Neighborhoods in Boston are cleaning up this morning after yesterday's peaceful protest ended in instances of destruction. WGBH Morning Edition host Joe Mathieu spoke with WGBH Senior Investigative Reporter Phillip Martin about what actually happened after peaceful protestors went home. The transcript has been edited for clarity.

Joe Mathieu: Phillip, first of all, good morning and thank you for joining us. It's important to note things did not get ugly until most people had gone home last night.

Phillip Martin: Joe, that's a very important point to emphasize. Let me tell you where I'm standing, first of all. I'm in front of a store called All Too Human [on Clarendon Street], which was ransacked last night. I spoke with the owner. I've been in and out of the store. I'm looking at a huge glass plate that's broken.

But that's not what I want to emphasize. I want to emphasize, as you started off saying, that this began with a huge demonstration at Government Center yesterday that was — and the word is important — peaceful. Hundreds of people turned into thousands of people by the night's end, when hundreds, perhaps thousands more, started marching from Nubian Square in Roxbury to the State House to converge with this other group. So you had thousands of people — an estimate, we don't know what that is entirely yet — but there were thousands, it's safe to say that. And they were in front of the State House protesting peacefully against the latest police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

And what happened subsequent to that was that a much smaller group — and these are two different events. I don't use that word "devolve" into violence because these are two different events. A smaller group started looting, setting fires. And then another group — and I would characterize this group as opportunists — saw what was happening. Perhaps they saw it on television. It was being aired live, of course, and hundreds of cars descended on the area. Those cars were not present during the demonstrations, I can tell you that. Suddenly they appeared and people were taking advantage of a peaceful situation. But it did not devolve. There were opportunists and there were others who did, in fact, see this as an opportunity. Perhaps anarchists, though there's no evidence of that, who saw this as an opportunity to to engage in violence.

Mathieu: Well, people are throwing around a lot of labels, Phillip, here and around the country. This started Friday. We had it Saturday [and] Sunday in every other city. And now it's Boston where we hear one side say 'It's left-wing radicals, it's Antifa, we can prove it.' We have other sides saying that it's white supremacists. And then there are people saying these are just troublemakers, to your point, opportunists. Does anyone actually know what they're talking about?

Martin: At this point, it's not clear. The mayor is convening a press conference at noon. He's supposed to get some clarity on that issue. But you're right. These are politicized terms and politicized moments. And so some, including the president, would like to place the onus on one group of people. He wants to brand the Antifa, who are antifascists, as terrorists, something which we know is unconstitutional at this point. And I say "at this point" because it's hard to know what is going to happen over the next few days and weeks. And then, of course, there was also right-wing, white supremacist groups posting on their website that they should take part in the demonstration, but it's not clear that they, in fact, did take part in any of these demonstrations. So the evidence is absolutely weak at this point unless we hear and see something else in the next few days and hours perhaps, it's all speculation of as to who basically started this violence.

Mathieu: Yeah, and Boston is not an exception there. How much destruction did these troublemakers make? Is that store one of many where you are on that block?

Martin: It is quite a bit of damage. I spoke to someone who's been repairing glass and boarding up buildings all night. And this store where I'm standing — again called, perhaps ironically, All Too Human — the windows are broken out, there was an attempt to break through the front door, but the glass held [and] the back door of this place has been broken. The looters basically went through the front and went out the back where, according to the owner [and] based on surveillance cameras, there was a car waiting. So I asked her how much damage she incurred. She doesn't know the estimate right now, but she said it's quite a bit. She also said that she understood the anger, she just didn't understand the destruction.

Mathieu: There's a big difference. Philip, we have one minute left. I want to ask in some of the other cities, we've heard and seen actual video of journalists being targeted by both police and protesters, in some cases being shot by rubber bullets at point-blank range, in other cases being arrested. Have you heard any reports of journalists running into trouble in Boston last night?

Martin: I heard of one journalist, a Channel Five reporter, who was harassed by some people in the crowd. But for the most part, people were treated cordially. I personally was treated very cordially, interviews were easy, people were willing and, in fact, desperate to talk about why they were out on the street protesting peacefully because the life of yet another Black man had been taken by policemen under the worst possible circumstances: in broad open daylight, kneeling on the man's body [and] on his neck.

And that's why they were there last night, some with their children. And they spoke easily to a journalist. There was no targeting of journalists at all by either demonstrators or police that I saw here in Boston, [besides] one minor incident.