On 04/30/2015 at approximately 1518 I received a call from the Division Commander, Lt. Michael Mulcahy, that I was to report to Captain Michael Cabral near the College Ave MBTA Station with regards to a protest. I was in full uniform and assigned to the Somerville Police Traffic Bureau, at the time of my reassignment.
I reported to Captain Cabral, along with Officer Ross O’Meara, the other Traffic unit on this evening. Captain Cabral stated he was in touch with a point of contact for the protesters and it was supposed to be a peaceful demonstration. I was told we would accompany the protest march down College Ave, a public way within the City of Somerville, and across the Rotary back onto College Ave to Tufts University Property. The Captain was concerned to keep it a safe and peaceful protest and requested the side streets be covered so no vehicles could enter and possibly harm the protesters. Once we reached the rotary we were to deploy and shut down the rotary, a main hub for vehicles in the West end of Somerville, so the protesters could safely cross over to the continuation of College Ave. We had several Tufts Officers along with a small contingent of Somerville Officers to accomplish this task. The point of contact for the Captain had relayed that they wanted to block the rotary and the Captain stated they could not, however, his point of contact stated some young protesters may have a “sit in” and block the rotary. The Captain relayed the information to us stating, just be prepared.
As we came up to the rotary at Powderhouse vehicles deployed to assist an array of Tufts officers already on scene. I positioned my cruiser to block Broadway Eastbound, then exited my cruiser and advised a Tufts Sergeant to completely shut the rotary down. Traffic was still entering from Powderhouse Boulevard, however, Officer Perrone seemed to anticipate this and blocked that section with his cruiser. With the entire rotary shut down the crowd of peaceful protesters were chanting and coming up to the rotary. On College Ave the entire protest was halted as a small number of protesters sat down, refused to move, causing traffic to come to an absolute stand still. After a few minutes I walked over and displayed a pair of handcuffs, motioning for the protesters to move. A male that was walking in front with them came over towards me and I asked if he was in charge. The male stated that he was a liaison between the Police. I asked him to talk with those sitting in and to please encourage them to move, that if they needed to sit for a few minutes to make a statement I would allow that but needed them to understand they would be arrested if they refused. I watched as the male spoke with several of the protesters sitting. The male advised me that they were not going to move under any circumstances and were not afraid of arrest. A number of people with cell phones and cameras had entered the intersection to film the protest so allowing vehicles to move was not safe. a few horns were sounding and people getting upset over the major standstill at a major hub within the City. I was concerned that the longer these people stayed and annoyed people trying to get home during rush hour, that someone might take the law into their own hands and harm the otherwise peaceful protest. I was also concerned with such a major hub shutdown that an Ambulance, Fire apparatus, or Police cruiser could not get an emergency. I determined that those seated were staying after being prohibited from sitting, and their conduct was disturbing the many commuters attempting to legally travel through the streets. All were placed into custody and transported to the Somerville Police station for booking by Lt. A. Rymill.
Of Robert W Hickey