About 40 people crammed into a small meeting space at the First Baptist Church in Jamaica Plain Monday night to begin organizing protests against the Boston Olympic bid.
The brief meeting served to introduce attendees—an array of residents from across Boston—to one another before they split into groups to strategize ways to protest against the Games, including rallies and outreach to the media and legislators. There are not yet any public plans for marches or demonstrations.
The meeting was organized by local privacy activist Kade Crockford and Robin Jacks, who was deeply involved with Occupy Boston. It was not officially affiliated with No Boston Olympics, the existing group that has been campaigning against the proposed 2024 Games. No Boston Olympics helped publicize the meeting, though, and co-chair Chris Dempsey was in attendance. After the meeting, Dempsey said he was “incredibly happy’’ with the turnout.
Members of the Boston 2024 committee, the group that is leading the charge to host the games, were also on-hand. Representatives—including Doug Rubin of Northwind Strategies, former Miami Dolphins executive Jim Rushton, and Boston 2024 Executive Vice President Erin Murphy—introduced themselves at the meeting’s outset, and were told they could stay.
The group gathered at a time in which Boston 2024 is facing criticism for not having scheduled any public meetings to discuss the bid before submitting it to the U.S. Olympic Committee. The bid is due Dec. 1. The USOC is expected to decide whether to move forward with a bid from either Boston, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, or Los Angeles later this winter. Should the USOC choose one of the four, the winning bid would be positioned to go in front of the International Olympic Committee against bids from around the world. The IOC would select a host city in 2017.
Boston 2024 has said it plans to hold public meetings about the bid eventually, and Boston Mayor Martin Walsh told NECN over the weekend that should the USOC choose Boston, the city will hold meetings as well. Boston 2024 has also recently begun accepting input from the public on its website. However, that doesn’t address the criticism that there should have been public discussions about whether to submit a bid in the first place.
Speaking after the meeting, Rubin said Boston 2024 did not have a clear timetable for when it may hold public meetings, but said he and the group hoped to provide one “very shortly.’’
Last month, John Fish—the CEO of Suffolk Construction, and the chair of Boston 2024—said he questioned the motives of those campaigning against the bid, telling The Boston Herald: “Who are they and what currency do they have? What have they done to help Boston, and help make the commonwealth of Massachusetts a better place? All of a sudden they want to rabble-rouse. I think these people are grandstanding.’’ He walked that back a bit last week, telling The Boston Globe: “I don’t want this to come across as ‘They can go pound sand. They absolutely have the right to do what they’re doing.’’
Boston 2024 says it plans to pay for the Olympics with $4.5 billion in private financing and another $5 billion or so in public spending on infrastructure improvements.