A group of black and Latino Dorchester and Roxbury resident today blasted city and state officials for doing nothing to stop hundreds of people from across the Northeast congregating for a Carnival party along Talbot Avenue last weekend and said they will do what they have to to stop a similar gathering planned for this weekend.
At an afternoon press conference, members of the Black Boston Covid-19 Coalition said last week's two-day party, which shut Talbot Avenue and ended with one man shot, should never have been allowed to happen when Covid-19 is racing through the city, in particular among its black and Latino communities.
Dianne Wilkerson, the former state senator, noted how upset Charlie Baker and Marty Walsh got over earlier, smaller events involving white people - such as parties in Chatham and Cohasset in Chatham, and a jammed harbor cruise and yet did nothing to stop an unofficial Carnival party featuring DJs that forced the detour of MBTA buses. The day after the boat incident, she said, both Baker and Walsh held press conferences to insist they would not allow it to happen again.
"What happened this weekend should never have happened," she said. "Thousands of people got up Monday and went to work and didn't say a word about what they did Saturday and put the entire city at risk." She added that given that the party did happen, "we should have been doing massive testing and concentrated in those areas all week; there is surely a price to be paid for what has happened last week."
At a his own press conference about an hour earlier, Baker praised State and Boston Police for the way they broke up the party without any problems at a time when tensions are already high between police and minority communities - he seemed unaware of the shooting - even if it took several hours of slow, methodical work. "They handled it exactly the way you would want them to," he said.
Baker started the press conference to announce stepped up Covid-19 efforts in five high-risk communities - Revere, Chelsea, Everett, Lynn and Lawrence - that would include police patrols this weekend to break up large parties on even private property there, and possibly even fines for the party givers.
Wilkerson said she does not want police to go in and start arresting people, and she acknowledged that party goers sometimes harassed and spit at officers. But she said they should have put up barriers and sent people on their way rather than allowing them to coalesce into what she called "the largest superspreader event in New England."
"They have all the Black and brown people congregate in the park and the street every weekend" and nobody in government says a word, unlike what happened with Chatham and Cohasset, "and we're not supposed to question there's a double standard here?" she asked.
Coalition member Louis Elisa said people made numerous calls in advance and during the event to both 911 and 311 and yet the city took no steps to prevent the large gathering, at which many people either did not wear masks or wore them just around their necks, defeating their purpose.
In fact, in recent weeks, police have been blocking off the main roads in Franklin Park on weekend nights to prevent large parties there, although City Councilor Julia Mejia (at large), who attended the Zoomed press conference, said the effect of that may have simply been to send people over to American Legion Highway in Mattapan and Roslindale.
Mejia added that any city response should include the Boston Public Health Commission - to send in workers to try to educate party workers about the importance of such basic steps as wearing masks and keeping six feet away from other people.
Priscilla Flint-Blanks, whose mother died of Covid-19 earlier this year, vowed to do whatever it takes to put an end to the massive parties, even if it means going down to City Hall and kicking doors.
"This is no game, people, this is real life, death," she said. "I'm tired of burying people, I'm tired of burying my family, I'm tired of burying my friends!"