Black Lives Matter protesters confront Attleboro mayor

ATTLEBORO, M.A. (WLNE) – Hundreds gathering here for a Black Lives Matter protest, aiming to be peaceful and focused on speakers.

But there were also sharp tensions, revealing some deep divisions.

It started during Mayor Paul Heroux’s speech, after he said no police officer anywhere wants to use force.

That’s when some in the crowd started heckling him.

“I think it’s bubbled to a point across this entire nation where people have had enough,” said Attleboro native Akuba Badoe. “People’s eyes are opening.”
Some say that tension bubbling up is an opportunity for learning.
“I think people have to feel uncomfortable and tense to really have that emotion evoked to start the change that we need,” said Denyelle Lobo of Attleboro. “Those officials are the ones who have the power, We need them to hear how we feel and what’s going on in our communities, to pass that along to really make a major change in our country.”

But Mayor Heroux says he’s not aware of specific complaints related to police brutality in his community.

“If there were a problem with police brutality in Attleboro, the police chief and I would do something about it,” he said. “We wouldn’t tolerate it. To heckle and hijack at a demonstration like this, that’s not the right way to fix it.”

The heckling calmed down as organizers asked the crowd to take a knee.

Todd McGhee, a former Massachusetts State Police trooper and speaker who trains law enforcement, stepped in to help de-escalate the situation.

He says the solution to preventing police brutality is not to defund police departments, but to make sure officers are trained properly to avoid force.
“Allocating money for education,” said McGhee, of Attleboro. “What happens in every police force across the United States, is training is the first budget that’s cut.”

 

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