Gov. Baker Addresses Violence After Peaceful Brockton Protest

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — After another night of largely peaceful protests over the killing of George Floyd, Gov. Charlie Baker said he has had "productive" dialogue with members of black and latino communities, elected officials, and members of the clergy.

Following those conversations over the past few days, Gov. Baker said his administration is "working on ways to enhance transparency and accountability across the Massachusetts laws enforcement system."

"Our Commonwealth and our nation continue to experience pain and outrage in response to the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the police in Minneapolis," Baker said. "Thousands and thousands of people are making their voices heard and taking a stand against the violence and injustice that befalls the black community every day across this country."

At a press conference on Wednesday, Gov. Baker thanked "the vast majority" who protested peacefully and held prayer vigils in honor of George Floyd across Massachusetts this week.

He also thanked law enforcement, EMS, firefighters, and the National Guard, "for doing your jobs to protect your communities while ensuring others the right to speak out."

Gov. Baker said the fourth night of protests in Brockton and Boston were mostly peaceful, with moments of tension and raw emotion.

"People shared their pain and frustration, they shared their agony and their anger over the injustice that pervades our nation," said Baker. "It was hard to watch at times. There were also powerful moments, including some dialogue between law enforcement and the demonstrators."

However, violence broke out in Brockton after about an hour after the peaceful rally ended at West Middle School. At 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, hundreds of protesters marched to the Brockton police station. Some threw fireworks and rocks toward officers, while police deployed tear gas and pepper spray.

"The cowards and criminals who attempted to injure law enforcement and destroy property, I expect you'll have your day in court and will be held accountable," said Baker. "We cannot and should not stand for the shameful actions of a few, that attempt to distract from the important message everyone came together to share."

While Gov. Baker said the protests in Massachusetts so far have been mostly non-violent, he urged protestors to remember there is also another daunting issue to consider.

"We're in the midst of a global pandemic, fighting a virus that is incredibly infectious through close contact," he said. "We've asked people to stay home, to close their businesses, to isolate, and protect their health. And it's working. But we understand this guidance is in conflict with assembling to exercise first amendment rights. We ask everyone to balance to fight against the virus with the fight for what we as individuals believe in."

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(Photo: Gov. Baker/Flickr)

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