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Dueling rallies compete for dominance at Holy Name Rotary in West Roxbury

BLM and pro-cop protesters in West Roxbury

For awhile, these two competed to get their signs in front of motorists.

Police supporters rallied outside the E-5 police station in West Roxbury this afternoon, but they may have been outnumbered by Black Lives Matter protesters.

Police supporters
Sign: Not all cops are bad
BLM organizer
BLM supporters

Unlike the Black Lives Matter protesters, almost all of whom wore masks - as they have at three previous vigils at the rotary - a significant number of the Blue Lives Matter rally attendees threw caution and public-health recommendations to the wind and went bare-faced:

Blue family
Police supporters
Two women support police
Trump supporter
Police supporter
Police supporters

For the most part, the two rallies stayed apart.

But one small group of pro-police people decided to stick their black-and-blue flag in the BLM protesters' faces:

Guy gets blue flag in protesters' faces

There was no violence, thanks in part to quick work by Black Lives Matter organizers and, in one case, police, to break up fights before they could happen.

In one case, a black man driving slowly through the rotary suddenly stopped his car, got out and started to lunge at a pro-cop white man with a sign on the large island in the middle of the rotary; he said the guy had spit at him.

People rushed over, as did police, who convinced him to get in back in his car and keep going.

Guy out of his car

Pro-cop guy, though, said something a cop didn't like, enough to make her lead him away from the scene.

Guy he claimed spit at him

She escorted him closer to the police station and, as BLM supporters cheered and pro-cop supporters chanted "let him go," she put him behind a phalanx of cops and he had stand awhile to think about what he'd done, before they let him go. He mostly stood there with his sign held high.

Pig guy

As the police were enforcing his time out, a guy in a pig outfit waddled by.

Time out

Later, as the demonstrations were ending, he waddled in front of the police station, where one of the un-masked police supporters got right in his face and screamed "Asshole!" at him, from maybe a couple inches away.

Shortly before the time-out incident, pro-cop supporters on the island grew incensed when a black man wearing a pig-snout mask began stomping and dragging one of their black-and-blue flags.

One BLM leader tried to get him to walk away, as other BLM supporters tried to form a cordon around him. He refused to go, but both sides calmed down and the man and a couple of the white police supporters eventually had loud but civil discussions about the nature of protest and whether or not the blue-and-black is an American flag.

BLM supporters talk
Black and white guys talk

A guy in a pickup with an American flag and his true feelings on a board in the bed kept driving around the rotary, leaning over towards the BLM protesters and yelling profound wisdom at them, such as "scumbags!"

Supporter in a pickup

At one point, he suddenly slowed way down; fortunately for him, the driver of the actual truck behind him had good reflexes.

Towards the end, he was joined by a second pickup:

Police supporting kid

There were two black Trump supporters at the rally, a woman dressed in red, white and blue and a guy with a bullhorn who seemed to fancy himself a standup comic as he addressed the BLM supporters across the rotary.

Black guy

At one point, they kneeled in memory of George Floyd and he bellowed: "Thank you for bowing down to your president, Donald Trump!"

BLM kneeling /></div>
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Comments

Looks like the pig costume guy was not wearing a mask.

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He was not.

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He was trying to start something which contradicts your prior statement about BLM being the reason there was no violence.

I’d like to think it’s because there were, wait for it. Cops there.

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Cops had absolutely nothing to do with separating the parties there.

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I will never not see the Thin Blue Line flag as White Pride flag cloaked in the disingenuous plausible denial “it’s only to honor our police”.

I wouldn’t say that every person who flies that flag believes it, but they should admit that there is a part of them that likes the flag because it is anti-Black Lives Matter and they don’t have to publicly acknowledge such.

(I do not condone the pig mask guy snatching it and stomping it.)

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as it was originally intended.

IMAGE(https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Djjm6ZqUYAAeTUL?format=jpg&name=medium)

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But at some point Black Lives Matter has become something closer to a political Organization with a very specific set of views and objectives.
No one would argue if you disagree with the Democrats it means you’re not in favor of democracy. Or if you disagree with Republicans then you are against the United States being a republic.

