Boston College Police officers worked with the Boston Police Department (BPD) yesterday to police demonstrations protesting the killing of George Floyd by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, recorded in a video that circulated around Twitter. It is unclear how many BCPD officers were present at these protests.
According to Twitter posts by the Young Democratic Socialists of Boston College (YDS), the video was taken at a protest in Franklin Park, in Dorchester, roughly 7 miles away from BC’s campus. According to the posts, BCPD officers, “were on bikes and came in to stop protestors from preventing a cop car from moving.” BCPD Chief William Evans described their role as, “assisting with traffic.”
Under Chapter 22C, Section 63, of the Massachusetts General Laws, BCPD officers, “have the same power to make arrests as regular police officers;” additionally, according to the BCPD FAQ page, “each officer is also a Deputy Sheriff within Suffolk and Middlesex Counties,” so as to, “enable them to legally respond beyond the strict confines of the campus.” However, many may ask why BCPD personnel were present at these off-campus protests in Dorchester, as the same FAQ page states, “you will not see the BC Police patrolling city streets.”
In a statement, Chief Evans defended the presence of BCPD, writing: “BCPD has always helped residents of the City of Boston and its police along with other universities’ police departments with Super Bowl parades and major events in the city to keep the city safe for residents. We rely on each other everyday if something bad should happen. This is a public safety issue.”
Evans added, “This is by no means political; it is all about protecting the residents and no one getting hurt.” According to Evans, the presence of BCPD at such an event was not out of the ordinary, and the BPD, “[asks] us with every major city event,” along with other campus police departments.
Evans, who served as Boston police commissioner from 2013-2018, has previously been criticized by YDS, who have called for his removal on account of his relationship with ICE during his time as commissioner of the BPD.
In 2014, Evans signed a “Memorandum of Understanding” with ICE officials, establishing “close cooperation and coordination” between the two agencies. After this agreement, the department communicated with immigration officials through a designated “Task Force Officer” despite Boston’s status as a sanctuary city, according to a report by WBUR.
The footage of BCPD at the protest comes on the same day that University president Fr. Leahy S.J. issued a statement condemning, “the racial prejudice and profound injustice leading to this latest shocking loss of a black person’s life in our country.”
However, while Fr. Leahy’s statement asserted that, “we are called to challenge such behavior when manifested not only in our community but also in our nation and world,” he has notoriously remained silent when racist incidents have plagued BC’s campus. Notably, after a vile display of anti-Black vandalism on campus in 2018, Fr. Leahy delegated the response to Vice President Joy Moore, and remained silent on the issue.
Fr. Leahy’s habit of silence has become readily apparent to students. On the Answer Wall at O’Neil Library, a student once asked: “If silence is complicity when dealing with racial issues, does that make Fr. Leahy complicit in racism?” While defending Fr. Leahy, the response from the library team acknowledged that “Fr. Leahy usually asks other BC administrators [to] speak on issues such as racism,” rather than speaking out and addressing the BC community himself.
At a time when many BC students are out protesting against systemic racism in police departments across the nation, the presence of BCPD personnel stationed at such a protest may dishearten student activists, and send the wrong message to the BC community.