Some 200 to 300 people, most from West Roxbury and Roslindale, gathered around and near the Holy Name Rotary this afternoon for a vigil to remember George Floyd and other murdered black people.
Fearing the worst, the owners of several businesses along Centre Street, as far away as the Corrib Pub at Lagrange Street, had crews come in to board up their windows, just in case. The CVS was both boarded up and shut by 4 p.m., an hour before the vigil was to start. Sullivan's Pharmacy and Green T in Roslindale also put up plywood.
But the worst didn't happen at the vigil, called by Progressive West Roxbury and Roslindale, despite dire warnings by some West Roxbury residents of terrorists descending on their quiet neighborhood and demands that Mayor Walsh either stop the vigil or have the National Guard deployed, especially after people began posting what turned out to be some white-nationalist disinformation in the neighborhood Facebook groups. Instead, people held signs and clapped as one motorist after another pounded their horns in support as they rounded the rotary.
One guy circled the rotary with a Trump/Pence flag, stopping traffic a couple of times when the flag dipped over the roadway. But he didn't stay long, possibly because he was wearing neither belt nor underwear, which meant he only had one hand for the flag, because he had to use the other to keep his pants up.
Police had a heavy presence but kept their distance. Some 30 baton-wielding cops stood along a barrier set up outside both E-5 and the neighboring 7-Eleven, whose supply of plywood came late - workers were still putting it up until the vigil was nearly over.
Several cops stood at the top of the steps to the main entrance of Holy Name; several more patrolled the grounds of the church school across the street - where a Transit Police team hauled a panopticon mobile tower that they briefly extended to test it out. Two K-9 units stood at the ready.
A dozen Quincy cops on motorcycles came through the rotary towards the end of the scheduled vigil, followed not long after by another dozen or so motorcycle cops from Boston and suburbs.
But police mainly stayed well away from the crowd, save for an officer going into the rotary to stop traffic so somebody could cross the street.
The crowds extended along both Centre Street and West Roxbury Parkway:
There was plenty of fresh plywood along Centre Street:
Himalayan Bistro went with cardboard instead of plywood: