Following the Straight Pride Parade that took place at the end of August, some city councilors want to ban masks during protests.
On August 31, protests occurred in Downtown Boston during the controversial Straight Pride Parade. According to the Boston Police Department, officers were assaulted by masked protesters and nine people are facing related charges.
City Councilor Tim McCarthy said during the regular city council meeting this new ordinance is just “common sense” legislation and is about the safety for the Boston Police and residents.
“When does protesting that equals violence become society’s norm?” the councilor asked.
McCarthy pointed out that some protesters threw batteries and bottles filled with urine at police officers.
Critics of the proposed ordinance said it violates freedom of speech. “That is not first amendment speech, that is violence,” he said.
Councilor Frank Baker agreed. “When is that not ok? At what point is that not ok? When do we say enough is enough?” he asked.
Other councilors wanted to make sure if the new ordinance is passed that it is fair.
“If we are going to have a policy on this, it has to be neutral and enforced fairly,” said councilor Josh Zakim.
However, other councilors were concerned with how the police behaved during the protest. In a separate resolution, councilor Althea Garrison asked for the council to show support for the Boston Police Department.
“Assault against Boston Police officers must not be tolerated,” she said.
Not everyone agreed with her.
Councilors Lydia Edwards and Michelle Wu decided not to support the resolution. Edwards called police officers “superheroes” but worried about what the true intention behind the resolution was.
“I have seen the best come out of them when the worst comes out of society so I absolutely support them,” she said. “I don’t think this resolution is intended to support the police; I think it is intended to support a political agenda.”
Wu noted the LGBTQ community has a complicated history with police that has often led to violence and the council needs to understand the historical context.
Councilor Kim Janey called for a separate hearing to examine the conduct of the police during the protest along with arrests made and the use of riot gear.