Over 600 people protested the lack of safety for children in the Boston Public Schools yesterday at noon at City Hall Plaza.
Last week, Darryl Williams, a student at Jamaica Plain High School, was shot at Charlestown High School during a football game. There has been a continuing pattern of racial violence since school started, Terry Tirrel, an organizer of the event, said yesterday, adding, "The shooting was the straw that broke the camel's back."
Patricia B. Corcoran, co-chairman of the Citywide Parents' Advisory Council (CPAC) which organized the rally, said the demonstrators want the mayor to form a special safety task force and to meet with CPAC within the next ten days.
The task force would consist of parents, students, and representatives from the mayor's office, the Board of Education, and the Boston Police, Corcoran said.
CPAC cancelled a school boycott scheduled for yesterday "in the interests of educating the students," Corcoran said.
Despite the boycott cancellation, approximately 200 students from Boston English High School, Boston Trade and Technical School, and Madison Park High School, joined the demonstration, a school safety officer said.
"Basically everyone decided on their own to come," a Boston English student said.
"We don't have any kind of protection," the student said, adding, "We always look behind us when we walk in the halls."
"We are here today to get the whole community to join hands to protect the children," Father James Braddock of the Commission for Justice and Peace said. Corcoran said the rally was held downtown "because it is a citywide problem."
CPAC invited Kevin White, Chief of Police Joseph Jordan, School Commissioners, and the superintendent of schools to address the crowd, Hattie Dudley, co-chairman of CPAC, said yesterday. None of them attended the rally.
The mayor made "an unequivocal rejection of all racial violence" Tuesday at Jamaica Plain High School.
Braddock said the School Committee met last June about safety and nothing was done. "Things haven't improved," he added.
Numerous groups endorsed the rally, among them the Harvard-Radcliffe Black Students Association.
At the end of the rally, Dudley said, "We hope the students here today will go back to school in peace and protect each other."
At that point, a voice from the crowd shouted, "Sister, we can't stop bullets."