The Boston City Council today took no action on a resolution by Councilor Althea Garrison (at large) to formally support Boston Police and the local police action against outside agitators "committing crimes of assault against them," instead sending it to a council committee for a hearing and further discussion.
Garrison had hoped for an immediate vote on her proposed resolutio, but council rules require a unamimous vote on resolutions for adoption immediately after they are introduced; at least one councilor, however, objected to an immediate vote.
Although Garrison said she has heard increasingly from police that they feel unsupported and unfairly critized, "even by some politicians," she said what galvanized her were alleged physical attacks on police at the end of the Aug. 31 white-supremacist parade and rally at City Hall. Several anti-Nazi protesters were arrested on charges of violence, including assault and battery on police officers; BPD says four officers were injured in a melee on Congress Street.
"The freedom of speech and the right to protest must always be respected, but committing crimes of assault against Boston police officers must not be tolerated," Garrison said.
But Councilor Lydia Edwards (East Boston, Charlestown, North End) said she cannot support Garrison's resolution.
She started by proclaiming her great respect for police officers - including some members of her family - whom she said do their best when people around them are doing their worst. She said that as a Legal Services attorney, she grew to appreciate Boston officers who helped build bridges with frightened immigrants and people with HIV by treatimg them with respect and dignity. "I have seen the best come out of [officers] when the worst comes out of society," she said.
But, she continued, Garrison's resolution, by referring to a specific event, isn't really a call for support police but a call to "support a political agenda." She did not specify that agenda, but it's no secret that Garrison has long had a conservative agenda.
She then turned to the off-duty police officers sitting behind her in the council chambers and repeated that she supports them, and that if she or any of her constituents show them disrespect, they should find her and talk to her.
Edwards was echoed by Councilor Michelle Wu (at large), who started by saying she is "proud and grateful" to live in in a city with "the most professional force in the country," the city where community policing began, and that she condmens violence against Boston police officers.
But referring to a march whose organizers called "a straight pride" event, she also raised questions about Garrison's motivation. "The LGBTQ community in particular has a history with conflict with law enforement, with police violence," she said.
"It's a history we all have to be aware of" she added, calling for conversation on the resolution before it's voted on, to try to avoid misperceptions.
Councilor Frank Baker (Dorchester), however, was having none of that. Baker said it's not kids from Dorchester and Roxbury mixing it up with police and that he is sick of people from "Vermont, Somerville, Bellingham, Middleboro," coming into Boston to get into fights with police.
"We have verbal fecal matter thrown at us all the time," he said of himself and other councilors. "These guys literally have bottles of urine thrown at them."
Councilor Ed Flynn (South Boston, South End, Chinatown, downtown) spoke of the 1919 Boston police strike and said police were right to fight for fair wages and decent working conditions. He did not take a specific stand on the resolution, however.