As the May Day Rally rolled through Chelsea’s Bellingham Square the rally cries for numerous causes went out over the bullhorn.
People were fired up.
It was their day to make their cause known.
At the end, though, a classy move transpired when the Collaborative and other organizers thanked the Chelsea Police for keeping them safe and keeping the rally to its intended purpose. That came even as a small, but vocal, group was on site protesting policing tactics in Chelsea and nationwide – a specific group not exactly known for its ability to work well with others (remember the shutting down of the Expressway last winter?). As the ‘thank yous’ came from the bullhorn, some in the audience didn’t care for vocal appreciation for the police, but most everyone else rained down ‘huzzahs’ and applause. It was the proverbial handshake that sealed what had been an extraordinary and quick-thinking pivot on the part of both the police and the Collaborative.
In context, the rally happened only hours after it was unexpectedly announced that six Baltimore police officers were being charged for various crimes, including second-degree murder.
The entire anti-police and anti-brutality movement was primed and ready for action – to take a victory lap that could become trouble if confronted by peacekeepers.
Rumors quickly spread that a Boston group planned to co-opt the May Day event in Chelsea – which is the largest rally of its kind in the area. Such a move could have resulted in madness or unintended consequences – and would have drowned out the Worker’s Rights message for which May Day is intended.
As we’re told, the Chelsea Police and other local police departments quickly teamed up with the Collaborative and some other organizers to work out a “back-of-the-napkin” security plan that was respectful and helpful. Things were done on the fly and ideas were hammered out, likely, over the phone.
There was a heavy police presence in Chelsea before and during the rally.
Police were on guard, but they didn’t wear riot gear or carry clubs.
They talked with a lot of the protestors, milled about in the crowd and made sure cars were at a safe distance from the participants.
In the end, only a small contingent of anti-police protestors showed up, albeit with a big sign.
Those protestors probably didn’t like seeing all those police wandering around.
The police probably didn’t like seeing the big sign proclaiming police brutality.
But in the end, no one said a word.
No one looted nearby bodegas or clothing stores, and no one burned down any buildings.
They had a rally; it was safe; they stated their concerns, and then they moved on.