At what point does disagreeing with Black Lives Matter become disagreeing with the viewpoint of a political organization versus a very obvious statement that hopefully everyone of the world agrees with.

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Voting closed 29

Even if both parties agreed 100% on the solution, it's still politics / political. Nonsense calls to stop being political, are themselves a political statement.

Nothing is keeping everybody from finding a solution, besides the tribal cult that's used white identity politics to remain in power well past their policies use by date.

The Southern Strategy / Goldwater plan is still going strong, and it's driving a minority of the population nuts and into a fury. And it ain't the black community.

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didn’t know he frequented these message boards

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Critical thinking is hard.

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Don’t pretend that emancipation, the Civil Rights movement of the 50s & 60s, marriage equality, and the recent employment equality ruling by SCOTUS can in any way be decoupled from politics. Those advances did not occur in a vacuum. They weren’t wished into existence. They weren’t given by some spontaneous benevolent legislation.

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encountered a Thin Blue Line flag or any of its many one-added-color variants. I find it a little creepy, myself, that stark black-and-white. Gave me a shiver of the desaturated colors of the movie Children of Men.

Without imputing any motives to its fliers -- just because some white supremacists like it doesn't mean you can't fly it out of support for police who died in the line of duty -- it does strike me as a dubious choice for personal expression of conservative political ideas in America, an obvious violation of the flag code such people otherwise revere. Maybe that ship sailed with the advent of American-flag hot pants, beer coolers, and adult onesies.

(I know about the use of different-colored American flags on camouflage US military uniforms, but that has a practical purpose: it's not a political or fashion statement.)

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I do not condone the pig mask guy snatching it and stomping it.

These "I do not condone " comments are also disingenuous. It's how both Walsh and the director of BLM both described the rioting/looting that occurred amidst protests. They stopped short of condemning the behavior and settled for "not condoning" the behavior. Politically, it's understandable to say it that way in such a polarized, partisan atmosphere, but it's still noticeable.

I think if you're going to half-hardheartedly disavow bad behavior, it's probably better to just skip mentioning it.

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as well as dragging that 'wink & nod' fascist symbol around like they're heroes.

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is why I shouldn't comment before coffee.

(ahem) Let me try again;

1.) The pig guys cool

2.) The fascist Blue Line flags are a virtue signal you can see from space.

3.) A whole lot of people really need to watch Serpico.

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I reject and disapprove of snatching the TBL flag and stomping on it. Don’t rip people’s personal property from their hands and then destroy it, folks.

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I can't tell if "their black and blue flag" was a reference to a flag that was brought by and belonged to the pro-cop group, or merely a way of describing the flag design, the flag having been brought by anyone.

If the former, then yeah, don't steal people's stuff. If the latter, and brought by the pig dude, that's just great trolling.

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If they’d just stop murdering black men we wouldn’t need to do this. Simple. Good cops should be just as outraged as BLM. We should all be standing together.

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First off, it's clearly a defaced American flag, so thus not patriotic or supportive of the federal government. Likewise flags flown from the beds of pickup truck or worn on clothing irk me because they are disrespectful and violations of the US Flag Code.

Second, it seems like the meaning of the "thin blue line" has changed over time. At first - maybe around the 20s, it was meant to suggest that police were the "thin blue line" separating order from chaos, or the public from anarchy. It seems to have evolved (as have many police departments) from a statement of the police role of protecting the public to a statement of the police role protecting the police. Why is it so ubiquitous on bumper stickers? The drivers aren't making some sort of statement about the moral role of policing, they're claiming membership in a fraternity. The line has turned around into a circle surrounding the police.

In this way, it has also come to symbolize something called "the blue wall of silence," an informal rule among police officers not to report crimes committed by other police officers. It's hard to see that sticker or flag and not see the reference. The thin blue line became a thin blue circle, became a thick blue wall. Interpreted in that sense, police displaying the thin blue line symbol are also manifesting a promise to respect the blue wall of silence. That makes the symbol not a promise of public safety but a display of gang colors.

