Lynn march in support of Tufts Dining workers draws hundreds

Protestors march from Lynn Police Headquarters to Lynn Common on the evening of June 26 in support of Tufts Dining workers Alexandros Armand and Victor R. White, and Scott Reed, who is unaffiliated with the university. Alexander Thompson / The Tufts Daily

Hundreds of protesters marched through Lynn, Mass. on June 26 in support of two Tufts Dining workers, Victor R. White and Alexandros Armand, and a third individual not affiliated with the university, Scott Reed.

The three men were arrested by Lynn police on the night of June 15, and White alleges that he was beaten by a police officer while in a holding cell at Lynn Police Department (LPD) headquarters.

“I already know me speaking up … is going to make me a target, but it’s okay, because I was born a target. I was born Black. I’m always going be a target,” White said to demonstrators massed in front of LPD headquarters

The crowd of protestors included Tufts students and members of UNITE HERE Local 26, the union that represents Tufts Dining workers.

Protesters demanded that all charges against the three men be dropped and for the officer involved in the alleged beating to be charged. They also called for the creation of a civilian review board and for surveillance camera footage from the holding cell where White claims he was beaten, to be released.

The department denied the Daily’s public records request for video surveillance footage of the incident.  

The demonstrators marched through Central Avenue until they arrived at the LPD headquarters. Three rows of LPD officers in neon vests were positioned in front of the department’s building. 

Armand spoke about his arrest outside the headquarters.

What happened that night was wrong,Armand said.My civil rights were violated. These charges need to be dropped and the police department needs to be held accountable.”

The Rev. Dr. Andre Bennett, who is a pastor at Zion Baptist Church in Lynn and president of the Essex County Community Organization, spoke against systemic racism during the protest. 

“The power of the people is greater than the people in power,” Bennett said. “And come election time we’re going to send a message to the city that we’re sick and we’re tired of the racist, systemic, oppressive nature that washes the city.” 

The LPD recently announced in a press release that an officer resigned following an internal investigation launched by the department into the arrests that led to the alleged beating.

Bennett indicated in his speech that the police officer who resigned must be held accountable for his actions.

“It is not enough that this police got the privilege of resigning. That’s not enough. You don’t get to resign,Bennett said. “We need him to be brought to justice.”

He also led the crowd in a rendition of “We Shall Overcome,” before protestors returned to Lynn Common.

Demonstrators knelt for eight minutes and 46 seconds during the march in memory of George Floyd, who was killed while in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25.

Georgia Kay, a member of Tufts Labor Coalition who helped organize the students’ participation in the march, estimated that about 250 students turned out for the demonstration.

“Alex and Victor show up every day to feed us, and we are their community,” Kay, a rising junior, said. “Two years ago when we were fighting for the contract, we said we would have their backs, and that’s what this means.”

White praised the students and union members for their support.

“I completely appreciate all the support that the students, the union members, the community, that they’re showing us right now, because we need this to spread to everybody, White said in an interview with the Daily. “If we’re silent, then the story’s never going to get out.”

White’s first court date at Lynn District Court is Sept. 11, while Armand will make his first appearance before a judge on Oct. 22. Local 26 is working to provide the pair with counsel.

Lynn Mayor Thomas McGee and LPD Chief Michael Mageary announced on June 29 that they are changing the department’s use-of-force policy to align with Campaign Zero, a project led by WeTheProtestors that is focused on ending police violence and racism in the U.S.