NEWTON, Mass. — A YouTube video showing some of the police presence along a stretch of the Boston Marathon is getting a lot of attention on social media. The video shows a Black man asking police why they were lined up with their patrol bikes blocking a group of primarily Black spectators from the marathon course. Some people question whether the group of spectators was being unfairly policed.
In the video Mike Remy posted on his YouTube channel, he says Newton police officers can be seen lined up with their bicycles between a group of spectators and the runners at mile 21 along Commonwealth Avenue. “I don’t even know what the presence is all about,” Remy said in the video. Remy believes the group he was in was being over-policed because of their appearance. “We couldn’t high five anymore, pop the confetti anymore and it wasn’t until that happened and them pushing us back and I step away and turn around and realize we were surrounded,” said Remy.
Newton police shared additional videos showing people running in the course, loud music being played, and a chaotic scene. In a written statement, Newton Police wrote, “After being notified by the B.A.A three times about spectators traversing the rope barrier and impeding runners, the Newton Police Department responded respectfully and repeatedly requesting that spectators stay behind the rope and not encroach onto the course. When spectators continued to cross the rope, NPD with additional officers calmly used bicycles for a short period to demarcate the course and keep both the runners and spectators safe.”
Two people who live by the area in question told us the group was very loud and running in the course shooting off confetti. “The music was so loud the house was vibrating. The house was shaking from the music,” said one neighbor. “It seems very curious that you would come bring this presence here but not equally throughout the course,” said Remy. “The police were here a half a dozen times. It wasn’t just once. There was motorcycle police, patrol cars and several times they spoke to them asking them to lower the volume,” said the neighbor.
In a statement, the Boston Athletic Association said, “The B.A.A. is committed to creating a safe and enjoyable experience for athletes, volunteers and spectators across all our events.”
The TrailblazHers Run Co. and Pioneers Run Crew, the group that was at the center of the police presence controversy, are demanding accountability and an apology from police and city officials.
“Yesterday, Monday, April 17th, 2023 was supposed to be a day that prioritized joy, remembrance, celebration, and community,” the group wrote in a statement. “Instead, our joy was diminished by over-policing and hostile encounters, both verbally and physically, at our cheer zone at Mile 21.”
The group says they were treated unfairly and other groups who were celebrating runners in the same fashion didn’t garner the police presence they did.
“It is not a coincidence that one of the most diverse cheer zones, if not the most, along the entire course was dealt with in this way,” they said.
TrailblazHers Run Co. and Pioneers Run Crew demanded an apology from the B.A.A., the Metro LEC Police, and an official statement from both the Mayor of Newton and the Mayor of Boston.
The group’s full statement is listed below:
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