U.S. Attorney General William Barr was in Boston on Thursday and met with Boston Police Commissioner William Gross. That meeting sparked criticism from many elected officials, and led to Gross defending why he met with the controversial head of the Department of Justice.
The U.S. Department of Justice tweeted out a photo of Barr and Gross shoulder-to-shoulder, and not wearing masks together in Boston. Supposedly it was the first time a sitting U.S. Attorney General had visited the Boston Police Department.
Today, Attorney General Barr met w/ @BPDPCGross and his outstanding @bostonpolice team. Commissioner Gross told us it was the first time a U.S. Attorney General had visited Boston PD. Thank you, Comm. Gross, for your wonderful hospitality and invaluable insight and advice. pic.twitter.com/xOob3OiMyM
— Kerri Kupec DOJ (@KerriKupecDOJ) June 18, 2020
As chief legal counsel to the president, Barr has most recently been widely condemned for ordering peaceful protestors to be teargassed in Washington D.C. to clear the way for President Trump to walk where the protestors were occupying so he could do a photo op.
The Boston Police Department released a statement from Gross on Thursday afternoon, explaining why he met with Gross:
As Police Commissioner, I often have to put my personal feelings aside. The top law enforcement official in the country requested a meeting with the Boston Police Department and I would rather take the opportunity to educate someone on what we are doing in Boston on how we value and work with the community, and how we support our officers in this work, than close a door. A meeting does not mean I agree with his policies in any way, but I hope he walked away knowing a little more about ours.
Massachusetts elected officials were quick to criticize the meeting.
U.S. Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (D-MA 8th) said she'd like to be part of the next meeting between Gross and Barr, and that she'd be bringing her own counsel -- Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.
So AG Barr let’s skip the pleasantries. Next time you set foot in my district I demand a face to face meeting where you look me in the eye and explain why you tear gassed peaceful protestors. Understood?
I will have counsel present @MassAGO
— Ayanna Pressley (@AyannaPressley) June 19, 2020
Healey offered her opinion of Barr.
We are in court against Bill Barr constantly, and I can tell you this man does not care about justice or the people of Boston. https://t.co/tlHzncpoKT
— Maura Healey (@MassAGO) June 19, 2020
At-Large City Councilor Michelle Wu was not happy with the meeting.
👀Racism Is A Public Health Crisis...aka don’t welcome the person who dismisses systemic racism & creates/enforces racist policies through abuses of power!!! This is a disgrace to our city & a breach of trust to our communities. https://t.co/tfhxVajm8Y
— Michelle Wu 吳弭 (@wutrain) June 18, 2020
And neither was District 4 City Councilor Andrea Campbell.
Defund whatever the hell this is. https://t.co/q0b3lxCXX5
— Andrea J. Campbell (@CampbellforD4) June 18, 2020