The new civil rights movement

Monica Cannon-Grant organized the largest Boston demonstration to date against police brutality toward blacks, a march that drew tens of thousands of people to Franklin Park earlier this month. Nearly a month after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, protests across the country have continued — Cannon-Grant is leading another march today to the State House — and  the Roxbury community organizer said on The Codcast that she’s convinced a sustained movement has begun.

“I think this is our civil rights movement,” Cannon-Grant said. “What I’ve been telling people is, I think for black people, we’ve been in a war that we just haven’t shown up to out of exhaustion and PTSD and anxiety and just all the things that we experienced. And I think now we’re like enough is enough.”

Rev. Jeffrey Brown, an associate pastor at the Historic Twelfth Baptist Church in Roxbury and a veteran of clergy anti-violence efforts of the 1990s, called it “the monumental moment of our times.” Just as his parents and grandparents faced similar tests, he said, “we’re at a decision right now as to whether or not we’re going to rise to make our world better for our children or leave the world in a worse condition.”

But how to get that better world — and what it would look like — is still something very much in flux in the nascent movement for change.

Brown, founder of the national anti-violence and housing advocacy group My City At Peace,  calls moves like the police certification bill unveiled last week by Gov. Charlie Baker and leaders of the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus “a step,” but said it hardly gets to the crux of the problem.

“They have a certification-decertification process in Minnesota and in Minneapolis, and we see what happened there,” he said. “So my issue is that for every step for improved training that we can put together, there always seems to be police officers who find a way around it and continue to exhibit the behavior that they exhibit. And so when we talk about change, we’re talking about something that goes beyond what I would call Band-Aid steps to try to fix something to calm down the masses. The masses are not going to be calm.”

That said, Brown has collaborated with Boston police over the years and calls it “one of the most progressive police departments that we have in the United States.” He points to a broader broken system that the police operate under, “a progressive police department within a structure that has always brought down African Americans.”

Brown said the current movement has to tackle not only police reforms, but long-standing discriminatory practices in housing and a host of other areas.

Cannon-Grant said she’s given up on looking for reform within police departments.

Like Brown, Cannon-Grant has worked to quell the plague of gang-driven violence in black communities. She said it’s time to recognize that the police “have a culture that they want us to not have, which is a gang culture. They don’t tell on each other. They have a code of silence.”

“I tried it rev’s way in regards to working with the police,” she said of Brown’s approach. “It didn’t work for me. And the reason why it didn’t work is because for a lot of them, there’s a refusal to acknowledge that there’s an issue. They become extremely defensive and they deem it as an attack. And it’s like, no, it’s a fact: black folks were dying at the hands of police officers and we need a change to happen. I have yet for the police department to acknowledge that racism and white supremacy is plaguing that department.”

Cannon-Grant, founder of the nonprofit Violence in Boston, said calls to “defund the police” aren’t turning a blind eye to public safety problems and other issues in black communities. She said money should be shifted from police to organizations that can better address the problems driving violence and other crime.

For all her rabble-rousing ways, Cannon-Grant said she’s “a realist” about the give and take of the political process. She gives Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, with whom she once tangled, credit for the initial moves he’s announced to divert some police overtime funding to service-oriented programs. Her organization already receives some funding from the city.

“There were so many people who told us we wouldn’t get this far,” she said. “I’ve had multiple conversations with Mayor Walsh, and I think it’s a step in the right direction.” She said “pressure bust pipes” and with “everything that’s happening in this country now, I think it’s critical for our community to understand not to stop.” She said efforts to drive change often sputter out after winning a few small concessions. “That just comes from us being people who just get exhausted and tired ‘cause we’ve been fighting this fight for so long,” she said. “I just need us not to give up, continue to apply pressure, continue to fight, continue to hold people accountable.”



Gov. Charlie Baker’s police reform bill includes payments of up to $5,000 a year to officers who take training programs beyond what’s currently required. (Boston Globe)


Mayor Marty Walsh warned that Boston could be facing a “prolonged recession.” (Boston Herald)

Walsh’s office says he advised Police Commissioner William Gross not to meet with Attorney General William Barr last week. (Boston Herald)

A Chicopee teacher loses her job over a racist Facebook post. (MassLive)

Cape officials and experts fear a surge of coronavirus cases amid an influx of summer visitors to the area. (Cape Cod Times)

The 100 highest earners on the City of Worcester’s payroll last year included 90 police officers, and only three women. (MassLive)

Lynnfield holds its town meeting on the high school football field where social distancing was easy. (Daily Item)


Nursing homes struggle as lower-paid workers choose unemployment benefits over pay checks. (WBUR)

Health care providers say PPE shortages in the state have persisted. (Boston Globe)

Father Bill’s and MainSpring is renting out Rodeway Inn in Brockton for 60 homeless people in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19 and maintain social distancing. (The Enterprise)

A man from Acushnet survives coronavirus after being put in a medically-induced coma for over two weeks. (South Coast Today)


President Trump’s team takes stock of the more than half-empty arena that greeted him at his Saturday rally in Tulsa. (New York Times) The Washington Post says his speech there suggests he may revert to a 2016 campaign theme based on racial grievances as he looks to reset a reelection effort that can no longer be based on a roaring economy.

Eight minority corrections officers who work at the jail holding former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was charged with murder in the death of George Floyd, allege that they were barred from guarding or having contact with the officer because of their race. (Associated Press)


The Ed Markey-Joe Kennedy race is now a competition to show who is the most woke on race issues. (Boston Globe)


The New England Patriots are allowing season ticket holders with an elevated risk of COVID-19 to skip the coming season and not lose their seats. (Associated Press)

MassLive has a primer on indoor dining and all the other businesses allowed to reopen today. The MBTA will also increase service levels. (MassLive)

Estate auctions are another thing getting delayed by the coronavirus. (Telegram & Gazette)


Milton educators, community marched for racial justice and education reform, two weeks after sixth grade English teacher Zakia Jarrett was briefly put on leave for mentioning racism among police during class. (Patriot Ledger)


The state is restarting waterfront services like lifeguards and water testing quality at the state’s beaches. (Telegram & Gazette)


The Telegram & Gazette is asking a judge to force the Worcester Police Department to release police disciplinary records, part of an ongoing two-year-old lawsuit. (Telegram & Gazette)


A Boston Herald editorial decries journalists who crusade to get advertisers to drop news outlets or shows they brand racist.


Gerard Doherty of Charlestown, the last operative linked to the campaigns of all three Kennedy brothers, died at age 92. (Boston Globe)