Some police are taking a knee

Almost four years after former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick opted to kneel during the national anthem, police officers across the nation are doing the same, including in Massachusetts.

At least a dozen officers took a knee in front of Boston Police headquarters on Tuesday, in what some are calling a show of solidarity with those protesting the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man in Minneapolis who died in police custody.

Former Boston city councilor Tito Jackson thanked the police officers for showing solidarity. “They showed restraint and I also want to thank them for taking a knee,” Jackson told WBZ-TV. “It means a lot. It means a lot to us to hear that you care.”

Officer Kim Tavares, one of the Boston police officers who took a knee, said not all police officers think the same. “Black lives do matter,” she said. “When you have stuff like this, you still have to show them love.” In Worcester and New Bedford, some police similarly made the move.

Between Kaepernick and now, there have been plenty of examples of law enforcement deploying excessive use of force in arrests, and subsequently being cleared of wrongdoing. In Fall River last year, officers were shown on video punching the head of a student repeatedly while subduing him. In Cambridge, an independent review found the department acted properly when officers tackled and punched a Harvard University student acting erratically.

Floyd died under the knee of officer Derek Chauvin, pinned while in handcuffs for almost nine minutes. Chauvin, who now faces second-degree murder charges, had 18 complaints filed against him prior to the incident, only two of which involved disciplinary action — a letter of reprimand.

Boston Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham explores what it means for cops to take the knee, and whether it’s a move intended for crowd control, or a genuine gesture. As Abraham notes, Boston hasn’t seen deaths in police custody in a way other cities have, although concerns about alleged excessive force and racial profiling are present.

Terrence Coleman, a man with mental illness, was shot and killed by a Boston officer in 2016 in an altercation that stemmed from his mother calling 911 seeking help to get him out of the cold when he refused to go indoors. In 2019, a Boston police SWAT team allegedly entered the wrong apartment with a battering ram and held a family at gunpoint, handcuffing a mother, father, and 15-year-old daughter. Two smaller children were in the apartment at the time.

Rahsaan Hall, director of the racial justice program for the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, called it “a sentimental gesture” that requires being backed up by more codified ones, like improving police accountability and cultural competency. Social media debate over the past two days shows that many protesters are hungry for reform — not photo ops.

In Brockton, officers didn’t take a knee, but Police Chief Emanuel Gomes is promising a public review of the department’s use-of-force policy.

Advocates and legislators are saying that the best fix of all would be to have state and local reform to address police conduct, training, and accountability.

Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera said at a press conference he wants municipalities to create their own civil review boards and commissions with subpoena power to investigate allegations of law enforcement wrongdoing. At the same press conference, Rep. Liz Miranda of Boston said she is introducing legislation that would require local police departments to adopt statutory limits on police use of force, including choke-holds like the one that killed Eric Garner in New York City.

There’s still a long way to go. The union representing the officers who took a knee outside Boston Police headquarters slammed Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins for “slandering officers” by saying blacks are being murdered at will by police and their proxy. She later clarified that her comments were directed not at all officers but at the “rogue few who believe they can kill with impunity.”

SARAH BETANCOURT


BEACON HILL

State revenue continued its massive downward slide in May. (Boston Globe)

A group of parents is suing the state Department of Children and Families for barring them because of coronavirus from in-person visits with their children who are in state foster care. (Boston Globe)

Associated Industries of Massachusetts has more questions for the Baker administration about reopening plans. (Boston Globe)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

WBUR tries to reconstruct the events of Sunday night in Boston, when a peaceful march transformed into violence and looting.

Andover officials are investigating an incident in which a white man allegedly accused a dark-skinned Dominican woman of stealing mail from her own mailbox. (Eagle-Tribune)

An estimated 3,000 peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters marched through Springfield on Wednesday. (MassLive) Thousands rallied on Boston Common to protest police brutality. (Boston Globe)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Massachusetts gets $374 million in federal funding to ramp up COVID-19 testing. (Gloucester Daily Times)

Coronavirus cases are increasing rapidly across the world as the virus takes hold in Latin America, Africa, and other areas not initially hit. (New York Times) Sweden’s top public official, who crafted the country’s light-touch approach to the pandemic, said, in retrospect, he might have advocated more aggressive policies closer to those of other countries. (Washington Post) The Codcast recently explored Sweden’s coronavirus gamble.

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

James Mattis, the former defense secretary who resigned in December 2018, sharply condemns President Trump. “Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us.” (The Atlantic) Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas says send in the nation’s troops to restore order in cities. (New York Times)

Sen. Ed Markey and Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins want to eliminate “qualified immunity,” which shields government officials, including police officers, from being sued for discretionary actions performed on the job. The doctrine has been criticized for protecting police officers accused of brutality. (MassLive)

New unemployment claims have dipped below two million, a sign that job losses might be easing as businesses reopen. (NPR)

ELECTIONS
Pressure is growing on Joe Biden to pick a black woman running mate. (Boston Globe)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The state Division of Marine Fisheries took emergency action Wednesday to close the Cape Cod Canal to commercial striped bass fishing three weeks ahead of the season’s official opening day. (Cape Cod Times)

EDUCATION

The Worcester police union says Clark University officials were “uninformed” when they criticized the police’s response to protests over the death of George Floyd. (Telegram & Gazette)

Most Harvard graduate programs will operate only online this fall. (Boston Globe)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

A federal court vacates a key permit for a controversial natural gas compressor station in Weymouth and asks the state to redo its analysis of the project. (WBUR) The Patriot Ledger has more on the move.

Environmental groups want the state to lift its temporary ban on reusable bags in grocery stores. (Gloucester Daily Times)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

The SJC heard arguments Wednesday about how long is too long to detain someone pre-trial without bail while the courts are closed to many matters due to COVID-19. (The Salem News)

A Globe editorial urges changes to collective bargaining agreements with police to allow for greater accountability for officer misconduct.

A national unemployment fraud scheme, involving identity theft, is affecting many North Shore residents. (The Salem News)

The former deputy athletic director at Northeastern University, who is black, was confronted by six Newton police officers with guns drawn as he walked with his wife a block from their home five days before the George Floyd killing. Police say he fit the description of a murder suspect they were seeking. (Boston Herald)

The man being charged with assaulting an 82-year-old Trump supporter is being held without bail until a dangerousness hearing scheduled for Thursday morning in Fall River District Court. (Herald News)

Three Roman Catholic priests from the Springfield Diocese are removed from their positions amid sexual abuse allegations. (MassLive)

MEDIA

New York Times staff members are speaking out against the paper’s decision to publish an op-ed by Sen. Tom Cotton calling for military troops to restore order in US cities. (Washington Post)