SWAMPSCOTT, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — Discussions of vulgar and conspiracy-fueled protests took up a good portion of Swampscott's Select Board meeting on Wednesday. Community members expressed their frustration about frequent rallies that happen near Hadley Elementary School.
"We still respect everyone's right to protest," said one resident, "the thing that I am concerned with is that I've heard [them] saying very sexually inappropriate things to children. To me, that's a different kind of red flag."
Several residents made similar appeals on the stand, one claiming that they are more like hate rallies than protests.
"Many of us feel the same way about the vulgarity and indecency," said Town Administrator Sean Fitzgerald, "protests that are inciting hate, bigotry, and intolerance- those aren't values of Swampscott, and in fact, we've made it clear that we are a community that is welcoming and inclusive. We are taking steps to build a generation that sees Swampscott as a place where wonderful things happen."
But Fitzgerald said that despite his wishes to protect people from vulgar comments, there was not much the Board could do. Town Council advised the Board that they cannot curb free speech.
The acting police chief of Swampscott, David Kurz, spoke at the meeting and said that he and his department were not happy about the protests, but that there was little they could do to stop them. "My discussion with you starts off with a heading of frustration because that is what we are feeling at the police department," Kurz said, "we are trying to balance the right of free speech with [what] is considered to be obscene, and that is a moving target."
There have been charges filed in one situation of disturbing the peace.
Kurz said that if people have been threatened, they need to come forward.
WBZ's Karyn Regal (@Kayrnregal) reports.