Newton mayor wants to meet with Black marathon spectators after policing controversy
Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller in an email to the community said she and the Newton police chief want to meet with spectators from two running groups who complained that police overzealously monitored them at the marathon because they were Black.
"We know this was very upsetting for these spectators," Fuller said. "We have heard their deep concerns."
Attorneys representing Pioneers Run Crew and TrailblazHers Run Co. had sent a letter to Fuller and Police Chief John Carmichael demanding an emergency meeting, an investigation of the police tactics used and a public apology.
Video from the race Monday near mile 21 in Newton, where the Pioneers and TrailblazHers were cheering, show some spectators stepping onto the course and running a few paces with friends passing by. Those familiar with the marathon say that kind of support has been common in the past and hasn't resulted in a large police presence like the running groups experienced.
But a group of police with bicycles lined up to block the group from nearing the course. The Newton mayor reiterated the police department's response to the criticism, saying the Boston Athletic Association had notified them three times about spectators crossing the rope barrier and impeding other spectators.
Fuller's email said: "We look forward to welcoming these running clubs back next year. We will join in their enthusiasm, working with everyone to keep the day safe and joyous for athletes, spectators, volunteers and supporters."
The Boston Athletic Association has acknowledged its part in the incident. BAA chief executive Jack Fleming said in part that the organization "did not deliver on our promise to make it a great day for everyone."
In a statement, the BAA said it met Wednesday night with members of the two running groups.
The BAA said, "We need to do better to create an environment that is welcoming and supportive" of diverse communities at the marathon.