BOSTON — A local artist who alleges he was assaulted during a march by the white supremacist group Patriot Front is calling for an independent investigation into the police response to the incident.
Charles Murrell III told police he was assaulted near Back Bay Station. According to the police incident report, Murrell alleges he was walking down Dartmouth Street on his phone when “a group of individuals with shields and masks” started shoving him.
“According to (victim) he yelled at the group to get away from him and to stop pushing him. (Victim) went on to report that he eventually shoved back/swung his arm to separate himself when a larger majority of the group then joined in, knocking him to the ground and continuing to hit and kick him,” according to the report.
An image published on the front page of The Boston Herald shows Murrell surrounded by men carrying shields. They were part of a larger group of about 100 who marched Saturday down Boston’s Freedom Trail, up Commonwealth Avenue and into Copley Square. The group, identically dressed and with faces concealed, carried various provocative flags — including that of Patriot Front, a group well-known for advocating white supremacy.
Murrell spoke briefly Wednesday after he and a group of advisers met with Boston Mayor Michelle Wu. His advisers were encouraged by the meeting and said they have requested documentation of the incident, including copies of the police report, bodycam footage and radio transmissions around the time of the alleged assault.
They are also seeking an independent investigation into whether police failed to intervene in the assault or make arrests.
“This is what every human being that lives in our country deserves,” Murrell said. “We’re not in a third world country where we don’t have the resources or the ability to protect people.”
He added that the alleged assault goes beyond “white supremacists beat up Black man,” which he noted some of the headlines surrounding the incident have read.
“We are living in a state where it’s not condoned if Black Lives Matter are going out in the streets and beating people up. If my gay friends are going out in the street and beating up straight people, that is not okay in this country,” Murrell said.
Speaking at a news conference on Tuesday, Boston Superintendent-in-Chief Gregory Long said no officers witnessed the incident. Long said many detectives are assigned to the case and are looking at videos from that day.
“If we are able to make identifications...there will be charges brought,” said Long.
Murrell said he suffered a hand injury from the incident but declined to detail exactly what happened to him until he receives the materials from police.
“That’s exactly why we’re calling for the videos and body cams,” said Rev. Miniard Culpepper, who appeared alongside Murrell on Wednesday. “What better picture of what happened than the actual body cam videos?”
Questions remain over how the march unfolded without advance knowledge from the city – something Murrell and his advisers also want investigated. Robert Trestan, New England regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, said such “flash demonstrations” are typical of Patriot Front.
“Flash demonstration – they keep it a secret. You don’t really know until they show up,” Trestan said.
Mayor Wu said this week police responded quickly once they learned about the marchers, but they had very little warning.
“Here, it was an unexpected, unannounced drop-in,” she told reporters.
Wu’s office confirmed the meeting with Murrell but offered no further comment. The Boston Police Department says it continues to investigate the incident.
Murrell is also calling for the formation of a race commission at both the city and state level.
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