As her vaccination mandate went into effect for Boston on Saturday, Mayor Michelle Wu recounted some of the personal vitriol she, her family and neighbors have faced because of it.
“There is deep-rooted misinformation that we need strong policies to counter. Every day I am reminded of it at home,” she told a news conference.
Protesters calling on the city not to create a vaccination mandate have made regular appearances outside Wu’s home in Roslindale for days – and her vaccination mandate has caused an at times racist outcry since she announced it.
Just before 7:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, a man who indicated he was her neighbor tweeted about it: “Well at least the protest playlist is better than yesterday, sorry it’s so early. I support you .”
Wu responded to her by apologizing, and then responded to someone who criticized her for calling the protests hateful by saying it was important not to normalize hate when protesters chanted “Happy Birthday , Hitler,” on her birthday Friday — leading her young son to ask who else’s birthday was.
Asked about this later at a press conference on the new vaccine mandate, Wu noted that the megaphone-amplified protests have “been a pretty regular occurrence” and they don’t just affect her, but her family and neighbors, including “a 96-year-old veteran who deserves to sleep in the morning.”
But she said that wouldn’t deter her from pursuing Boston’s vaccination mandate for indoor spaces like restaurants, gyms and indoor recreation facilities, including theaters and sports venues, as well as certain other businesses. Wu is also demanding that city workers be vaccinated by this month.
“I’ve never backed down from a position or an issue because people are shouting or getting loud,” she said.
She went on to note that misinformation is a national problem, but that underscores the profound effects of the pandemic on people.
She also noted that she was “used to it” as many women of color have dealt with the vitriol.
City Council Speaker Ed Flynn made that point during the press conference. He said his father, Ray Flynn, brought protesters to their home when he was mayor in the 1980s and 1990s.
“But I think the difference is that the level of intensity that’s happening today wasn’t there when my dad was there, and I honestly believe that some of that has to do with an anti-Asian sentiment that we have in this country,” Flynn said.
Over the past year, in addition to the spread of the coronavirus, the feeling of hatred and racism against the Asian community has increased.
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Flynn said he was proud to work with Wu — who is the city’s first Asian American mayor and the first woman or person of color elected to that position — and said it was important that everyone world “treat our immigrants with respect and dignity”.
Last month, protesters filled Boston City Hall when Wu announced plans for the vaccination mandate and vaccination passports. And while some applauded the decision, other reactions were extreme, and in some cases misogynistic and racist.
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu is facing heavy pressure for her new COVID term and has received numerous hate messages, some targeting her gender and ethnicity.