Boston Police Commissioner Bill Evans is defending the department’s choice to let a group of protesters block a street in the financial district Monday around rush hour.
Evans told Boston Public Radio today he did not want to put protesters in police custody because the effort would have diverted officers and squad cars away from neighborhoods that need them.
“The alternative would have been to tie up a lot of resources for a lot of hours when we have higher priorities on keeping kids safe throughout the city,” said Evans.
The 200 protesters were from the Poor People’s Campaign, which advocates for a higher minimum wage.
Evans said many of the protesters were elderly, and many used wheelchairs. He suggested this added complexity to the department’s decision.
“We probably could have gotten them out of there,” Evans said, “but we would have had to pull every wagon around the city, all kinds of resources down there, pull them away from neighborhoods where we’re having violence where we need them a lot more, to pull off an operation.”
Police instead diverted traffic around the protesters situated at the intersection of Franklin and Congress Streets. The protest lasted from 4 p.m. through 7:45 p.m.
“I apologize if people were inconvenienced, but [the protesters] had a cause. They sat there — and 200 of them — we waited them out,” said Evans.
Boston Police Commissioner Bill Evans joins BPR once a month for “Ask The Commissioner.”