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Highway Protests: Who Speaks For African-Americans In Boston?18:52

This article is more than 5 years old.

Thursday, there were dramatic protest that brought morning rush hour traffic along I-93 to a standstill. In a pair of coordinated actions, the protesters formed human barricades north of the city in Medford, where they chained themselves together. And to the south, in Milton, they chained themselves to cement-filled barrels that blocked the highway.

Police arrested 29 of the protesters. They were arraigned on various charges, including disorderly conduct, trespassing and resisting arrest.

The demonstrators say they were protesting "police and state violence against black people." None of those arrested were black. In a statement, they described themselves as a "non-black group of pan-Asians, Latinos and white people."

Megan Collins, who spoke for the protesters, said the aim was, "to draw attention to the white complacency of people coming in from outside the city, into Boston, into a city that's deeply segregated, where people of color are unfairly over-policed."

The protests took place on the birthday of slain civil rights leader, Martin Luther King, Jr. They were the latest in a series of demonstrations across the country following police killings of unarmed black men in Ferguson, Missouri and New York City last year.

But Thursday's action raises important questions around public safety, civil rights, legitimate protest,and who exactly these protesters are speaking for.


Rev. Eugene Rivers, co-founder of the Boston TenPoint Coalition, and pastor at the Azusa Christian Community Church in Boston.

Peniel Joseph, founding director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at Tufts University, where he is also a professor of history. He's also a contributing editor at The Root. He tweets @PenielJoseph.


WBUR: Protesters Snarl I-93 Morning Commute North And South Of Boston

  • "Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said the protests put the public, emergency personnel and the demonstrators themselves in danger. 'There are ways to demonstrate in a peaceful manner,' Walsh said. Gov. Charlie Baker said in a statement issued by a spokeswoman that 'endangering drivers and impeding access to medical facilities' was not the best way to protest."

This segment aired on January 16, 2015.

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