Grafton police show solidarity at peaceful black lives matter protest

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By Dakota Antelman, Contributing Writer

Protest organizers raise their firsts as they address fellow protesters.

Grafton – Roughly 100 locals protested police brutality in Grafton, June 4, speaking and protesting in the shadow of the town police station and eventually eliciting displays of solidarity from that department itself.

Taking place at Grafton High School, the event was the brainchild of local young people who mobilized a large following of local friends as well as out of town advocates eager for the chance to join the ever growing national protest movement that has sprouted in recent weeks.

“We come from a really small town that is predominantly white, but that does not mean that we’re not going to come out here to support all our black brothers and sisters,” said organizer Molly Dewar. “We’re here to lift their voices and amplify their voices to move this movement until we get justice.”

Initially watching from just outside his department’s headquarters roughly a block down the road, Grafton Police Chief Normand Crepeau ultimately supported protesters in spirit and practice, lending them a megaphone and later joining in a moment of silence by taking a knee and bowing his head.

The day was not without backlash, however.

Plans shared widely on social media sparked a fierce back and forth in a community Facebook group the night before June 4, culminating in one woman saying she was “locked and loaded” in anticipation of the protest.

Police confirmed they were aware of the threat but said they did not deem it credible.

Dewar, meanwhile, said she and other demonstrators were committed to not letting such controversy change the narrative of their day.

“There’s always going to be people out there who don’t support, who have a different outlook,” she said. “We just have to ignore them right now…if we focus all our energy on them we’re overshadowing the true message of black lives matter.”

Demonstrations have sprung up across the region recently as part of the national movement sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police on Memorial Day.

Large events in Massachusetts communities like Boston, Brockton and Worcester have turned violent, at times, while smaller counterparts across our coverage area have remained peaceful.

Reflecting on all that, Dewar said she’s committed to continuing the protest movement but adds that this is just the start.

“It does not stop here,” she said, encouraging donations, increased civic engagement and more. “This is the bare minimum of what we need to do.”

(Photos by/Dakota Antelman)

Two protesters tape large signs onto the side of their car before the start of a June 4 Black Lives Matter protest.
Grafton High School stands behind a line of protesters many of whom are either current students or recent GHS graduates.
A crowd assembles for the beginning of a Black Lives Matter protest in Grafton. As the evening drew on, the number of protesters would swell past 100.
The Grafton Police sign stands just a few feet down the road from where protesters gathered for their Black Lives Matter protest against police brutality June 4.
Protesters stand along the sidewalk outside Grafton High School during their protest.
Protest organizers mount a car and raise their fists in solidarity as they shout the names of black men and women killed by police near the end of their protest.
Protest organizer Molly Dewar reads names of black men and women killed by police off a sign.
Protest organizer Molly Dewar raises her fist as she addresses fellow protesters before her.
Grafton Police Chief Normand Crepeau kneels in solidarity with protesters during a moment of silence to honor black men and women killed by police.
Grafton Police Chief Normand Crepeau kneels in solidarity with protesters during a moment of silence to honor black men and women killed by police.
Protest organizers raise their firsts as they address fellow protesters.
State Sen. Michael Moore (D-Millbury) speaks to protesters after a moment of silence.
A young protester addresses Sen. Michael Moore (D-Millbury) and State Rep. David Muradian (R-Grafton) using a megaphone to directly ask them to pass legislation to fight police brutality.
A woman hugs Grafton High School junior Wesley Chiu as he cries following a speech recounting his own experiences facing racism in Grafton.