There’s a fine line between freedom of speech where one’s opinion is expressed during a peaceful protest and using hateful and inflammatory language to express one’s views.
Since implementing the city’s vaccine mandate for all indoor venues in boston Mayor Michelle Wu has been exposed to some vile language from a group of anti-vaxxers that have camped outside her home as well as City Hall.
One can argue the language used against the City’s first Asian-American female Mayor is not to express a point of view nor a disagreement with Wu’s policies but language intended to intimidate.
“To have a chance at healing and building community, we can’t keep normalizing hate,” Wu recently tweeted. “They’ve shouted on megaphones that my kids will grow up without a mom because I’ll be in prison. Yesterday at dinner my son asked who else’s birthday it was because the (morning) chant was “Happy Birthday, Hitler.”
Anti-vaxxers outside the Mayor’s home have also been heard yelling “communist c—” and a “piece of s—,” as she leaves for work in the morning and returns home at night.
At a recent press conference with Wu, City Councilor Ed Flynn, who was all too familiar with protesters outside his Southie home when his father, Ray, was Boston Mayor, said the attacks against Wu are different on many levels.
“The level of intensity that’s happening today wasn’t there when my father was there, and I honestly believe some of it is related to an anti-Asian sentiment that we have in this country,” he said.
Since announcing the mandate Wu has been quoting as saying, “There’s constant calls associating me with the same hateful racist xenophobic language that the former president used in describing the virus and its origins and who was to blame.”
Senator/City Councilor Lydia Edwards, who supported Wu for Mayor, was an early ally that jumped to the Mayor’s defense.
“Despite this recent rash of anger and hatred, the majority of people voted for Michelle (Wu), who supported this vaccine passport mandated when she was a candidate. So I believe the majority of people in Boston support what is going on.”
However, the hateful rhetoric hasn’t seemed to slow prompting a coalition of Boston elected officials of color to condemn the hate directed at Wu.
Last week a letter signed by Edwards, Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz; U.S. Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley; City Councilors Julia Mejia, Ruthzee Louijeune, Ricardo Arroyo, Kendra Lara, Brian Worrell and Tania Fernandes Anderson; Suffolk County District Attorney Kevin Hayden; Suffolk County Sheriff Steven Tompkins; as well as State Representatives Russell Holmes, Brandy Fluker Oakley, Chynah Tyler, Liz Miranda, Jon Santiago, and Nika Elugardo condemning the ongoing threats of violence and hateful attacks directed Wu.
“From the halls of Congress, to the steps of the State House, to the chamber of Boston City Hall, we must be unapologetic in rooting out white supremacy, racism, misogyny and hate in all of its forms,” read the letter. “Make no mistake, the relentless threats of violence and hateful attacks on Mayor Michelle Wu and her family have no place in our society and are a far cry from the political debate and peaceful dissent that is welcomed and necessary in a healthy democracy. Since beginning her term, Mayor Wu has met the moment and worked tirelessly to address many of the greatest challenges facing our communities—including combatting the ongoing pandemic that has robbed us of more than 1,600 lives across the City of Boston alone. It is due to her brave and steadfast leadership, her commitment to science and the public health—including her common-sense and life-saving vaccine mandates—that the City of Boston is making necessary progress to combat this pandemic and protect our most vulnerable.”
The group continued that to remain silent is to be complicit, and as elected officials of color across the City of Boston, they will not stand by and watch as openly racist, anti-Asian and sexist rhetoric is normalized in our community.
“This type of vitriol, toxicity and hate is far too common for women of color in politics, and we can’t help but wonder if the same toxicity and vitriol would be directed at a mayor who wasn’t a woman, a person of color, or an unapologetic history-maker like Mayor Wu is,” they wrote. “We stand in solidarity with her and call for an immediate end to this dangerous and hateful behavior.”
Wu said she knows the city is doing the right thing in order to curb the latest CVID surge.
“I won’t be intimidated out of doing the right thing,” she said.