It's possible - indeed likely - that some people using the symbol don't see it this way. I expect they, for example the people at the demonstration, are principally the family members of police officers. But many people who are on the outside of that blue circle or blue wall do see it that way: the blue line flag is less a promise than a threat. It says, to the people on the outside, "we can abuse you and get away with it because we will all lie for each other."

Any police officer who takes his role (to serve and protect) seriously should think twice before applying that defaced, degraded flag to his bumper sticker.

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Why is it so ubiquitous on bumper stickers?

If you're talking about the black rectangle with a fat horizontal blue stripe, that's something that cops put on their cars and their families' cars, as a signal to other cops. It means that the car's driver is a member of the cop subculture. Helps them get away with bad behavior in traffic and avoid being stopped. Also a warning to the rest of us, of course.

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“Cop subculture” is a nice way of saying “organized gang”.

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Add one of those "Punisher" skulls. Oh, look, the pickup with the kid in the back has a knockoff version stuck on the side window.

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If the goal is to make me feel sympathetic towards the police, that flag has the opposite effect on me. I guess they are more interested in calling out to their existing supporters than reaching out to the community at large?

I drove through the intersection twice during the protest. The vast majority of BLM and anti-police protesters were wearing masks (the pig guy was a notable exception), but only about 2/3 to 1/2 of the police supporters were wearing masks and many of the police themselves were not wearing masks while standing in close groups talking to each other.

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Thanks for this excellent coverage. As far as I can tell, this event was not reported elsewhere. Nice to see that the crowd was peaceful and that organizers stepped in to avoid escalation.

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Is the actual American Flag no longer good enough for them? Also, hats off to the BPD wives and family members for the good showing today.

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Cops think they are better than Americans, apparently. They look down on the people who pay their bloated salaries. Unfortunately conservatives are happy to lick their boots.

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but ignore the "well regulated" part.

The blue line is a flag violation in and of itself

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I Know When I Want To Show My Patriotism… I drain the colors from an American Flag, and then make it so it's alternating blue and black instead of red and white! What better way to show you love this country than by LITERALLY REMOVING THE COLOR the flag?

Like, OK dude – we get it. You LITERALLY "DON'T SEE COLOR." That's a problem.

It's also a problem that you think "blue lives" are a thing. Nepotism aside, no one is BORN a police officer. It's a damn job. And if the only way to do that job is to brutalize the relatively powerless, you are free (and encouraged!) to find a different job!

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Far from it.

But we don't see night clerks and tree trimmers throwing tantrums over how little they are appreciated.

Firefighters just do their far more dangerous job while using their unions to help get support for their loved ones in case they die, and to get things that reduce some of their risks.

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More cops than firefighters are killed each year, and I would dispute that firefighter unions' primary goal is getting "support for their loved ones in case they die". Families of fallen firefighters already get a lot of financial support - I wouldn't be surprised if financial support exceeds the firefighter's base salary (post tax). Even the children of fallen firefighters are fiscally set for life with guaranteed positions as firefighters. That benefit doesn't even apply to cops because police departments actually have to recruit to fill positions. Firefighting doesn't need recruitment. It's such a desirable job, that there's an bottomless waiting list of applicants. Also consider how the Boston firefighter union demanded higher salary in exchange for drug testing. Drug testing would increase safety and lower risk on the job, and yet the union fought it. Not saying that cops have a super-dangerous job, just that it's obscene to judge it against firefighters, especially in Boston.

I think if any branch deserves more appreciation, it's EMS. They have a rougher job with both less prestige and lower pay than either cops or firefighters do.

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For the great photos and narrative.

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I especially like: "...both sides calmed down and the man and a couple of the white police supporters eventually had a loud but civil discussions about the nature of protest and whether or not the blue-and-black is an American flag."

We need more people willing and able to have that kind of discourse.

