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Boston City Council Considers Mask Ban

Some members of the Boston City Council are considering a ban on wearing masks during protests and in other public spaces.

The council held a hearing earlier this week to discuss the proposed ordinance. The potential new changes come after counter protests to the Straight Pride Parade in August where more than a dozen protesters were arrested.

“What they’re doing is not speech,” said Councilor Tim McCarthy. “They are using force and violence; that is not protected.”

Protesters during the Straight Pride parade in August.

Boston Police Superintendent William Ridge said when protesters where masks they become more confident to do things they may otherwise not if their faces were revealed.

“We become targets,” he said about police.

Councilor Ed Flynn said public safety is the biggest priority for everyone including protesters, tourists, and police officers.

 “There is a role for protesting in our city and when protesting does take place there should be rules that everyone follows,” he said.

Ridge said masks also make it more challenging to identify those who break the law during these type of protests.

“We’re not able to identify them because we’ve got a lot of different people with their masks on,” he said. “So it’s an ongoing problem. It’s an officer safety problem and it’s of great concern to us.”

He also said some groups are working together and bringing in weapons like batons to use at these protests and are almost always masked.

However, other councilors were worried about how this new law would affect communities of color. Councilor Kim Janey pointed out that many young athletes wear hoods while they are working out or playing their sport. Hoods would be prohibited in the new law if passed.

“I worry that our young people who are athletes or who jog or play sports, or whatever they’re doing could get caught up in such a law,” she said.

Councilor Lydia Edwards believes those who protest peacefully while wearing a mask shouldn’t be punished.

“It’s about where we draw the line,” she said. “I am really curious to hear about where we draw the line between someone who is protesting peacefully while wearing a mask and someone who intends to do something while wearing a mask.”

“Why and how would we prohibit that? I am confused on how we draw that line,” she added about masked peaceful protestors.

Ridge said he understands that not everyone who wears a mask is planning on being violent.

The ordinance will stay in committee.

11 Replies to “Boston City Council Considers Mask Ban

  1. Maybe the councilors should spend a day on crowd control duty. Police are there because the City wants them there.

    1. A city that still doesn’t have any regulations against the use of facial recognition technology by police.

  2. There is a galvanizing power behind wearing masks. Aside of facing the threat of arrest, masks serve a higher ideological purpose. The masks makes for a collective identity and for sure offers the sense that the rising oppressed are omnipresent.

  3. Enough with the masks in today’s day and age you need to know who’s under them we can’t be too safe

  4. The only logical reason to why protesters would wear a mask is they do not want to be identified . If a guy walks into a bank wearing a ski mask the odds are pretty high that he’s about to rob the joint.

    1. Afraid that someone will recognize him kick his A the next time they spot him without his gang to protect him. This is why the Ku Klux Klan wears them. When my Mom was a kid her mother used to look at their shoes to identify them. The old ladies in the neighborhood figured they recognized a set of shoes as belonging to a merchant in the neighborhood and they ran him out. Those guys in the masks better not have designer sneakers or someone is liable to get them.

  5. 7 US states and 15 foreign countries have banned masks. My above comment was to point out the psychological benefits of protestors donning them.

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