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Boston’s top cop pens public letter asking students not to overreact to racial discrimination

Last night, colleges and universities in the Boston area sent an email to their students at the request of Boston Police commissioner William Evans. The BPD top cop's letter asks students who intend to protest in the wake of the Darren Wilson grand jury announcement to do so peacefully. Evans also warns about "outside agitators."

The commissioner's letter basically asks the community not to overreact to what many perceive as persistent, violent racial discrimination in policing. But in the wake of the ACLU's report on the Boston Police Department's stop and frisk procedures, the community received no such letter from the top cop about what he would do to address racial discrimination in his own ranks.

In other words:

Letters from the BPD telling the public not to overreact to racial discrimination in Ferguson: 1

Letters from the BPD telling the public how it will address racial discrimination in its own department: 0

Here's the letter:

A Message to Boston’s College and University Students

As fall comes to a close, I hope that this school year has gotten off to a great start for you, and that your studies are going well.  As you know, Boston is an amazing city to live in and study as a student.

Today, I am writing to ask for your help.  The entire country is anxiously awaiting the grand jury decision in Ferguson over whether or not charges will be brought against a police officer.  Demonstrations are likely across the country.

I ask that if public demonstrations occur as a result of the decision they are done with respect to our neighbors and businesses, responsibly and peacefully.

The Boston Police Department respects the rights of individuals to assemble and advocate for their opinions and causes.  We are asking students to be mindful that there may be outside agitators trying to provoke and instigate otherwise peaceful protests.

Boston has overcome much, and we have a strong history of coming together in times of challenges and crisis, as demonstrated in our community during the Boston Marathon.  We showed then how Boston stayed united and we can show that again with Ferguson and all of the important issues facing us in society today.

Pending the imminent grand jury decision, if you choose to demonstrate please do so in a way that would make your school, your family, and your city proud. Thank you.


William B. Evans
Boston Police Commissioner

© 2021 ACLU of Massachusetts.