Rachael C. Stein ’17 was arrested in Boston last Tuesday evening on a “disorderly person” charge at a rally protesting a St. Louis County grand jury’s decision not to indict a white Missouri police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black teenager.
Stein, along with dozens of other protesters arrested that night, was arraigned Wednesday morning in court. Like others, Stein’s misdemeanor charge was downgraded to a civil infraction.
According to Stein, she had been at the front of the rally at the time of her arrest, facing police officers who blocked the protesters' entrance to Interstate 90 near South Station.
Delfina S. Martinez-Pandiani ’17, who was near Stein when she was arrested, said that protesters and police on the scene were pushing against one another. According to Martinez-Pandiani, the protesters in the back jostled those in the front forward in a “domino effect,” while a number of police officers were trying to force the protesters back.
Stein alleged that “unnecessary force was used in the arrests,” including her own. The Boston Globe reported that other protesters have made similar allegations.
Stein, who went to the hospital to have her injuries documented after her arraignment, said she suffered a mild concussion and damage to her ear cartilage from being forced down during her initial arrest. She also said she experienced wrist abrasions and tendon and nerve compression resulting in loss of sensation in her arm from her restraints.
While the arrested protesters are currently filing incident reports, Stein said it is presently “unclear” whether they will come together to file for alleged police brutality.
Both Stein and Martinez-Pandiani expressed their surprise at the perceived violence during the arrest, characterizing police officers as otherwise “stoic” throughout the night.
“The policemen in general were very calm, very serene, and very understanding…. That was important for the peaceful protest,” Martinez-Pandiani said.
Keyanna Y. Wigglesworth ’16, who attended the rally and left after the group reached the I-90 entrance, said she saw only one forceful interaction when police officers knocked down protesters who had latched onto a truck being let into the blocked highway.
“I don’t think it was as violent as I think it could have been,” Wigglesworth said.
Stein was back on the streets Friday participating in a smaller demonstration related to the Ferguson decision. Roughly 50 demonstrators marched outside the Prudential Center in a protest organized by Black Lives Matter Boston, which had also planned Tuesday’s rally.
Stein said her arrest at Tuesday’s protest has only increased her desire to attend similar protests.
“The fact that people were arrested at a peaceful protest because they were rightfully outraged is perpetuating my anger on this issue and making me want to participate even more [in similar protests],” Stein said. She added that she hoped her experience does not discourage people from participating in similar protests, particularly “white allies.”
“If there’s any further action, I’d probably go, and get as many Harvard students as I can to go with me,” Stein said.
—Staff writer Quynh-Nhu Le can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.