May 31. Downtown Boston. 1920hrs. Summer has only just begun, and it’s cool out tonight, but it seems we’ve been roasting in the heat of an oppressive sun for a long time. As the dusk gathers, about two thousand five hundred mostly young people gather outside State House, the seat of the State Government. Some have marched from Nubian Square, 15 minutes away. They chant, “No justice! No peace!” and then switch to “Black! Lives! Matter!”

Somewhere in the crowd, someone screams “F*ck the police!” A number of people echo these words. The anger here is palpable. Young Bostonians are expressing their shock and dismay at the killing of George Floyd, an African American man, who died at the hands of a white police officer in Minnesota on May 25. In hundreds of cities and towns across the US, the same thing is happening.

It’s not the anger that’s surprising. It’s the numbers of people that are coming out to express it.

Somewhere at the front of the crowd, just outside the State House gates, one of the protestors is screaming his words of horror at the state of policing and the system that supports it. I can’t hear everything he is saying. The megaphone is not loud enough for this crowd – even if they were to go silent. 

At some point, just before 8pm, it seems as if the crowd is dispersing. Some head off in different directions. But no, another march begins, down Tremont Street. 

A few arguments begin as protestors come face to face with the police. Teargas pops. Some protestors scurry. Someone picks up a teargas canister off the ground and flings it back to the police. A cheer erupts. It’s time to go home.