BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — The Boston City Council voted to pass an ordinance that restricts targeted protests in residential areas.
The ordinance, initially introduced by Mayor Michelle Wu, restricts "targeted residential picketing" between the hours of 9 p.m. and 9 a.m. Targeted residential picketing is defined as picketing, protesting, or demonstrating against one or more residents of a particular residence.
The ordinance passed 9 to 4, with Councilors Ricardo Arroyo, Kenzie Bok, Liz Breadon, Lydia Edwards, Tania Fernandes Anderson, Michael Flaherty, Ed Flynn, Ruthzee Louijeune, and Brian Worrell voting in favor of the ordinance.
Once the ordinance is signed by Mayor Wu, targeted residential picketing will only be allowed between the hours of 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. Any targeted picketing outside of those 12 hours will result in a fine.
Mayor Wu filed the ordinance in February, after facing months of protests at her own home against the city's COVID regulations. When announcing the ordinance, Mayor Wu said the goal was to protect the right to protest while also preventing harassment.
"Boston has a strong legacy of activism, and it’s important to uphold and protect the ability to speak out and advocate fiercely to keep our democracy strong,” the Mayor said. “But in a moment of divided national politics, we can’t normalize the harassment and hate spilling over into our communities. Boston must model not only bold, urgent policies, but also inclusive, empowering politics.”
Councilor Arroyo, who faced protests at his and his mother's home over COVID regulations, echoed the mayor's thoughts after the ordinance passed the council.
“This ordinance balances the needs of our residents to have an expectation of privacy and peace in their homes in the early morning hours with the right to protest,” Arroyo said. “It is narrowly tailored with reasonable limitations on time, place, and manner of speech while being content-neutral.”
Shana Cottone, the president of Boston First Responders United, a group that protested outside the mayor's home against her vaccine mandate for city workers, said her organization plans to sue the city if the ordinance is passed.
"This is targeted towards a particular group of people with a particular message and the evidence will bear that out in court," Cottone said. "It's sad that we have to do this again and that she just will not listen to the will of the people, but this has been a consistent theme throughout her short mayorship which is why we had to show up at her house in the first place."
The ordinance now heads to the Mayor's desk.