In February, Mayor Michelle Wu filed an ordinance that targeted residential picketing
On March 14, the City Council Committee on Government Operations held a hearing to discuss an ordinance that Mayor Michelle Wu had filed on February 28. This legislation was an “Ordinance Regarding Targeted Residential Picketing, adding parameters to protect the health and well-being of residents in our neighborhoods against targeted harassment. Targeted residential picketing means picketing, protesting, or demonstrating, with or without signs or sound amplification, that is specifically directed towards a particular residence or one or more occupants of the residence, and which takes place before or about the targeted residence. The ordinance would restrict targeted residential picketing only between the hours of 9:00pm and 9:00am, and would not affect marches or protests passing through residential areas that are not targeted at a particular home.”
For months, there have been demonstrations outside of Wu’s home, with protestors responding to a mandate that City workers be vaccinated, among other requirements. In a WBUR article, Wu said that she supports free speech but does not think her neighbors should be subjected to the “stress and disturbance” that the protests have caused. City councilors will have to discuss the ordinance in a working session before taking a vote on it. Already, some councilors have expressed concerns about it, stating that the enforcement of the ordinance could impact communities of color.
When the ordinance was first filed by Wu, she spoke to her hope to address what she called “harassment”:
“Boston has a strong legacy of activism, and it’s important to uphold and protect the ability to speak out and advocate fiercely to keep our democracy strong,” said Wu. “But in a moment of divided national politics, we can’t normalize the harassment and hate spilling over into our communities. Boston must model not only bold, urgent policies, but also inclusive, empowering politics.”
Shira Laucharoen is a reporter based in Boston. She currently serves as the assistant director of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. In the past she has written for Sampan newspaper, The Somerville Times, Scout Magazine, Boston Magazine, and WBUR.