Mayor Wu on her first 100 days, Ukraine and her hopes to curb 'harassment' with new picketing restrictions

Download Audio

Boston Mayor Wu marked her 105th day in office with a proposal to restrict the near-daily protests outside her private Roslindale home, which have caused disruptions to her family and neighbors.

On Monday, Wu filed an ordinance that would limit "picketing, protesting, or demonstrating" targeted at a specific residence to between the hours of 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Wu spoke with Radio Boston about the proposal just after announcing it.

On the program's "Mondays with the Mayor" hour, she also talked about her first 100 days in office, the legal battle to enforce vaccination requirements among city employees, and masking in city schools even after the state lifted its school mask mandate.

Looking ahead, she told Radio Boston that filling her administration's remaining six cabinet seats is a top priority. She said the search for a permanent police commissioner is on track to make announcement in the spring. She also shared what she is looking for in a new superintendent for Boston Public Schools.

Finally, she talked about efforts to support Ukrainians locally and abroad amid Russia's attack on the eastern European country.

Interview Highlights

On her "targeted residential picketing" proposal:

"We are in a moment in our national politics that is quite divided, and we see that spilling over into rhetoric that feeds rising hate. We see that spilling over into targeted harassment of communities — and in what I and my neighbors have experienced for nine weeks now of targeted harassment — right in front of your home. ...

"For me, it's something I signed up for. I ran for office. I welcome that accountability. But it does have an impact on the health and wellbeing of our communities, and this [ordinance] will help ensure that we can protect our First Amendment rights while also protecting quality of life and health and wellbeing."

On what the ordinance will do and how it will be enforced:

"Our ordinance ... really just puts restrictions from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m. to protect those early morning hours and late-night hours that are really valuable for sleep, health and well-being — and that sense of having the peacefulness of your home. ....

"This is something that is not changing our criminal laws or statutes; it is adding fines to the situation. ... I think it's something like a $100 fine for the first incidents and ramping up from there."

On whether she considers the protests outside her home harassment:

"Yeah, I would say that's right. ... We want to ensure there are as many avenues as possible for people to help support our democratic process, be involved and speak your views. But when the goal becomes less about speaking, having the right to be heard and sharing your views, and more about repeatedly taking away a community's sleep every single day at 7 a.m. just to ensure that you can try to verge on breaking the will of that community — that is harassment. And Boston is better than that."

On whether she expects support for her ordinance from the Boston City Council on Wednesday:

"Some members of the council have also experienced this at their own homes, and so I look forward to and welcome their feedback and stewardship of this legislative process, and we'll see where it goes from there."

On her embattled city employee vaccine mandate and how much litigation is costing the city:

"I don't know what the number is to share. ... In this moment there is a price tag for every action that we take. ... But this is an important marker for the city of Boston to ensure that we can have the authority to take actions that other city governments, other state governments, and other public-serving employers have done in times of public health emergency — and for the greater good.

"We are not out of this pandemic yet, and COVID-19 will very likely continue being something that we have to discuss and spend energy and resources on into next fall and winter and beyond. But we are going to take every action to be prepared to have the plans in place, and that includes having the legal authorities to take the actions that are necessary."

On still requiring masks in Boston Public Schools beyond the state lifting its mask mandate:

"Considering the fact that many families with school-aged children were out and about and potentially even traveling during this most recent school vacation week, [we are] giving it a little bit of time past that one quarantine period or so in order to make sure that the impacts of that travel and exposure in other places wouldn't see a significant bump in our numbers here."

On metrics informing whether to continue mask requirements in schools: 

"There are deep disparities across our school district. And so even looking at the most recent vaccination numbers, there are very few schools that are even above 70% vaccination. We want to be thoughtful, because it is unlikely that the majority of our schools will get to 80% vaccination rates across the student population.

"But if transmission rates are so low that we have the chance to give our students some sense of being able to have an experience without masks ... that's the kind of more complex interaction within our school system that we need to be discussing and fleshing out.

"Our schools have a set of different considerations than the general mask mandate because our buildings are tighter spaces, many of them are older buildings and lack updated ventilation systems that would be ideal, especially in this current health situation."

On the national search for a new superintendent of BPS and prioritizing local candidates: 

"So I've been active on the parent and legal guardian side for over a decade, connected to BPS, and have experience and lived, in some ways, the tumultuousness of various transitions through the years and seeing the potential that is available and that we're ready to step into. For me, it's really important that our next leader of the district can hit the ground running. Someone who fiercely believes in Boston, understands what resources there are, even beyond our school district, and won't be afraid to take bold action to ensure that we are moving quickly toward that vision.

"And so I think it is definitely a plus for someone to have that local knowledge of our school communities of our district."

On local efforts to support Ukrainians and Russians in Boston:

"We know there are Ukrainians in Boston today who are on visas who need to have that protection extended, whether it's similar to a temporary protected status (or TPS) type of protection or other measures. So our Mayor's Office for Immigrant Advancement is working to make sure that we can advocate as much as possible there.

"We know that there are local communities who have sister city relationships with certain communities in Ukraine as well, and we're working to support those efforts to ensure that people can connect and send resources.

"And in this moment it is a strong public solidarity that we hope will make a difference as well, to push back and say that we see our shared humanity. And for Ukrainians in Boston or Russians in Boston and for all those who have family in this conflict, that we are praying for peace, we are advocating for every possible resolution to the situation."

This article was originally published on February 28, 2022.

This segment aired on February 28, 2022.

Headshot of Amanda Beland

Amanda Beland Producer/Director
Amanda Beland is a producer and director for Radio Boston. She also reports for the WBUR newsroom.


Headshot of Tiziana Dearing

Tiziana Dearing Host, Radio Boston
Tiziana Dearing is the host of Radio Boston.


Headshot of Vanessa Ochavillo

Vanessa Ochavillo Associate Producer
Vanessa Ochavillo is an associate producer for WBUR focused on digital news.



More from Radio Boston

Listen Live