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SPD Update on the Pro-Palestine and Pro-Israel Protests at City Hall on 5/20/24

Somerville Police Department (SPD) 5/24/24

The Somerville Police Department is thoroughly trained and committed to protecting both public safety and freedom of speech at protests for both protestors and bystanders and does so with full neutrality and a commitment to de-escalation.    

Prior to the announced protest on Monday, May 20, 2024, at City Hall, police prepared a plan to station officers nearby but not directly at the protest location so as to be able to quickly respond if needed but not to intimidate, escalate, or over-police peaceful protest. The proximity of officers proved appropriate, as SPD was able to quickly move on scene with one and then two additional officers in order to maintain safety. This included maintaining access to City Hall, which was blocked at times by protestors. SPD also acted to maintain safety after counter protestors arrived.  

Police on scene responded without force to restore and maintain access to the City Hall main entrance, as needed. Additionally, Officers intervened without force to separate and create physical distance between protestors and counter protestors. SPD also conducted crowd control inside the building to safeguard access for all. Always, SPD puts safety first while seeking not to escalate crowd behavior. No physical injuries were observed by officers, and none were reported to SPD.  

With an increased risk of counter protest and increased tensions related to current issues, SPD will continue to keep officers prepared to focus on safety, de-escalation, and the universal protection of first amendment rights.  

It is not within our control, but it is our hope that protestors on any side of an issue will choose to advocate peacefully. But when we are needed, we will fulfill our duty neutrally to safeguard protected protest and speech, and we will continue to evolve our efforts to reflect best practices for public safety and de-escalation as we do so.

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