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In a city known around the world for protesters who hid their identities to throw tea in the harbor, city councilors to consider regulation to ban protesters from wearing masks

Rightwing protest on Common last year

Masked right-wing protester at demonstration for immmigrant rights on the Common, 6/30/18.

Boston city councilors agreed today to consider drafting an ordinance that would prohibit protesters from wearing masks or other identity-hiding disguises at political protests - with the proviso that exemptions be considered for religious or medical reasons.

Councilor Tim McCarthy (Hyde Park, Mattapan, Roslindale) pointed to the masks he said protesters against white nationalists wore during and after the pro-Trump Aug. 31 march and rally. He said that when protesters hide their identities while packing razors and other weapons and keys to undo handcuffs, "these aren't the norms of our society." He said what happened on Congress Street "is not First Amendment speech, that is violence."

Many of the people arrested that day, however, were not masked.

Even Councilor Josh Zakim (Fenway, Mission Hill, Back Bay, Beacon Hill), long considered one of the council's most active civil-rights activists, said he would be willing to consider such a measure, provided it could be enforced fairly against all protesters, not just against people voicing a particular viewpoint.

For example, while McCarthy is only angry with left-wing protesters, these masked right-wing protesters at a June 30, 2018 march on the Common for immigrant rights, who were surrounded by police to keep them separated from immigrant activists:

Right wingers in masks

Zakim said he had serious reservations at first when he read McCarthy's proposal, and noted that anonymity has been part of some Boston protests dating back to the Tea Party. But he said that after doing some historical and legal research, he discovered that many existing anti-mask laws elsewhere came as a reaction to violent protests by the Ku Klux Klan.

Although he did not formally "sponsor" McCarthy's measure, as other councilors did, he said he would love to take part in discussions - as long as they are about the issue in general and not cast solely as a reaction to the Aug. 31 incident.

At the pro-immigrant rally, police eventually escorted the masked right wingers off the Common and then used bicycles to block Bowdoin Street on the side of the State House so that they could disappear:

Right wingers in masks
Right wingers in masks

Councilor Lydia Edwards (East Boston, North End Charlestown), also noted the anti-Klan nature of many existing anti-mask laws, and cautioned that simply banning masks wouldn't be enough. She noted the right winger recently ordered sent away for using a car to murder a protester in Charlottesville, VA did not wear a mask - and neither did the people who participated in the anti-Semitic tiki torch parade before Heather Heyer was murdered.

Both Zakim and Councilor Annissa Essaibi-George said it would be important that any ordinance respect people who cover their faces for religious or medical reasons. "I worry about the role of religious attire" being affected by any law, Essaibi-George, whose father emigrated here from Tunisia, said.

The council formally sent McCarthy's proposal to the council Committee on Public Safety, which he chairs. The next steps will be for him to set a date for a hearing at which experts and members of the public can testify. The committee would then draft a proposed ordinance for the full council to consider.



When protests are about situations in other countries, protesters may need to hide their identities to protect the safety of their families back in that country and themselves. There should be a way to apply for an exemption for such protests, especially now that cell phones are everywhere.


So long as a mask is not being used to impersonate someone, anyone participating in a public event, be it a protest or a Super Bowl rally, should be able to use a mask or make-up. The risk is no different than wearing a mask any other time. And, yeah, people do wear masks at other times. Just ask the guy dressed as a hot dog handing out menus, or the attendees at Comic Con.

Given the ubiquity of cameras now, people may have good reasons to want to obscure their identity, whether it's at a student with an anti-gay family who wants to march in the Pride parade, or someone calling in sick to protest for living wages.

Of course, there will be problems. There isn't a perfect solution here. And every time there is a problem, people will complain one way or another.

But dressing as Pikachu, or wearing an Obama mask, or donning a Dogon mask for a Malinese religious ritual, or obscuring your face with a scarf, falls solidly into protected 1st Amendment territory.


"But dressing as Pikachu, or wearing an Obama mask, or donning a Dogon mask for a Malinese religious ritual, or obscuring your face with a scarf, falls solidly into protected 1st Amendment territory."

Yes it does. I think the issue here is when people wearing masks think they can get away with committing crimes because they can't be identified. So, up the ante.

Wear a mask? Do no harm. Wear a mask and assault someone? Jail, swampy.

Yeah, if you assault someone, you may be arrested, whether or not you're wearing a mask. No argument from me.

I don't think the mask itself should up the ante, even as I do recognize that a mask can make an arrest harder. First, as far as I know, neither the states nor the feds escalate charges based on wearing a mask in the way that charges are escalated for being armed, as is done for robberies; if you have conflicting information, please share, maybe I missed something, and I do note that impersonating someone else can result in a higher charge.

The problem with upping the ante is that many, many valid reasons exist to have all or part of one's face obscured. Some people wear surgical masks when they have a cold. Some people wear burkas. I wear a merino balaklava when I run in the winter, as well as my glasses-- my own sister didn't recognize me at Franklin Park.

