Somerville mayor: Drop charges against 93 protesters

SOMERVILLE, Mass. (MyFoxBoston.com) - The Somerville mayor is calling for charges to be dropped against 18 people who protested on behalf of Black Lives Matter.

Those protesters blocked Interstate 93 in January, stopping traffic heading into Boston. Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone said the charges filed against them by Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan are "excessive."

The demonstrators were part of the "Black Lives Matter" movement. They were protesting the recent deaths of several black men at the hands of police officers around the country. Eighteen people were arrested in Somerville and Medford, more than a dozen others in Quincy and Milton.

Those protesters were in court Thursday and most face a range of charges and could get up to 90 days in jail or a $15,000 fine. And Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone says that's just not right.

Our cameras were there as more than a dozen of the 18 protesters spilled out of Somerville District Court. They're accused of chaining themselves to cement filled drums and lining up to form a barricade on Route 93. It snarled traffic for hours during the height of the morning rush hour and forced the diversion of ambulances.

When FOX25's Sharman Sacchetti asked protester Mallory Kaczmarek if there should be accountability for that, she did not answer, instead saying "I would focus on the need to address racism."

Curtatone tells me he's "trying to appeal to our consciousness."

In a new Facebook post, Mayor Curtatone writes, "drop the charges against the Somerville 18. We are a nation founded upon and strengthened by a long history of social activism and protest, from the Boston Tea Party to the freedom marches for civil rights." 

Last month, the mayor displayed a "Black Lives Matter" banner in front of Somerville's city hall. At the time he called the banner "a very clear statement" that "structural racism exists in our society."

In the Facebook post, the mayor compares the I-93 demonstration to similar protests by local police and firefighters in the 1980's. That protest occurred because hey were upset over layoffs.. Curtatone pointed out that none of those police officers or firefighters were arrested for their actions.

We can tell you one case was resolved, continued without a finding, but two others are going for a jury trial in December. The rest, all 15 have another court date next month. Those arrested in Quincy are set to appear in court in November.