BOSTON (WPRI) — What started as a peaceful protest in Boston Sunday afternoon turned violent as the sun went down.
Thousands marched peacefully through the streets of Boston, culminating with a rally at the State House, where they demanded justice over the death of George Floyd, who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers last week.
Later in the day, a police cruiser was set on fire near Downtown Crossing and stores along Boylston and Newbury Streets in the city’s Back Bay neighborhood were targeted by looters. Windows and doors were smashed and merchandise was stolen.
Massachusetts State Police and the National Guard were in the city to back up the Boston officers, mainly in the area of Boylston, Newbury and Arlington Streets.
The Boston Police Department confirmed Monday that nine officers were injured and transported to area hospitals, and many more were treated on scene. Police said 21 cruisers were damaged and 53 individuals were arrested on a variety of charges, including larceny, breaking and entering and malicious destruction of property.
Of those arrests, a 20-year-old East Providence man will be summonsed for larceny under $1,200 and receiving stolen property.
Massachusetts State Police also confirmed two of the arrests were protestors who jumped the fence outside the State House and tried to get onto State House property.
On Twitter, Gov. Charlie Baker thanked the peaceful protesters for their positive message.
“The murder of George Floyd at the hands of police was a horrible tragedy – one of countless tragedies to befall people of color across the United States,” he wrote. “The vast majority of protesters today did so peacefully, toward a common goal of promoting justice and equality. I am deeply thankful for their voices and their positive, forceful message.”
Baker also thanked police for protecting Boston from violent individuals, whose actions he described as “criminal and cowardly.”
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh also took to Twitter Sunday night expressing his thanks for those at the protest who exercised their right to free speech effectively and peacefully. He also expressed his disappointment for those who did not remain peaceful.
“I see you. I hear you. I will use my voice for you,” he wrote. “I am angered, however, by the people who came into our city and chose to engage in acts of destruction and violence, undermining their message. If we are to achieve change and if we are to lead the change, our efforts must be rooted in peace and regard for our community.”