SALEM — Some residents are now calling for the removal of Capt. Kate Stephens from the Salem Police Department and plan to protest in front of the station Friday evening.
This follows a post Stephens made on the department's Twitter account Monday. In it, she criticized Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Gov. Charlie Baker for permitting a large protest in Boston Sunday night over the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, while many restrictions are still in place amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“@marty_walsh so you issued a permit for 10 of thousands of people to protest but I can’t go to a restaurant? You are ridiculous. You and Too Tall Deval are killing this State,” Stephens had tweeted, before deleting the post. She was subsequently placed on paid administrative leave by Chief Mary Butler pending an investigation and disciplinary process.
"I am absolutely mortified that an officer of the law, of OUR police department, thinks that eating at a restaurant should be as highly regarded as a black person's life," writes Mercis Arias, who is listed as the organizer of Friday's protest. "... As if she can not see the magnitude of the situation at hand. This officer was put on PAID LEAVE when in reality they should have been dismissed from the police department and of having any power over us. I don’t know about you guys but I’m not okay with this."
The event, set for 4-8 p.m., has received more than 600 responses on its Facebook page, with more than 100 people indicating they are going and nearly 500 interested.
Arias stressed that it is a "peaceful protest" and urges people who attend to wear masks, and that she would provide water, chairs and face masks for anyone who needs one.
Meanwhile, a Black Lives Matter protest is planned Friday in Peabody Square at 5 p.m.
This event, called "Peabody against social injustice (take 2)", comes after an initial protest slated for Thursday was postponed after the organizers spoke with Mayor Ted Bettencourt and agreed to host a demonstration in a different venue at a later time, with an emphasis on remembering Floyd's life and talking about racial inequality.
But not long after they shared that news on the Moving Peabody Forward Facebook page, a new protest was set for Friday evening, in the square, with a different group of organizers behind it.
"This is a peaceful protest happening whether the local government feels warm and fuzzy about it or not!" the new group wrote, also urging anyone who attends to wear face masks, bring hand sanitizer and follow social distancing measures.
"BLM (Black Lives Matter). We are not here to make you comfortable. We are here to make you listen," they wrote.
As of Thursday afternoon, nearly 300 people indicated they would attend and more than 500 were interested.
And in Danvers, residents are also planning a "nonviolent" protest "of the murder of George Floyd by police officers and in favor of confronting systemic racism" from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Friday in Danvers Square.
Organizers say that while they don't believe that would ever happen here, people must stand up to condemn such actions. The protesters plan to line the sidewalks along Maple Street and observe 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence at approximately 5:45 p.m.