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Group wants officials to help stop a second superspreader party on Talbot Avenue this weekend

Priscilla Flint-Blanks

Priscilla Flint-Banks breaks down thinking about all the people she's had to watch die.

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!"

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Comments

If BPD and the State Police broke up and made arrest (their always a few morons in group) we'd be hearing about how they targeted AA community.

In the current climate i don't blame them for not doing anything. They're going to be refunded shortly anyways.

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Go back and read the story again. They weren't asking them to break up a party once I started, but to have done something to keep the party from starting in the first place.

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It look them long enough to block off Franklin Park. There have been parties there all summer. What could they have done? Block off Talbot from Washington to Blue Hill, as well as the side streets?

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How is the city and/or Commonwealth going to prevent it from happening? Not issuing them a permit they didn’t apply for? Blanket the area with police forcing people to keep moving? And how should law enforcement have reacted if/when people insisted on congregating? Should the police have used their powers of arrest to keep the event from happening? Finally, what would the reaction of “the community” have been to the city/Commonwealth ensuring that the event did not happen?

This is another case of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”

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Ramping up testing and stepped up public communication this week seem like good suggestions. I agree with you that once the party starts good options are limited.

Disappointing to see so many in our community making the poor decision to assemble and party in that manner given the current state of the world, especially in a portion of the community getting hit in an outsized manner by the pandemic, but not the first or last time we will see it, particularly with the younger crowd.

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At this point everyone knows you are suppose to stay socially distant and/or wear a mask. The people who disregard these regulations just don't care.

Mass testing might help even if the tests are free and convenient, you've got to convince people to take the test frequently and monitor the results.

The state can only do so much. It's easy to fine a business owner (cruise operator, casino) but when it's a community driven event who are you going to hold responsible? Good luck going after Facebook.

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And that canned talking points knee jerk reflex is going to do permanent damage to your eye.

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it's kinda harsh to assume someone's an alcoholic just because they party.

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"community" activists were calling for the firing of a police officer, ordered not to escalate the situation by superiors, pictured standing passively with hands in his pockets. OUTRAGE!

Do your job! Break it up!

How dare you break it up!

Stop the party before it starts...

Why can't we have parties...

Hypocrisy can be exhausting.

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without the backdrop.

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"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."

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Have there been documented cases of super-spreading from events that occurred entirely outside?

An aggressive police response in a Black community would likely have led to serious problems of a different kind, which I'm happy to see Boston continue to avoid.

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An aggressive police response would have been even worse, and the optics of having the city/state break up a large peaceful gathering of black & brown people, Covid or no Covid, are very, very bad.

It's politically acceptable for white politicians to criticize large gatherings of white people as super-spreader events. It's not acceptable for them to do the same of people of color.

As for the party boat -- the state had an enforcement mechanism against Bay State Cruises. Not so much against an informally organized Carnival party.

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it would be politically acceptable for black politicians to criticize a black organized event not adhering to quarantine.

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Yes, the S. Dakota motorcycle rally has already been documented to cause a bunch of cases and at least one death. Hard to track, since it was people from all over who dispersed back to their states after they left.

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Did the virus transmit there because people were riding motorcycles together, or because the attendees also hung out at indoor bars and restaurants?

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Likely had to do with the partying that went on, concerts, etc.

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what you consider a bunch. NPR covered it Monday and said there had been 250 cases and one confirmed death. That sounds like a lot until you realize that over half a million people attended. That is an extremely small percentage of cases.

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Even if such large gatherings of people are held outdoors, with people not social distancing, there's still the risk of the Covid-19 virus spreading, especially since it's much, much more contagious and deadlier than the seasonal flu(s) that hit us every fall and winter, or the common cold.

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Can Diane hear what she's saying?

Cops tell people at an ethnic celebration, at 2am, to disperse. Someone in the crowd spits, or throws a rock or bottle. Then what?

Wilkerson, Meija and the others need to get a grip. Their demands are the most rediculous thing I've heard in boston since the Olympic committee insisting on dedicated VIP lanes.

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They're asking for the city to keep the parties from starting to begin with, hardly the same thing.

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Maybe, if everything works perfectly, the city tells the celebrants to please not congregate tonight, and everyone just says Ok and goes home.

Or maybe they go to another street or park and start again. Then things devolve. Sorry, this just seems like a recipe for problems.

And blaming the city for a group congregating just seems wrong. Blame the people organizing and joining a party, no matter their demographic. Everybody knows better.

They're asking for the city to keep the parties from starting to begin with, hardly the same thing.

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When they are unofficial? Choose your preferred option:

Have BPD get the organizers and bring them in for a talk? Racist - unfairly targeting BIPOC. The Globe will say, the city didn't target the boat/cruise company before the party.

Police barriers? Racist - blocking access to disproportionately minority communities, even people who live there.

Violently break things up? Do you want a repeat of all the tragedies that have happened so far?

If you chose none of the above, I'll be happy to hear your solution to this problem.

