Governor says he’ll even show up on Saturday if his schedule is clear
It was unlikely that either Boston Mayor Marty Walsh or Mass Governor Charlie Baker would say something remarkable or disappointing at their emergency presser on City Hall Plaza. Though both back certain policies, ideas, and companies that arguably buttress economic and racial disparity, I think that almost everyone of sane imagination can agree that neither is a white supremacist, and as such Charlie and Marty were expected to stand in front of microphones on Monday and lambaste President Donald Trump and his racist supporters, including those who swarmed on Charlottesville last weekend, as well as those who allegedly plan to bring some loathsome message or another to the Hub on Saturday.
There were very few surprises at the press availability. A large scrum of reporters from a range of outlets circled ’round, as Baker, Walsh, and law enforcement officials spoke with a gaggle of clergy and government workers behind them. All of the above condemned intolerance and bigotry, and unlike the president of the United States, said the sort of human things that you’re supposed to say in such a situation. Theatrics were kept to a minimum, as were many details, since even Boston Police Department Commissioner William Evans claimed to not yet know exactly who is planning the contested demonstration.
Prior to the dog and pony show of solidarity with Charlottesville, I ran into some activists who I have covered in the past. A few came down to City Hall not only for the speeches, but to find out if the state and municipal leaders on hand planned to show up at the counter-protests. As one experienced organizer put it, “We’re telling them to stand up to the white supremacists with us. Their high profile, and the media that their involvement will attract, would do a lot to make everyone there a lot safer.”
It’s probable that most of the electeds who were cheesing for the cameras on Monday will show up to repel hate on Saturday. Walsh implied that he’ll be present, while Boston City Councilor-at-Large Ayanna Pressley released a statement saying, “We will counter protest your actions with the collective conviction and vigilance necessary to see racial, social and economic justice realized.” In his turn, Baker acknowledged that “there are a lot of people in communities of color who think they are not being heard by [the Trump] administration,” said those voices “need to do something,” and suggested that anti-hate organizers use the term “unity rally,” rather than “counter-protest.” As for whether he will be there on the front lines along with them, the governor balked, “I actually don’t know what’s on my calendar Saturday, but if I can come, I will come.”
I don’t know what the gov has on his plate this weekend, but if it’s something like a golf outing with General Electric Chairman Jeff Immelt, who sits on President Trump’s advisory council for manufacturers, I sure hope that Baker realizes the potential impact that a well-liked sitting Republican governor can make by standing up to Trump’s minions and sycophants in person, and shows up for the unity rally he asked for.
A Queens, NY native who came to New England in 2004 to earn his MA in journalism at Boston University, Chris Faraone is the editor and co-publisher of DigBoston and a co-founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. He has published several books including 99 Nights with the 99 Percent, and has written liner notes for hip-hop gods including Cypress Hill, Pete Rock, Nas, and various members of the Wu-Tang Clan.