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Who are the hundreds of "Free Karen Read" supporters gathered outside Massachusetts courthouse awaiting a verdict?

Karen Read involved in tense moment with judge while jurors deliberate
Karen Read involved in tense moment with judge while jurors deliberate 03:34

DEDHAM - People from across the country have gathered outside Norfolk Superior Court in Dedham, Massachusetts to share their support for Karen Read, a woman most of them have never met.

Many are dressed in pink or wearing "Free Karen Read" t-shirts or costumes. They're anxiously waiting for a verdict in her trial. Read is charged with second-degree murder in the death of her boyfriend, Boston Police officer John O'Keefe. Read, who has pleaded, not guilty, says she's being framed.

Read has had supporters outside the court throughout the trial, but the crowd grew considerably on Tuesday as the jury began deliberations. According to WBZ-TV's Penny Kmitt, at least 250 people were outside the court when Read arrived in the morning. 

Their phones were out capturing every step of the defendant on the day six men and six women started deliberating Read's fate.  

"And I wonder how many other people have gone through this," said Rita Lombardi, a Read supporter. "I wonder!"

Karen Read supporters
Supporters of Karen Read listen to proceedings from Read's trial from a laptop computer while gathered a block away from Norfolk Superior Court June 25 2024, in Dedham. Steven Senne / AP

Her supporters have never bought the prosecution's case saying Read hit O'Keefe with her SUV on January 29, 2022 then left him to die in a snowstorm outside a home in Canton. They believe the defense's case that she was framed by crooked cops.

"The not guilty verdict. I want to be right here for the celebration. I can't celebrate at home by myself," Read supporter Joanne Harrington told WBZ-TV. "I'm with everybody who have found Karen to be not guilty."

"Free Karen Read"

The chants, the signs, the cars, even the umbrellas, all saying the same thing - "Free Karen Read." Supporters from Massachusetts and as far away as Tennessee and Michigan are waiting outside the courthouse for the verdict, however long it takes.

"We're just anxiously waiting the jury to come back and proclaim her innocence," said a Read supporter who only wanted to be identified as Catherine.

Karen Read supporters
Eva Jenkins, of Bourne, left, a supporter of Karen Read, a block away from Norfolk Superior Court, Tuesday, June 25, 2024, in Dedham. Steven Senne / AP

Throughout the trial, supporters have been kept back from the courthouse by a "buffer zone" put in place in an effort to maintain an unbiased jury. The jury meets in a separate location and are bused to the courthouse.

"I support Karen Read but I really hope that this kind of thing expands out into other parts of the community," Artemis Boynton told WBZ.

Karen Read supporter details "A wild experience"

A woman named Dina said people are coming from far and wide to be outside the courthouse. 

"They're coming from everywhere. North Carolina, South Carolina, Michigan, Utah, Alabama, New York, Rhode Island, there was a Connecticut,"she said. "I can't even name them all. People are flying in. People want change, they want hope and they want change."

Many plan to be in attendance every day until a verdict is announced.

"People show up and it's like one big happy family. They're at home watching everybody. And it's like, by the time you get here it's like you know everybody. It's been a wild experience," Mike Brooks said.

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