Several Boston City Councilors are speaking out against the conviction of Boston’s head of tourism Ken Brissette for extortion and conspiracy, and Boston’s head of intergovernmental affairs Tim Sullivan for conspiracy in the 2014 Boston Calling music festival.
The two have been declared guilty of pressuring festival organizers to hire union workers by threatening the festival could lose city permits. According to the Boston Globe, prosecutors said Brissette and Sullivan were trying to preserve Mayor Walsh’s political image as a labor-friendly mayor.
City Councilor Lydia Edwards, who represents District One (North End, Charlestown and East Boston), organized a demonstration on Wednesday, calling the prosecutions a “terrible precedent” for future advocacy by government officials and community activists.
Read the Boston City Councilors’ statement on this decision below, from the Office of Councilor Edwards.
In the wake of the recent Boston Calling verdict, we are compelled to speak out about our role as City Councilors and our enduring commitment to fight for social inclusion and economic dignity.
The decision of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts to push this case was a grievous misuse of limited prosecutorial resources in service of a misguided political agenda. This case sets a terrible precedent where government officials who personally received nothing of value can nonetheless face criminal penalties for advocacy that federal prosecutors deem too aggressive. Attempts to criminalize advocacy can only serve to advance the interests of those seeking a society that is less equal and less fair.
Voters sent us to public office to take on issues such as housing affordability, good jobs, environmental protection, civil rights and public safety. As public officials, it is our job to speak up daily for the constituencies we represent. Our duty to do so is even greater when public land or public resources are at stake. As residents call for action on the issues that affect their quality of life and well-being, we will continue to use our voices to address these concerns.
It is fundamental that city business should be transparent, accessible, and fairly administered according to the laws that hold public officials accountable. As Councilors, we also have an obligation to shape the laws. We will redouble our efforts by advancing clear and compelling standards for how we expect business to be conducted in the City of Boston and by writing and debating legislation to attack inequality and protect the public good. Every public employee should feel empowered by these laws to advocate for all people to have a place in our city and full opportunities to thrive.
Councilor Lydia Edwards
Councilor Frank Baker
Councilor Andrea Campbell
Councilor Annissa Essaibi-George
Councilor Michael Flaherty
Councilor Ed Flynn
Councilor Kim Janey
Councilor Timothy McCarthy
Councilor Michelle Wu
Councilor Josh Zakim