Suffolk buildings damaged after violence breaks out in Boston

A+Boston+Police+cruiser+was+set+ablaze+across+the+street+from+73+Tremont%2C+Suffolk+University%27s+administration+building+that+also+contains+classrooms+and+the+undergraduate+library.+Before+violence+broke+out+in+the+city%2C+crowd%27s+were+protesting+the+death+of+George+Floyd%2C+a+black+man+who+was+killed+in+Minneapolis+when+a+police+officer+kneeled+on+his+neck+for+about+nine+minutes.+

Photo courtesy of Lauren Francis

A Boston Police cruiser was set ablaze across the street from 73 Tremont, Suffolk University's administration building that also contains classrooms and the undergraduate library. Before violence broke out in the city, crowd's were protesting the death of George Floyd, a black man who was killed in Minneapolis when a police officer kneeled on his neck for about nine minutes.

Choas broke out in Boston Sunday night after a peaceful protest denouncing police brutality and systemic racism in American began to disperse.

Several thousand people took to the streets of Boston to protest the killing of George Floyd, a black man who died after a police officer kneeled on his neck for about nine minutes in Minneapolis on May 25.

Protesters entered Boston to take part in peaceful demonstrations and marches, with the largest one starting in Roxbury and ending at the Massachusetts State House. 

“I actually felt at peace and safe the entire time until night time,” said Adam Healy, who was at the protest Sunday. “There was a strong sense of community and unity along with a strong urge for peacefulness and non-violent means of protests.”

Peaceful protesters gathered in front of the Massachusetts State House Sunday evening. As the protest dispersed, witnesses say police moved into the area and made it harder for them to leave. Around that time, some people began looting stores and throwing items at police downtown. (Jeanette Marasi)

Andrew Navaroli, who graduated from Suffolk in 2019, arrived downtown with two current Suffolk students to take part in peaceful protests Sunday evening. Navaroli said it was a “beautiful, peaceful night” until protesters started to leave the area around 9 p.m.

“When people started to leave, the energy changed when [Boston Police] closed in on all sides of the Common,” Navaroli said. 

He said officers moved in from side streets in Downtown Crossing and parking garages to form a perimeter around the protesters. MBTA stations in the area were closed, leaving many demonstrators stuck after the protest ended, Navaroli said. 

“My group got out just when tear gas started being sent back and forth and a mob of people ran away scared down Tremont past Suffolk,” Navaroli said. “It wasn’t until we got home and checked Twitter that we saw everything that was going on.”  

Suffolk Class of 2021 member Jeanette Marasi said she left just before violence broke out. 

“When I got to the front of Sargent Hall, everyone started running and we heard noises everywhere,” Marasi said. “My friends and I decided to run too and we fast walked back home to city hall because we live in the North end. We got home safely but we’ve been watching the news.” 

Around the same time some protesters started leaving the Common, people nearby began smashing through the glass of the storefronts like The Corner Mall shops and Footpaths in Downtown Crossing. 

Police and those involved in the violence clashed in several areas downtown. Some threw bricks, rocks, glass bottles and frozen water bottles at police. Others also set off flares and fireworks. 

Police employed the use of flash-bangs, pepper balls and rubber bullets at crowds in Dowtown Crossing and on Tremont Street, where an SUV hit several people near Emerson College at one point. 

Across from Suffolk’s 73 Tremont building, a Boston Police cruiser was lit on fire in front of Beantown Pub. Graffiti was painted on the windows of Suffolk ’s Smith Hall and on the side of Sargent Hall. 

One of the Suffolk University Bookstore windows was smashed, as was a window in Smith’s dining hall and at the front of Sal’s Pizza next door.

Capt. James Connolly of the Suffolk University Police Department (SUPD) said graffiti was spray painted on the walls of 73 Tremont, Smith Hall, Sargent Hall, and the Back Deck restaurant, which is in the first floor of the 10 West dorm building. 

Connolly said police caught one person trying to steal drawstring backpacks from the bookstore Monday morning. 

Firefighters douse a Boston Police cruiser that was set on fire after violence broke out in Boston Sunday night. (Emmanuel Boakye Appiah)

SUPD officers and security guards stayed inside campus buildings during the entire ordeal, Connolly said. 

“Twenty-one students are still living on campus, so our focus was protecting them,” Connolly said. 

No SUPD cruisers were damaged. 

According to the Massachusetts State Police, a perimeter was formed around the State House after people gathered on Beacon Street and violence had broken out in the city. 

One man climbed over the front fence to the State House around 9:30 p.m. and was instantly apprehended by Boston police.

Police urged those in the city to go home during the ordeal. 

“The time for protesting is over. The peaceful protest ended hours ago. Individuals now congregating in the area of Boston Common and Downtown Crossing need to vacate the area and go home,” tweeted the Boston Police Department Sunday night. 

Around 11:19 p.m. the National Guard entered downtown Boston, along with a police presence of the BPD and a Public Order Platoon, made up of “troopers specially trained in protest and crowd control — to assist BPD operations in the downtown area,” according to State Police.

As the night continued, the action progressed onto Boylston and Newbury Streets. People could be seen breaking into stores in the area and retrieving boxes and clothing through broken glass windows.

“The individuals whose violent actions, looting and property destruction was criminal and cowardly – and distracted from the powerful statement made today by thousands of Massachusetts residents,” tweeted Governor Charlie Baker.

Shortly after midnight, additional State Police were deployed to assist Boston Police, as well as local police from the Northeast Metropolitan Law Enforcement Council.

According to Procopio in an email sent at 12:25 a.m., State Police made a second arrest in the vicinity of the State House as a second protester attempted to jump the fence.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said at a press conference Monday that the night’s riot “was an attack on our city and its people.”

The windows of a business near the old Boston City Hall on School Street were damaged, just around the corner from Suffolk University, Sunday night. (Emmanuel Boakye Appiah)

“Let’s keep our city safe. This is your city. This is our city. This is a city where we respect all of our neighbors,” Walsh said. 

By the end of the night, about 53 people were arrested, Boston Police said in a statement. 

Walsh said nine officers were taken to the hospital and dozens more were treated for minor injuries. Eighteen people were also taken to the hospital with injuries sustained in the chaos, he said. 

Some protesters continued to hold signs condemning police brutality and George Floyd’s death throughout the night. 

Suffolk University President Marisa Kelly condemned Floyd’s death in an email sent to the Suffolk community Saturday. 

“This inhumane act runs counter to everything that we believe in as a University, and we stand with members of the Black community–at Suffolk and across the nation–who are feeling unfathomable pain and trauma because of this and other acts of oppression and violence,” Kelly said.