on hand, many of whom didn’t understand the protests against law enforcement. One young teen holding a sign told his friend that he wanted to include the message “Down With Commies,” but was forbidden by his parents. Nevertheless, children were among the most ardent flag-wavers, with many boasting about officers in their own families.
“This is my first demonstration,” said Jake, a high school senior who seemed ambivalent to those protesting against police brutality. “Both my parents are police officers. They’re going to do what they wanna do and the police are going to do what they have to do.”
CORRECTION: A previous version of this post misattributed the following quotation to Kelly Butts of Dorchester: “All these protesters are zeroes. I think it’s terrible … They’re not even from around here. They don’t know what it’s like to live in the inner city like we do. It’s a racial thing. It’s black and white and it’s very sad. It’s actually more of a reverse discrimination. No one’s a victim.” Ms. Butts informed the Dig that it was not her who said that statement, but rather another demonstrator standing next to her. We have corrected the post to reflect this and regret the error.