The City Council agreed today to hold a hearing on the annual Freedom Rally on Boston Common and whether it can be turned into a less of a mess or whether the three-day event has to be moved somewhere else.
City Councilor Josh Zakim (Beacon Hill, Back Bay, Fenway, Mission Hill) said he is a longtime supporter of liberalization of marijuana laws, but said he is just getting too many complaints about trash and cars parked on the Common during the annual September event - far more complaints than he said he gets about any other event on the Common, "one of the jewels of our city."
He said the hearing, which has yet to be scheduled, would look to see if there's a way to balance the First Amendment rights of Freedom Fest-goers with qualty-of-life issues raised by surrounding residents. He noted that one issue is all the toking up - smoking, of whatever substance, is illegal in Boston parks, including the Common.
"This is not about being for or against marijuana, said City Councilor Ed Flynn (Downtown, South Boston, South End, Chinatown), who co-sponsored the hearing request with Zakim. Flynn said both the Common and the Public Garden clean and safe for both Freedom Rally attendees and children, families, seniors, neighbors and tourists visiting "the oldest public space in the country."
No councilors spoke against the idea of a hearing or against the annual event.