On Monday morning, hours after looting and clashes between protesters and police had left Boston Common and downtown Boston strewn with broken glass, litter, and other debris, a group of volunteers were hard at work cleaning up the area. The effort, which drew dozens of helpers, was spearheaded by a call for volunteers posted on Clean Up BOSTON, a Facebook group managed by Dorchester resident Sierra Rothberg.
Rothberg started the group some five years ago “as a space to have a platform to talk about quality of life issues and share resources with other grassroots-organized community groups.” Clean Up Boston, which has more than 800 members, routinely organizes litter pick-up events and disseminates tips related to the city’s zero waste and sustainability campaigns.
After putting out a “call to action” on Sunday night while she was watching the destruction and vandalism taking place on the news and social media, Rothberg drove to the common early Monday morning to assess the damage. She told the Reporter that the people who showed Monday up to lend a helping hand came “from everywhere.
“I posted in a lot of different community groups, and people were really driven to help in any way that they could,” she said. “There were a lot of people just passing by at Park Street and asking, ‘Can I help?’ By the end we had going down Boylston, from Tremont to Copley, about 30 people who didn’t want to leave.”
Much of the group’s energy went toward cleaning off graffiti that had been spray painted on MBTA infrastructure, sidewalks, and other surfaces near Park Street station, an effort she described as “time-consuming.”
Rothberg, who had attended protest rallies held in the South End and in Dorchester last week but not Sunday evening’s rally, said she was sympathetic to the cause and simply wanted to find a way to help and to promote healing.
“Seeing the video of George Floyd was so upsetting and so frustrating, For me, I’m very hands-on and want to fix things. Fixing things in the bigger system is not easy, but I do think sometimes it’s a matter of shared experiences in a positive way that can bring people together.”