The Boston City Council today passed an ordinance that would ban people from regularly swarming a particular person's house to scream and make noise between the hours of 9 p.m. and 9 a.m. by a 9-4 vote.
Councilors who voted for the proposal said the goal is to provide neighbors and families of public officials some measure of peace from protests they didn't sign up for. The measure now goes to Mayor Wu, who will likely sign it, since it was her office that proposed it - based on ten weeks of early morning protesting outside her Roslindale house, initially over Covid-19 issues, more recently over outdoor dining in the North End.
Councilor Ricardo Arroyo called the measure very narrowly targeted, that it still lets protesters and screamers and bucket bangers do their thing 12 hours of the day, just not first thing in the morning.
"I don't think this is just about the mayor," supporter Tania Fernandes Anderson (Roxbury) said. She and Councilors Ricardo Arroyo and Ed Flynn pointed to similar protests outside Arroyo's mother's house and Flynn's house.
Fernandes Anderson was, however, responding directly to Frank Baker (Dorchester) who went on a verbal rampage about what he claimed was harassment outside his house for months in 2020 and who then attempted to compare the protests outside Wu's house with what rioting in the Back Bay after one particular George Floyd protest in 2020.
Baker said the measure came about only because "the Left" is now in charge and doesn't like protests against them. He said he had fireworks thrown at his house and people calling him at all hours to scream at him that he was a "scumbag" in 2020 and yet, nobody on the council rose to his defense.
"Nobody gave two shits about me and my family!" he said. And when "the Left" ran amok after that George Floyd protest, nobody was arrested even as Newbury Street was destroyed, he said, pointing at Councilor Kenzie Bok, who represents that street as if it were somehow her fault. And Boston had like 20 sports-championship victory celebrations without problems, but now "the Left" is outraged about one woman, he continued. And yet that one woman "is still twitting around and everything else" and fully protected by Boston Police. But "now that it's happening to the Left, we're going to change the rules."
Kendra Lara (West Roxbury, Jamaica Plain) rebutted that, in fact, 53 people were arrested that night. None of the councilors noted the death of Victoria Snelgrove during one of those victory celebrations. Bok rose to say she was, in fact, quite upset by what happened on Newbury Street, but that what happened after the George Floyd is "quite distinct" from the activities that would be covered by the ordinance.
Fernandes Anderson said what happened to Baker was terrible, but that it just shows the need for efforts to protect officials, their families and neighbors, not a reason to lash out against such efforts. She paraphrased James Baldwin that "they come for you in the night, they'll come for us in the morning."
In addition to Baker, Councilors Erin Murphy (at large), Julia Mejia (at large) and Lara voted against. Mejia and Lara had previously expressed concern that the measure could be used against Black and Brown protesters even if they have not targeted specific houses in the past.
Under the proposed ordinance, violators would be fined $50 for the first occurrence, $150 for the second and $300 for the third and subsequent offenses. The clock would reset after 12 months for individuals, Arroyo said, adding that the measure would prohibit police from adding the names of any people cited under the measure to the BPD database used to track gang members.
Flynn called two brief recesses during the discussion on the proposal to have two people ejected for starting to yell at councilors.