Hundreds gather to protest police brutality after Tyre Nichols killing


Patrick O'Neal

Demonstrators from the Party for Socialism and Liberation carry a banner with the words “The people united will stop racist police brutality” as they lead a march through Boston Common Saturday, Jan. 28. Protests continued through the weekend after videos of Tyre Nichols’ killing were made public.

Boston’s Party for Socialism and Liberation led protests against police brutality Friday, Jan. 27 and Saturday, Jan. 28 after videos of Tyre Nichols’ deadly encounter with Memphis police were publicly released.

Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man, was beaten and tased by five Memphis police officers Jan. 7 during a traffic stop. He was hospitalized for his injuries and died three days later. The five officers were arrested and charged with second-degree murder, and two more officers were fired along with three members of the Memphis Fire Department who responded to the traffic stop. 

Friday’s protest began quickly after the release of the videos at 7 p.m. at the entrance to Park Street Station. The marchers then circled the perimeter of Boston Common, chanting “Racist cops kill hour-by-hour, what do we do? Fight the power,” as well as other common chants associated with the Black Lives Matter movement.

Though the video of Nichols sparked protests nationwide, Boston’s demonstration highlighted others killed by police within the city. Arif Sayed Faisal, a 20-year-old Bangladeshi American student at University of Massachusetts, Boston, was shot and killed Jan. 4 by Cambridge police. In 2020, 41-year-old Juston Root was shot over 31 times by police in Brookline. Protestors also emphasized the case of South End resident Terrence Coleman, who died in 2016 after his mother called the police for a mental health evaluation.

Around 150 protesters returned to the steps across from the Massachusetts State House Saturday afternoon, where organizers and activists spoke to the crowd before leading a march through downtown Boston via Washington Street and Tremont Street. The protest swelled closer to 500 as passersby joined the march along its route, and returned to around 150 when the crowd returned to the Boston Common.

Jennifer Root Bannon, Juston Root’s sister, said before Saturday’s march that she has “had enough” and called on public officials to launch independent investigations into police killings in the United States. “Far too often across this country, not just here in Massachusetts, the police investigate themselves,” she said.