Community Leaders Hold Press Conference Outside BPD Headquarters To Address Videotaped Police Beating of 16-year-old

One surefire way to rile activists is to beat a teenager in plain sight, and tell witnesses that they can't record the free-for-all. Needless to say, more than a few folks are furious in the wake of news that Boston Police Department officers jabbed and kicked a 16-year-old inside a Roxbury Community College building this past Friday.

At the time of this writing, more than 17,000 people have viewed a seven minute YouTube video (above) in which what appears to be a mix of plain clothes and uniformed officers repeatedly assault a juvenile in custody. Despite claims that the alleged fugitive resisted arrest – and a statement from Commissioner Ed Davis claiming that an investigation is under way – more than a dozen respected local leaders aired grievances this afternoon in front of BPD headquarters.

“It's on all of us to answer the question of 'Who wants to do something about this,'” said organizer Jamarhl Crawford, who also read from a prepared statement. “This press conference has been called after repeated attempts and pleas for the Mayor and Commissioner to open the table to new ideas from fresh voices in order to combat all violence in the city.”

Speakers brought more than just rhetoric. Representatives from the Boston Black Men's Leadership Group and the National Action Network demanded that a community civilian board be put in charge of reviewing the case; an attorney from the law offices of civil rights attorney Howard Friedman was also on hand to explain that it was perfectly legal for onlookers to record the incident. “The [police sergeant who told people they could not shoot video] should be disciplined,” said attorney David Milton.

It was also noted that police brutality is not a new issue for Boston; Crawford specified that the public is still in the dark about specifics surrounding the April killing of Manuel DaVeiga, who died in a shootout with state police and city officers. “The police must serve and protect,” said former State Senator Bill Owens. “We don't pay police officers to beat up on our children. We will not tolerate these atrocities.”

Despite this being the height of election season, most major news outlets came to cover speeches by local clergy and other concerned individuals. So it looks like this story might have legs after all. Tomorrow (Friday) afternoon, starting at 5pm, community residents – not united under any particular banner – will gather outside of the Roxbury Crossing T stop for a larger public rally.

“I'm here as a concerned resident,” said James Hills, a former special assistant to Mayor Menino and city liaison to the faith community. “We want the response of young people to this to be constructive and positive.”

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