So, think about it this way-- the Women's March was in January of 2017, the middle of winter. What if a fracas had broken out somewhere, whether among the marchers or the counter protestors? The suspects are hauled before a magistrate, and the people wearing scarves in January receive a more serious charge than the people who weren't. The people wearing burkas receive a more serious charge than the people who were not. Everyone is presumed innocent (or should be) at this point, but we're already laying heavier charges and potentially greater legal expenses on people who, for any reason, had their faces obscured.

"Some people wear surgical masks when they have a cold. Some people wear burkas...."

Medical reasons, religious reasons are all irrelevant to my argument. You can wear anything you want to cover your face, be it weather related, health related, religious or you just want to really look like Richard Nixon that day.
If it looks like you'll be involved in a fracas, well, no fracasing while you're masked. Take it off. Or, cross the street. See my quote from the Herald further down from one of those antifa idiots, for a reasonable explanation of my argument about upping the ante if you commit a crime while masked.

If you’re going to invent straw leftists to prove your idiotic point, at least have the decency to arm them with something more menacing than safety razors and handcuff keys. You can get those through a TSA checkpoint, Tim, and all those riot cops are packing heat—better accuse the protesters of wielding actual weapons, lest you be accused of not toeing the thin blue line.

Also, don’t let the door hit you on the way out, asshole.


blah blah blah Bike Locks™️

- every reactionary chud on here


...when an esteemed professor got lugged for assaulting someone with a bike lock. Moved to Portland.

I hope that the authorities will not tolerate such nonsense here.

Here's one for ya, music man:

Hit me with your bike lock
Why don't you hit me with your bike lock
Hit me with your bike lock
Fire away

apologies to Pat Benetar.

Well, except in Halloween iii. Seriously, this is a stupid, stupid idea. I hope it goes nowhere. Is there a "windchill exemption"?


I wonder why they consider the existing law insufficient?

The solution is to make it an enhancer for disorderly conduct. disturbing the peace and assault and battery. Make it a higher fine or longer "sentence" that nobody will get. The armed robbery while masked law is just an added few words to the existing armed robbery law, see below. Rollins won't prosecute anyway since disorderly, disturbing and a&b are on her list. Here's a blueprint.

Section 17. Whoever, being armed with a dangerous weapon, assaults another and robs, steals or takes from his person money or other property which may be the subject of larceny shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for life or for any term of years; provided, however, that any person who commits any offence described herein while masked or disguised or while having his features artificially distorted shall, for the first offence be sentenced to imprisonment for not less than five years and for any subsequent offence for not less than ten years.


...until cops lose their "you called me a pig so I'm arresting you and charging you with whateverthefuckIwantto" unlimited free hits.

I'd ask you how that boot tastes, but I know that in your fevered imagination, you're wearing it instead of eating it.


Exception for religious reasons is even stupider.


Exception for religious reasons is even stupider.

Why, exactly?

We permit many behaviors that present a risk, if not an outright threat, to other people: driving motor vehicles, carrying weapons, not vaccinating your children. Wearing a mask or face covering of any kind, including a veil, presents no risk to anyone. None. You do not become more capable of doing harm because you are wearing it.

"You do not become more capable of doing harm because you are wearing it."

It reinforces the notion that you can get away with it. Unfortunately, that notion is correct most of the time.

It reinforces the notion that you can get away with it.

Maybe, in your mind (guilty conscience?). But one does not become more capable of doing harm because one is wearing a mask. That is fact, not opinion.

If you are unable to see the difference between what I said and what you said, you need to go back to grade school.

"Maybe, in your mind (guilty conscience?). But one does not become more capable of doing harm because one is wearing a mask. That is fact, not opinion."

Actually, it's just an opinion, not a fact. Me? Not a guilty conscience. I don't generally wear a mask. But, let me defer to an expert in the matter...a true Freedom Fighter and stalwart defender of the First Amendment.

“We’re covered in black so when we attack these guys we can’t be prosecuted,” said Jon Crowley, an Antifa member who told the Herald that he felt violence was the only way to deal with the people marching in the parade, which went from Copley Square to City Hall Plaza. “They are fascists, 100%. How else are you going to get them to shut up?”

Out of the mouths of morons...


Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 268 Section 34.

Whoever disguises himself with intent to obstruct the due execution of the law, or to intimidate, hinder or interrupt an officer or other person in the lawful performance of his duty, or in the exercise of his rights under the constitution or laws of the commonwealth, whether such intent is effected or not, shall be punished by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars or by imprisonment for not more than one year and may if imprisoned also be bound to good behavior for one year after the expiration of such imprisonment.

Has nothing to do with wearing a mask to peacefully protest.



Make it an add-on to whatever the underlying crime is. Assaulting a cop? OK. While masked? Felony assault. Disturbing the peace? Minor bust. While masked? Upgraded to a felony.

Sure, peacefully, no problem. The guy in the red snot-rag got busted for assaulting an officer.
Sometimes wearing a mask in public is OK. There are definitely 1st amendment issues here. So, wear the masks all you want. No harm, no foul. Cross the line? Get into a situation where you get arrested? Don't be wearing a mask.

Peaceably assemble in a properly permitted parade? Fine. Wear a mask, it's OK. Just don't break the law.
Peaceably assemble to protest the parade? Fine. Wear a mask, it's OK. Just don't break the law.

If it was so peaceful, why was there a problem? And does anybody seriously think they will be fired for protesting against bigots? The only reason for wearing masks is sheer cowardice, or planning to cause trouble with the excuse of protesting. And the argument that the people throwing the tea in the harbor are somehow a good example that we should follow is ridiculous. The tea protesters were also all white males, because they were the only ones allowed to participate. And they dressed up as Indians. Would that seriously fly now????

The right wing morons didn't deserve any attention. what a shame that these masked weenies gave it to them.

Hi, Adam (and friends), I wonder if the pictures here are sort of misleading--because they suggest that the Boston City Council's action is in response to such masked right-wing protesters. (Acknowledging that I posted photos of these same protesters in a previous post to make, I think, a similar point.) https://www.universalhub.com/2019/councilor-wants-rip-mask-protesters

I'm not sure the best way to illustrate this issue, but I think the pictures here are misleading because the councilor is not trying to ban masks because of repeated protests by masked right-wing protesters against immigrants, women, etc. (Or because of protests by masked KKK.) The councilor hasn't complained about these repeated high profile actions by masked right-wingers. Who were given special protection by police at all these events:

Rather the councilor stated he wants to ban masked protesters because he's upset at left-wing counter protesters to the Trump/Straight Pride Parade who clashed with police. He wants to ban masking at protests because "the Boston Herald witnessed protesters in altercations with police and one self-identified member of the hardleft group."

It's an anti-left action in liberal Boston. The pictures suggest the opposite.

Maybe I should have done a better job explaining why I ran those photos, alas, but:

This proposal and the proposal about pledging "unwavering" support to the police and the BPPA came out of the events after the white-supremacist rally on City Hall Plaza a couple of weeks ago. McCarthy, Baker and Garrison are all "police under attack by Antifa" and McCarthy and Baker, at least, just can't stop talking about bottles of urine.

The Herald has jumped on the bandwagon, natch, and so you've now got an entire chorus of people screaming about Antifa and bottles of urine. And you're right, these three councilors (one of whom will not be in office on Jan. 1, another of whom with any luck will not be in office on Jan. 1 and a third who will be in office on Jan. 1 because nobody is running against them), are pretty explicitly anti-left in general when it comes to this.

But, in fact, it's a two-way street - when it suits them, white nationalists are just as happy to put masks on. And that's what I was trying to show.

As Zakim said, if you pass a law to ban masks, you need to ensure it's applied equally, and it's not just people on the left who want to hide their identity, even if they are the ones who might wear them because they have to worry more about death threats and the like.


As in a number of other existing circumstances, simply enforce the existing law.

You started an important conversation on public safety (to support a law we already have) and simultaneously managed to trigger every woke, anti-police, thin-skinned, antifa, crybaby in the entire UHub readership land.

Trigger level = expert

Well done sir, well done.

Maybe even bring some tea chests.

In the age of doxxing (posting name/address/etc), death threats, online harassment.... masks make more sense than ever. Some MAY be worried about police/gov but I wear a mask simply from what I have seen happen to people online from people I disagree with.

With simple social engineering it is not hard to get into someones accounts and delete their whole online presence... every account, tweet, picture, song, page, email or anything online... GONE.

That might seem like a silly thing to some people here, but I been on the internet for 22 years now and although I protect myself properly, it only takes one smooth talker on the phone with tech support with just some basic info about you they have skimmed off of an online profile.

An article how this happens from a bit back, but still relevant. Happened to Wired magazine tech guy by some kid.

"I've got a prescription for that mask, officer."

And are getting elected president and shit, now it's suddenly time to ban masks.


Should it say "person protesting the right wing?" The headline is saying that the person is a member of the right wing who is also a protester.

Please don't insult anyone's intelligence by comparing Antifa with the "Sons of Liberty"

One was fighting for just folks to do things such as protest, speak publicly about unpopular topics, worship at will, and in general for "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" for all.

The other actually would like to suppress people who's views they disagree with using force against their opponents and the police when the feeling moves them.

One group got into disguise [as Native Americans] because the simple act of throwing tea in the harbor could subject them to the death penalty if they were identified and later arrested -- the Tea ultimately belonged to the King of England via the Royal Chartered East India Company

Antifa gets disguised so that "Trust Fund Babies" can act as if they were playing with toy soldiers ---- except that they doing their hitting, shoving and spitting at ordinary citizens and in many cases law enforcement officers.

In one case "Sam Adams" was disguised so that he could throw King George's Tea into the Harbor and the next day be seen on the street by the Kings Army without severe consequence --- although He, His Cousin John, and Hancock were prepared if necessary: ["We pledge our lives our fortunes and our sacred honor"].

In the other case "Sam0" was disguised so that when someone posts a photo showing "his disguised alter-ego" being disorderly -- he's able to say "Not Me Dad" -- and so his father can keep the checks coming thinking that Sam0 is busy studying at some college in Cambridge

Unbelievably ridiculous comparison.