A small group of protesters made their way inside the closed-to-the-public State House Wednesday morning demanding that the building once again welcome visitors nearly two years after elected officials shuttered its doors.
The group of nine was equipped with bullhorns and whistles, chanting against COVID-19 related mandates put in place by Gov. Charlie Baker, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, and other elected politicians.
A heavy police presence responded to the small band of people while State Police cruisers crowded Bowdoin Street. Police locked the gates to Ashburton Park and prevented employees from entering the building while the situation was unfolding.
One protester, who refused to give her name, said the nine people were not part of a group and were "just citizens that are against these mandates." When asked by police, two protestors refused to give their names and renewed their calls for access to the building.
The Boston Globe reported that one of the protesters has been part of regular protests outside the home of Boston Mayor Michele Wu. The protesters object to the city's COVID vaccine mandate for public workers.
After an hour shouting into microphones, blowing whistles, and decrying vaccination policies, a trooper informed the group they were unlawfully assembled in the building and would be arrested if they did not leave. At that point, several people left while others continued to argue with police over the specific law they were breaking.
Some time later, the same police officer gave the group a five minute warning before arrests would be made. More protestors left except for a group of four, who were eventually ushered out by multiple troopers outside the building onto Derne Street, near Florina Pizzeria.
A spokesperson for the State Police confirmed one person managed to get past DCR rangers at the Ashburton entrance and make her way further inside the building. She was "removed from the building," the spokesperson said.
The State House has been closed to the public for 701 days, but elected officials and some staffers have started to return to the building more regularly. Democratic legislative leaders, including Senate President Karen Spilka, have signaled in recent weeks that the building could reopen in some capacity as soon as this month, but the Ashland Democrat said Wednesday that any reopening plan must include safety precautions.