2 people removed from City Council meeting on protest law

"You have your right to your opinion, not to disrupt."

Lane Turner/Globe Staff
Lane Turner/Globe Staff

Two people were escorted by police out of the Boston City Council chamber on Wednesday following outbursts from both as Councilor Ricardo Arroyo gave an overview of a controversial proposal to limit when demonstrators can protest outside residences.

Council President Ed Flynn ordered both removed from the council meeting after each individual, separately, interrupted. Flynn had warned at the onset of Wednesday’s meeting that interruptions would not be tolerated.

The commotion came as Arroyo, chair of the council’s Committee on Government Operations, updated his colleagues on where in the process officials stood on reviewing Mayor Michelle Wu’s proposal to seek limits on when protests can take place in residential areas.


The law, if passed, would prohibit protests outside individual, specifically-targeted homes overnight and in the early morning hours between 9 p.m. and 9 a.m. The legislation would apply to any home, not only those belonging to elected officials, and would not impact marches or demonstrations that are moving through an area.

Wu filed the law as protesters have descended on her Roslindale home since January, speaking out against a COVID-19 vaccine mandate Wu has sought for city employees.

Protests have started as early as 7 a.m. with drums and whistles, which Wu and other officials have said unfairly impact the surrounding neighborhood.

At an initial hearing on Monday, councilors had mixed support for the proposal, with some concerned whether it would unconstitutionally restrict First Amendment rights. Some have also asked whether the city could enforce its existing noise ordinance instead of writing a new ordinance into law.

In summary remarks Wednesday, Arroyo, who expressed support for the measure, said that several councilors noted the fact “that this ordinance was not introduced in a void, but rather in the context of hateful extended attacks in the mayor’s residential neighborhood.”

Soon after Arroyo, also a candidate for Suffolk County district attorney, began speaking, a woman interrupted him, stating that demonstrations are “a constitutional right.”


“This shouldn’t even be heard,” she said. “This is unconstitutional.”

Following a brief recess, during which the woman was removed from the meeting, Arroyo continued speaking before being interrupted again a minute later.

“This is not American,” the man who interrupted said.

“Excuse me, that’s your warning, sir,” Flynn responded, after banging is gavel. “Please do not disrupt this hearing.”

“You have your right to your opinion, not to disrupt,” Flynn continued, as the man kept speaking.

With the man not acquiescing, Flynn ordered he be escorted out, and the meeting continued after another brief recess.

Arroyo said councilors, who under council rules must act on the measure before May 2, are requesting to hear from the city’s law and police departments about outstanding questions they have regarding the proposal.

For that reason, the matter will remain in committee for the time being.

In January, a group of protesters interrupted lawmakers and refused to adhere to City Hall’s mask policy. Councilors ultimately opted to move their meeting online.

Demonstrators had previously disrupted press conferences and the council’s swearing-in ceremony earlier this year over Wu’s sought after employee vaccine mandate.

On Wednesday, after the interrupting individuals were removed, Councilor Lydia Edwards thanked Flynn for enforcing the rules.


“I think people forget the job of the president is to not only keep the meeting moving, but (also) to protect the body and make sure that democracy is happening,” she said.


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