Look who showed up on Tremont Street in Roxbury today. The Justice Department posted this photo of Attorney General William Barr and BPD Commissioner William Gross, both grinning, which you can easily tell because neither is wearing a mask, which Gross, at least, had been so good at doing up until now, unlike Barr, who won't don a mask even if might mean getting a whiff of the tear gas he's just ordered police to fire at peaceful protesters.
In its tweet, the Justice Department claimed this was the first time a sitting US Attorney General had ever visited BPD headquarters, which is, at best, a mistake. In fact, Janet Reno, then Bill Clinton's attorney general, visited BPD headquarters on Jan. 3, 2001, where, according to the next day's Globe, she discussed programs to help people being released from prison find jobs. Here's the agenda for her visit, from the Justice Department's own archives.
Several hours after the meeting, Gross issued a statement:
As Police Commissioner, I often have to put my personal feelings aside. The top law enforcement official in the country requested a meeting with the Boston Police Department and I would rather take the opportunity to educate someone on what we are doing in Boston on how we value and work with the community, and how we support our officers in this work, than close a door. A meeting does not mean I agree with his policies in any way, but I hope he walked away knowing a little more about ours.
Mayor Walsh chimed in:
In Boston, we believe in justice and equity, and protecting everyone in our community. I am working every day to combat the injustice and systemic racism that is at the root of so many of our challenges.
Attorney General Barr and the Trump Administration do not share Boston’s values or my values. His actions and general lack of respect for people and their rights are a danger to our city and the future of our country.
Several city councilors, though, were having none of it.
Councilor Andrea Campbell (Dorchester) took a look at the photo and wrote:
Defund whatever the hell this is.
City Councilor Michelle Wu (at large) wrote she is outraged that Gross would pose for a photo with Barr:
Racism Is A Public Health Crisis...aka don’t welcome the person who dismisses systemic racism & creates/enforces racist policies through abuses of power!!! This is a disgrace to our city & a breach of trust to our communities.
Councilor Ricardo Arroyo (Hyde Park, Mattapan, Roslindale) wrote:
Yeah, that's gonna be a no from me.
Councilor Julia Mejia (at large) wrote she's not going to be intimidated by a bully like Barr:
Growing up, I lived in fear with my undocumented mother. Barr’s presence in Boston is alarming & traumatizing but we can’t allow it to hinder or intimidate us. Now as the chair of the Civil Rights Committee, I can use my voice to ensure that #AllMeansAll feel safe in Boston.
State Attorney General Maura Healey checked in as well:
We are in court against Bill Barr constantly, and I can tell you this man does not care about justice or the people of Boston.
US Rep Ayanna Pressley issued a challenge:
So AG Barr let’s skip the pleasantries. Next time you set foot in my district I demand a face to face meeting where you look me in the eye and explain why you tear gassed peaceful protestors. Understood?
I will have counsel present.