Condemnation drawn to strong police presence around Black marathon spectators in Newton

04/19/2023 By Nick Antonakas

BOSTON – Police officers blocked the Heartbreak Hill cheer zone from the course during Monday’s race, resulting in the racially diverse spectators feeling targeted.

Courtesy of MGN.

Mike Remy, a spectator on Commonwealth Avenue in Newton amongst the crowd on Heartbreak Hill, described the pre-intervention scene positively, “We’re having a blast. We’re cheering everybody on, we’re high-fiving, we’re waving. Confetti’s popping, DJ’s spinning.” Suddenly, Remy goes on to describe, “a strong police presence shows up, specifically to our cheer zone to back us on up.”

The Newton Police Department said in a statement that they sent officers to the scene due to orders from the Boston Athletic Association. Police officers on the scene also “noted they were following orders.”

On the other hand, spectators found this wall created between officers and spectators “unsettling.” Aliese Lash explained to The Boston Globe, “We were at Heartbreak Hill, but it was a different type of heartbreak.” 

Another running group called November Project Boston wrote on an Instagram story that “the only group that saw a massive police presence as a result was a group of predominantly Black and Brown spectators.”

Despite the energy that was attempted to be policed at Heartbreak Hill, Pioneers Run Crew shared a video that displayed the cheer zone going insane, stating, “This is what they don’t want to see. But we are here … and we’re growing.”