BOSTON (CBS) – It was a jarring sight in a city where most of the political establishment is vehemently opposed to just about everything Attorney General William Barr and the Trump administration stand for – the AG and Boston Police Commissioner William Gross grinning side by side during an impromptu visit by Barr to Boston.

And it touched off scathing reactions from, among others, City Councillor Andrea Campbell, who wrote: “to see our Police Commissioner shoulder-to-shoulder with someone who has enabled a lawless, racist president is not just disappointing, it’s disturbing.”

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Added City Councillor Michelle Wu: “‘This is a disgrace to our city and a breach of trust to our communities.”

Gross issued a statement reading in part: “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.”

But in a WBZ-TV interview taped Friday morning, Mayor Marty Walsh made his disapproval of the meeting and irritation with Gross clear.

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“I advised against [the meeting] because of what the attorney general and the Trump administration stand for,” says Walsh, who added he would not have met with Barr had he been asked to because “he has a general lack of respect for people and their rights, and they’re a danger to our country.”

Attorney General William Barr and Boston Police Commissioner William Gross (Photo credit: Department of Justice)

Walsh says Gross told him the photo was a surprise. Given the obvious desire of the president to blunt his decline in the polls by being seen reaching out to African-Americans even as he defends the police, we wondered: did Gross get used for a political photo-op?

“That’s a question you’ll have to ask the Commissioner,” says Walsh.

In a press release Friday night, the Department of Justice said the purpose of Barr’s visit was, “to show the Administration’s strong support for law enforcement and seek the input of police leadership on a range of issues, including President Trump’s recent Executive Order on Safe Policing for Safe Communities, as well as other issues involving community relations, use of force, officer training, and officer wellness.”

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You can watch the interview this Sunday at 8:30 a.m. on the WBZ-TV Morning News.

Jon Keller