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I've been listening to the police scanner for zone 6 in Atlanta Georgia. All I hear is static, the police seemed to have walked off the Job.
I hope you are all happy.
I have had in the past had a problem with police corruption. But I know from experience that the savages of society will rule without the police.
I would rather be in a position to call the police than resorting to my 2nd amendment rights, or a baseball bat.

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"Defund the Police" does not mean "Abolish the Police: Welcome Anarchy!" I suspect that many police would welcome its actual objectives, which include consigning many roles for which the police are unqualified and/or likely do not enjoy (traffic-law enforcement, patching the holes in the social safety net for people suffering from mental illness, addiction, homelessness, etc.), intervening in drunken family disputes, etc., to other city services.

It's a blunt instrument designed to wake people up to the desperate need for reforms around excessive use of force that fall disproportionately and too often lethally on people of color. The goal is just and long overdue, but think the positioning is ineffectual: it plays too easily into the hands of unscrupulous GOP politicians (sorry for the redundancy there) who would cast it as, "Liberals love riots and looting: they will dance in the streets as the crazy coloreds burn down your comfy suburban homes!"

I'd go with something like "Make police peace officers again", or "Demilitarize the police". A friend suggests, "Re-imagine public saftey." I adamantly support the need for serious reform, but I don't think that particular slogan helps the cause. The people that need to be convinced will never grasp the nuance behind it.

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The Globe interviewed a few BLM protesters who literally want to abolish both the police and all prisons.

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There are a few people in this area who think they should be able to wear giant automatic codpieces and shoot anyone they think is scary.

Meaning: nothing.

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Aim high and you just might get some of what you ask for I guess.

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You can't listen to a police scanner so that must mean Atlanta has fallen? Paranoid much?

Take a deep breath and listen, Sean.

THEYRE OFF THE REGULAR CHANNELS.

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Sean has a little too much tinfoil in his bunker, if you know what I mean.

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savages of society

Way to tell on yourself.

I would rather be in a position to call the police than resorting to my 2nd amendment rights, or a baseball bat.

And I would rather be in a position where simplistic false dichotomies were laughed out of public discourse.

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Yes, because an armed street gang paid by the community and completely immune to consequences beating people up while handcuffed and shooting anybody that they don't like is the acme of civilization.

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No idea about Atlanta, but if being a cop is worth $300k/yr like some BPD officers are making, they'll have no problem filling empty slots.

Make it hard to become and officer and easy to loose the job. People will take it more seriously.

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So the pay obviously doesn't matter bdog.

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Too bad I'm not a Boston resident or I'd apply. Looking for a change of pace anyway. And the money would be nice.

It would be fun to prove that you could be a good cop, follow procedures, and not profile/abuse people. (To be fair, I do think a majority of cops are good people but the unwillingness to speak up about the bad ones makes it hard to put much faith in the force.)

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Unless you live in a real small town.

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We need the best, not just someone looking “for a change of pace”. It should be almost impossible to get a badge and become a police officer. But we aren’t getting the best.

You’ll see dead bodies, domestic violence, severe drug addiction and more gang violence than you ever knew existed. Is that the change of pace you’re looking for?

And yes, to attract the best, the pay should be commensurate with the job that’s being asked. And the departments should be able to fire problematic and rogue officers with no union interference.

I have been an officer for almost two decades now, and it is way past time to professionalize this outfit.

- a Boston Cop

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I routinely see large groups from the Academy doing their PT run on Truman.

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They’ve had to cut some classes because of the quality of the application pool. Doesn’t really have an affect on manpower yet, but the next few years might be tough.

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GED and 5 months training just don’t cut it.

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Because the cops are using discord or e-mail to communicate. Protesters are using scanners to track their activities.

You might want to investigate more and assume less.

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If police officers are only willing to work as long as they don't get criticized, then they shouldn't be working. If you support the police, you should be glad that they're walking off the job to hopefully be replaced by people who are able to tolerate public criticism (and hopefully also replaced by people who don't think its necessary to shoot unarmed people in the back, while we're at it).

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There is nothing civil at all about saying Black people don't have the right to exist safely in public.

