Boston elected officials decry police union for ‘personal’ tweet directed at Andrea Campbell

"This is nasty, personal, unprofessional and irrelevant to the conversation."

04/12/2021  BOSTON, MA   City Councilor Andrea Campbell (cq) spoke during a press conference outside Boston City Hall. (Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe)
City Councilor Andrea Campbell during a press conference last month outside Boston City Hall. –Aram Boghosian / The Boston Globe

Local elected officials of color are speaking out in force against the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association, after a dispute between the police union and City Councilor Andrea Campbell took a personal turn this week.

The back and forth began when the BPPA’s Twitter account criticized Campbell, an outspoken police reform advocate and chair of the City Council’s public safety committee, for her decision to hold up $1.2 million in grants for the Boston Police Department for additional review. Campbell, who is also running for mayor, had cited the need to reform the use of the police department’s controversial gang-fighting unit for the delay. However, amid a recent spate of shootings in Boston, the BPPA tweeted Wednesday that critics were “justifiably astonished” by the move.

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“Last I checked, we were still waiting to hear from @BostonPatrolmen on why they enabled and elevated an accused child molester,” Campbell tweeted in response, referring to former BPPA president Patrick Rose, who was allowed to stay on the force for decades despite allegations of sexually abusing children.

“Until then, don’t @ me,” she added.

Recently released files show that the BPPA had threatened in the 1990s to file a grievance on Rose’s behalf in order to keep him on patrol, even after internal investigators found he more than likely molested a child.

The BPPA shot back at Campbell on Thursday, accusing her of “hypocrisy.”

“There’s a lil’ saying about people who live in glass houses which seems incredibly appropriate at this time,” the union’s Twitter account wrote. “And, if I were you, when the topic of discussion turns to enabling criminals, you and your credibility would be best served by recusing yourself or @ nobody.”

Though not explicitly stated, the tweet appeared to a thinly veiled reference to Campbell’s older brother, Alvin, who is facing multiple rape charges for allegedly sexually assaulting and kidnapping women after posing as an Uber driver.

Campbell’s campaign said she won’t be responding to the BPPA’s tweet Thursday.

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The BPPA’s tweet did however elicit a wave of condemnation Friday and Saturday from other local Democrats in defense of Campbell. Rep. Ayanna Pressley called the tweet “absolutely unacceptable.” Acting Mayor Kim Janey, one of Campbell’s opponents in the race for a full term as mayor, also called out the union, known for his combative social media presence.

“These vicious personal attacks against @andreaforboston are abhorrent and cannot stand,” Janey wrote Saturday morning. “BPPA needs to stop them right now.”

City Councilors Lydia Edwards, Julia Mejia, and Ricardo Arroyo also ripped the BPPA’s “unprofessional” response Friday.

“This is nasty, personal, unprofessional and irrelevant to the conversation,” Edwards wrote, calling for an apology from the union.

City Councilor Michelle Wu, a fellow 2021 mayoral candidate, called the response “intolerable.”

BPPA President Larry Calderone did not response to a request for comment Friday.

In an appearance earlier this week on WBZ radio, Calderone called the charges against Rose, who retired in 2018, “heinous,” “revolting,” “disgusting,” and “embarrassing” for the union and police department. He added that no one in the BPPA’s “current leadership” was aware of the allegations against Rose.

Following her brother’s first arrest in 2020, Campbell said she was “extremely heartbroken and saddened and devastated” by the allegations and was “thinking about the victim who had the courage to come forward.” The city councilor, whose twin brother died in state custody in 2012, has often spoken about working to break cycles of poverty and trauma.

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