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2020: The Year In Photos
Thousands of protesters march up Washington Street on their way to rally at the Massachusetts State House. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Thousands of protesters march up Washington Street on their way to rally at the Massachusetts State House. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

2020 Photos: The Year In Protest


Pandemic. Politics. Protest.

Those were the central issues that dominated 2020. Our photographers selected images from our coverage that best capture and illustrate those major storylines of 2020.

Below are the images that told the story of the protests. We also have photo highlights of the year in politics and the pandemic. You can find a complete collection here of more than 100 of the very best shots WBUR took in 2020.


(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

April 23 | Protesters screamed out of their windows, part of a mobile caravan driving past Baker’s home in Swampscott to protest the closures in the state due to the pandemic.

(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

May 4 | About 500 protesters gathered outside the State House, defying the ban of the gatherings of more than ten people, during the "Liberty Rally" demanding the Governor to lift the shutdown of nonessential businesses in the state.

(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

May 4 | A man screams angrily demanding the governor lift the shutdown of nonessential businesses in the state, during the "Liberty Rally" outside the State House.

(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

May 4 | At the "Liberty Rally," about 500 protesters gathered outside the State House, defying the ban of the gatherings of more than 10 people.

(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

May 29 | About one-thousand protesters march down Washington Street in Boston in outrage over the killing of George Floyd among other protests nationwide.

(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

May 29 | About one-thousand of people gathered at Peters Park in the South End to protest police brutality and the killing of Black people by police.

(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

May 30 | About 100 protesters gathered at the Reopen Massachusetts NOW rally in front of the State House.

Racial Justice Protest On May 31

(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

On May 31, thousands gathered at Nubian Square in Roxbury, preparing to march through the city to the State House. They were there to protest against police brutality, joining other marches around the country and the world. It had been barely a week since a Minneapolis police officer had knelt on George Floyd's neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, killing Floyd, who was Black.

The official event, led by Black Boston, ended peacefully at the State House as night fell. About 20 minutes after the march ended, the MBTA announced via Twitter that it was shutting down some nearby stations. And Boston police officers, who had visibly been following and monitoring the event since it began in Roxbury, began to arrive in more numbers on foot, by bike and in vehicles.

The event quickly turned sour. A few protesters threw water bottles and insults at police officers; and officers, in response, use batons, pepper spray and tear gas to push them back.

In December, the news site The Appeal published video footage from Boston police officers' body cameras, which appeared to show officers deliberately targeting protesters with pepper spray and batons.

The photos below are from that day and night.

(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Thousands of protesters marched up Washington Street on their way to the rally at the State House.

(Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
(Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

Protesters take a knee outside the State House.

(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Someone threw a boot at a Boston police vehicle, as protesters confronted officers on Washington Street in Downtown Crossing.

(Jesse Costa./WBUR)
(Jesse Costa./WBUR)

Milk is poured onto a protester's face after he was pepper sprayed by Boston police in Downtown Crossing.

(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

A line of Boston police officers forced protesters out of Downtown Crossing.

(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

A person smashed a window of a jewelry store on School Street. Many of the people in the crowd started looting various stores in the area.

(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

A protester walks on a Boston Police SUV set fire on Tremont Street after the anti-police brutality and racial justice rally at the Massachusetts State House.

(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

A Boston police officer looked around, with a police SUV on fire behind him on Tremont Street.

(Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
(Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

An armored vehicle drove past the State House as protesters dispersed.

(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

A protester threw back a tear gas canister back at police in the Boston Common.

(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Boston police entered the Boston Common to confront protesters.

(Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
(Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

Police motorcycles blocked protestors' way on Tremont Street.

(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

June 1 | A Boston Parks and Recreation worker painted over graffiti on a wall of the Frog Pond Pavilion in the Boston Common, left by protesters after the Black Lives Matter rally the night before.

(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

June 2 | Boston police are followed by protesters as they walk toward Forest Hills Station after a standoff on Circuit Road following a Black Lives Matter Protest at the Shattuck Picnic Grove in Franklin Park. Other protesters wearing vests form a chain around police to prevent anyone from provoking them. Protesters followed the police for the next few hours on foot to the District E-13 station in Jamaica Plain.

(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

June 2 | A Boston officer looks down as protesters surround them in front on Forest Hills Station in Jamaica Plain.

(Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
(Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

June 2 | A Black Live Matter protest continued late into the night at the gates of the Massachusetts State House.

(Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
(Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

June 3 | The march moves along Tremont Street, pausing at Winter Street, which has been closed by National Guard soldiers.

(Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
(Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

June 3 | To end another march for George Floyd, protesters lay on Boston Common as if handcuffed.

(Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
(Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

June 3 | A protester held up a heart shaped inflatable at a march for George Floyd.

(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

June 4 | A woman held a sign at the Soldier’s Memorial in Jamaica Plain where hundreds gathered for the Black Lives Matter rally.

(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

June 5 | Tracy Charles knelt with hundreds of her fellow staff on the Bulfinch Lawn outside the Wang entrance of Massachusetts General Hospital. The kneel-in was acknowledging the injustice of systemic and individual racism in the United States.

(Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
(Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

June 7 | Protesters in a march against police brutality crossed Stuart Street on their way from City Hall to Ruggles Station.

(Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
(Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

June 7 | Black Live Matter protesters walk by a Humvee on Tremont Street.

(Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
(Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

June 10 | Protesters at the For The People march raise their hands in unison in City Hall Plaza.

(Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
(Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

June 10 | Protesters at the For The People march raised signs in City Hall Plaza.

(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

June 16 | About 200 protesters marched down Tremont Street during a rally demanding to reopen deadly force cases by Boston Police.

(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

June 17 | A Black Lives Matter protester holds up his skateboard with an inscription during opposing Blue Lives Matter and Black Lives Matter rallies at the Holy Name Parish rotary in West Roxbury.

(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

June 17 | A Black Lives Matter protester stepped on a "Blue Lives Matter" flag at two opposing rallies in West Roxbury.

(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

June 17 | A young boy in a truck driving around the rotary at Holy Name Parish held a sign in support of the Boston police.

(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

June 19 | Black Lives Matter rally participants chanted at Town Field in Dorchester on Juneteenth. Far smaller groups of Blue Lives Matter supporters came to hold signs and express solidarity with police in a counter-protest.

(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

June 19 | A Blue Lives Matter supporter confronts Black Lives Matter rally participants at a Black Live Matter rally at Town Field in Dorchester.

(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

June 19 | During a hot day at Ronan Park in Dorchester, families attending a Juneteenth rally kept cool on the spray pad.

(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

June 30 | Action organizer Savannah Kinzer walked out with a group of other employees dismissed by managers for wearing Black Lives Matter masks during their shifts at Whole Foods on River Street in Cambridge. A group of employees later sued the company over its restrictions on the masks.

(Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
(Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

July 8 | "Black Lives Matter" painted across Washington Street between Eustis Street and Palmer Street in Nubian Square.

(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

July 8 | Isaura Oliveira danced around the marker at the site of the Boston Massacre, in front of the Old State House, during the Dismantle Now! BIPOC Solidarity Against White Supremacy: March + Art Action.

(Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
(Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

Aug. 10 | Activists from Extinction Rebellion raised a banner on the side of the Citgo sign facing Fenway Park which read "Climate Justice Now" on Monday evening. While the activists were still pulling up the sign, wind appeared to snap the bar holding the banner straight, causing it to collapse.

(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Aug. 13 | Helen Y. Davis Leadership Academy student Jay’dha Rackard stands out of the roof of a car holding a sign reading "We want a safe school" as the Boston Teachers Union Safe Restart caravan arrives at City Hall. Members of the Boston Teachers Union held a rally at City Hall to call for a remote-only start for the upcoming school year, concerned about the risk of the coronavirus pandemic.

(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Aug. 19 | Hundreds of members of the Massachusetts Teachers Union attended a rally at the State House demanding Baker safely reopen schools.

(Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
(Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

Sept. 3 | Artist Ricardo "Deme5" Gomez's street painting, "Rules of Engagement" on Bartlett Station Drive in Roxbury.

(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Sept. 10 | A Back the Blue supporter waves a flag in a sea of thin blue line flags during a rally that drew Black Lives Matter counter-protesters to the front of Arlington City Hall.

(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Sept. 18 | Kate Kavanaugh, left, embraces Michelle Olsen as they mourn for Ruth Bader Ginsburg shortly after the announcement of her death Friday evening during a small vigil in Monument Square in Concord.

(Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
(Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

Sept. 21 | An impromptu memorial for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at Harvard Law School Library. The justice died at age 87 from complications due to cancer.

(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Sept. 25 | Over a thousand people gathered for a rally on Nubian Square Plaza to protest the decision made by Kentucky Grand Jury in the Breonna Taylor case.

(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Sept. 25 | A woman with her son on her shoulders holding up a T-shirt with the words “Please Don't Kill My Son” at the Justice for Breonna Taylor rally at Nubian Square.

(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Sept. 25 | Protesters stopped out in front on Boston Police Headquarters in Roxbury during the Justice for Breonna Taylor rally.

(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Sept. 25 | Protesters marched past Boston Police headquarters during the Justice for Breonna Taylor rally.

(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Sept. 25 | Boston police officers armed withThese selected photographs reflect the images that best helped us tell the stories of the pandemic. batons and wearing riot gear climbed the stairs of City Hall Plaza on Congress Street as protesters gathered on Congress Street during the Justice for Breonna Taylor rally.

(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Oct. 3 | Lorraine Cambria waved cars leaving the Lexington Service Center on Route 95, as they merged with the rest of the caravan to drive to a Trump rally in Londonderry, New Hampshire.

(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Nov. 4 | Protesters marched down Washington Street through Nubian Square during the Freedom Fighter Coalition protest.

(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Nov. 7 | Shortly after Joe Biden is declared the winner of the 2020 election for president, things get a little tense between Trump and Biden supporters during opposing rallies in front of the Massachusetts State House.

(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Nov. 7 | Tristan Homewood waved a Biden campaign flag as he stood on a street lamp on the corner of Boylston and Charles streets to celebrate Joe Biden’s presidential victory.

(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Nov. 8 | Two rally participants, one with a Black Lives Matter flag, watched the rally standing by the Government Center MBTA station.

Related:

Jesse Costa Twitter Photographer, Multimedia Producer
Jesse Costa is the multimedia producer for WBUR.

More…

Robin Lubbock Twitter Videographer, Photographer
Robin Lubbock is a videographer and photographer for WBUR.

More…

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2020: The Year In Photos