Black Lives Matter protesters gathered at the Springfield, MA, courthouse Thursday as a hearing was taking place inside to determine the fate of 15 protesters who were arrested in April for blocking traffic.
The Black Lives Matter protesters chanted anti-police slogans, including, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, these killer cops have got to go.” Masslive.com reports that, when a police officer passed by, the group chanted, “Back up, back up, we want freedom, freedom. All these racist [expletive] cops, we don’t need em, need em.” The news site posted video of the protest, but the clip did not include any of the explicit chants.
In addition to the anti-police slogans, one of the protesters on Thursday was wearing a sweatshirt reading, “Assata Taught Me.” Assata Shakur (a.k.a. Joanne Chesimard) was convicted of the murder of New Jersey state trooper Werner Foerster in 1977.
Shakur, with the help of members of the Black Liberation Army, escaped from prison in 1979 and eventually relocated to Cuba where she has lived ever since. In 2013, Shakur became the first woman added to the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list. There is a $1 million reward for information leading to her capture.
The protest in Springfield stems from the arrest of Black Lives Matter protesters in April, when a group blocked traffic in one of the city’s busiest intersections. Protesters were warned by police as many as 10 times to leave, and those who did not were arrested. At the time, Masslive.com reported protesters chanted slogans referring to police as “pigs” and “racists.”
A trio of attorneys for the 15 arrested protesters sought to have the charge of resisting arrest dropped but did not challenge the disorderly conduct charges. Assistant district attorney Laila Atta pointed out that, in addition to inconveniencing many commuters, a school bus and an ambulance had to be rerouted. The judge took the arguments under advisement and said he would make a decision in time for the next hearing.
A hearing related to 15 of those individuals was held at the Springfield courthouse Thursday morning at about the time the protest took place.