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There's constant messaging that Covid-19 disproportionately affects communities of color due to higher preponderance of pre-existing health conditions, poorer access to health care, and greater employment in jobs which cannot be performed remotely. There's constant messaging that people need to wear masks and that large gatherings are bad until coronavirus transmission can be brought down to near zero.

The City didn't (and wouldn't, in the current situation) issue any permits for this street party. I think almost all are in agreement that there would have been backlash if the police had broken up a peaceful unofficial street party or been more aggressive about preventing it. Does anyone really think that additional stern admonitions from Marty Walsh or Charlie Baker would have kept this party from happening? If people don't have enough common sense to NOT do things like organizing street parties during a pandemic, do you really think that having outreach workers say, "please, please, please don't have this party" will change their minds?

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Everywhere. Period.

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How this reads:

Community: Please stop overpolicing us.

Police: OK.

Community: Why aren't you overpolicing us?

(I recognize it's more complicated that this. But what are the police supposed to do? People in these communities are already (understandably) on edge and very distrustful of the police. Do we really think that police would be able to do any good in this situation? At least these parties are outside, where COVID is less likely to spread than indoors. More police involvement here seems like a no-win situation.)

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What part of no large gatherings don’t you get no parades and there hasn’t been no marathon there hasn’t been one so why is it okay for anyone to think that they have the right to have a festival why because it’s push back and then ya “oh no Covid” and I’m sick of burying people then do something about it and stop putting the blame on others and as far as the thief herself Diane must be looking for a position somewhere Step up and call it what it is Not a problem when they congragate for a peaceful march

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I'm pretty sure people have asked the city to do something, not police. Wilkerson specifically said she's not asking for the police to roll in and bust up a party-in-progress. The fact that so many people assume that the city taking action here automatically means sending in the cops is illustrative, RE: how few non-punitive options civil society has given itself to handle transgressive behavior. Many people can't even imagine what such options might look like.

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Nt

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I'm just reacting based on what was said in the article. "Police" are mentioned 5 times by multiple people, often in reference to what police in other nearby towns are doing. Mejia mentioned having Boston Public Health Commission workers educating people instead. We can certainly try that, but my question is "Do people not know about COVID-19, or do they just not care?"

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Um, so her credibility has been restored?

To use a word that used to be used a lot more on Blue Hill Avenue 75 years ago. She's got a lot of chutzpah to chime in on anything.

One of the stories from yesterday was the cops stepping on the pedal on the OT at the evidence facility. I wonder if Diane's bra is still in there or did she get it back?

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Your comment doesn't have the regular zing it usually does. Take her at face value and judge the comments, not the distant past.

Or, be more clever. lol

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The Globe cheered her on for years so hard that even Shirley Leung could have said "Guys, don't you think you a pushing it a bit hard on this one?".

She was supposed to be the shining light. Instead there was just enough light for the camera to get the $23,500 she stole.

She turned out to be about as old school as they come when it came to politics. She is a convicted felon who betrayed the public trust.

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23 grand! Meanwhile, Sal Fucking DiMasi only got about 60 grand that we know of and he gets to be a lobbyist after convincing the Feds and a gullible public that he was dying.

When I’ll say it was mostly Sal reminding everyone he had the goods on them.

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faceplant.

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so ADULTS who are well aware of the Covid situation should have stayed home and not had their own unofficial celebration. Diane Wilkerson thinks the police should have STOPPED THEM??? Ridiculous. Get your heads on straight people. Classic damned if you do, damned if you don't situation.

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The people in charge (i. .e Governor Baker, and various mayors and town administrations here in the Commonwealth) should use tough enforcement of the rules for mask wearing and social distancing, as well as the rule against large gatherings of people, whether indoors or outdoors. That's the only real way to control the spread of this deadly Covid-19 pandemic. Not only should the people in charge get tough on large neighborhood gatherings of people, but they, along with the college and University administrations here in the Boston area should get really tough on college students who insist on flaunting the rules for mask wearing and social distancing, and the rules against large gatherings of people.

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So mass protesting and rioting is OK but a festival is not? If fun was a crime MA would be the ultimate prosecutor.

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Rioting = Not OK

Protesting = OK

I realize that our President always equates these two actions as being the same thing, but surprisingly he is incorrect in this situation.

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Protesters wore masks

Protesters distanced themselves

The state tested protesters through special events and pleas to get tested

The state did tens of thousands more tests during that event than before or after

Result:

NO DIFFERENCE IN THE RATES OF INFECTION, NO CHANGE IN THE PERCENT POSITIVE!

Conclusion: Protests did not spread COVID in MA.

Facts don't care what you believe. Or what I believe. They just are. Sorry.

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I live in the Franklin Park neighborhood. Resident since the 70s. I strongly believe the majority of residents want to feel safe and just ask if we can just ride this one out because of Covid 19. Carnival will never go away because it is a part of our lives and always will be. Don't worry. We'll get through this. My favorite feeling I got from over the years was the smell of the food and the feeling of dancing in the street to the hypnotic music. Dance is nature's therapy for mind and body.

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