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Isn't it a civil infraction to be out in public without a face covering when you cannot maintain six feet of distance from others? Seems odd to be flaunting lawlessness during a "support the police" rally.

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Seems odd to be flaunting lawlessness during a "support the police" rally.

Only if you think the rally is in support of enforcement of laws. It isn't. It's about supporting the police. The barefaced people aren't interested in laws, at least not ones that they find inconvenient.

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What's up with the pink pig cartoon?

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Thank you for this very fair reporting, I wish all news stations would follow this lead. It is possible to cover the overall mood of a protest/event while still pointing out the individuals who are not doing right.

I honestly never understood the thin blue line flag. When I first saw it, without having any idea of what it meant or what different people thought of it my first instinct was to bristle. Clear violation of flag code, the de-saturation gives me an uneasy feeling, it just is too much. Then I find out what it is and it gets trotted out when talking about people kneeling for the American flag and when talking about unity and it makes me do a double take. How can you say respect the flag and then wave this flag? How can you proclaim unity and then display a flag that so fully highlights just one segment of the population... it is not an American flag, it is a design, so if someone steals it and stomps on it don' get all mad and accuse them of stomping on the American flag because that is not the American flag.

In regards to Facemasks, everyone who knows me knows I am still 100 percent skittish of even seeing large demonstrations but have had to talk myself down on the topic. My anxiety goes right back up when I see so many unmasked faces and people crammed in though. Maybe it is just me, my city actually is seeing a rise in our seven day average which is driving me nuts, but you lose major points by not wearing a mask here. In all the images I have seen the BLM side always has near universal mask coverage, where as the other side, ehhhhh.

Lastly , the pig motifs. Not needed, not helpful. Needlessly antagonistic with no benefit in the dialogue. It doesn't help that he comes off as a white suburban guy looking to get as much attention as he can and making it about him. Also his not wearing a mask just confirms what I thought of him. He is a selfish attention starved person not interested in making things better and he should take a seat. I see plenty of leaders in these images on the BLM side , they don't need him doing his pig routine.

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It's clear from the numerous vigils in Roslindale and West Roxbury recently that peaceful gatherings can happen. Yes, there we will always be a few people who want to challenge others (that loud right-wing lady who showed up (not from West Roxbury BTW) and that guy in the pig outfit), but what we have been seeing in our neighborhoods has been peaceful. And that should be a key takeaway. Something happened yesterday in West Roxbury that I haven't seen anywhere else in this city. Two groups of people (some with differing opinions) and the result was peaceful. The reality is that A LOT of people who support the police also know that Black Lives Matter. It does not have to be "one or the other" and we saw that yesterday.

People SHOULD protest, and hold vigils, and rallies for support. And as fellow Bostonians, we should all support each other's right to do so.

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I just wanted to reach out to clarify something in your article.

The Black man who stepped out of his car had been spit on by the white man as he drove by slowly. Police saw and did not intervene until he came out of the car. BLM protestors intervened to make sure he was able to drive away safely, but the cops had to remove the white man from the area as he assaulted a by stander. No charges were filed.

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Are the black and blue used in those flags a reference to the 40% of police who commit domestic violence?

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Who must deal with these monsters after their shift.

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I’ve seen that 1988 study and would love to see a real one done in 2020. I hear that and laugh. Definitely thank people like you who allow me to collect a huge salary though!

Thanks Zach!!!

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The studies were done in 1991 and 1992, but I'd like to see an update too. I'm sure things have gotten much better. I mean it's not like police are known for having a proclivity for violence or anything, right?

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You don’t know any.

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I've got multiple cops in my family. Try again.

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Not sure how you feel about your family or what they did to you. I can’t help you there. Are they Boston cops?

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I looked quickly on my phone, but this study has 90 responses (from 250 polled) from a central Florida group of police departments. 12% of the male officers engaged in physical DV and 13% of the female officers. Those numbers make more sense I guess? But still, it seems strange for any police officer to self report violence, even if the surveys are anonymous.

Divorce rate would be interesting to look at as well. I bet those numbers might tell you more.

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