Boston Mayor Michelle Wu is facing scrutiny after her administration admitted to creating a list of her most vocal critics and providing it to local authorities.
The acknowledgment sparked outrage from her opponents, who argued that the mayor is attempting to silence or intimidate her critics. Some compared the tactics to those used by former President Richard Nixon.
In a statement to the Boston Herald, Wu’s spokesman Ricardo Patron said the list was created in response to a request from the Boston Police Department after the mayor was harassed and physically intimidated by individuals for several months outside her home, at city functions, and at other public events.
“Following the Dorchester Day Parade on June 5, 2022, Boston Police met with City staff on June 10 to make a safety plan for the upcoming Bunker Hill Day parade on June 12, and the then-Captain of the District overseeing Charlestown asked for a list of individuals who had been involved in public disruption and harassment of the Mayor at the Dorchester Day Parade and outside her house,” Patron said.
The list, which was obtained via a public records request by Wu’s opponents, contained the names of her most vocal critics, including Boston City Council at-large candidate Catherine Vitale, anti-vaccine activists who had protested outside of Wu’s home, and North End restaurant owners who had opposed Wu policies. There were also no reasons provided as to why the names were given.
Last year, Wu, a Democrat, passed an ordinance prohibiting protests outside her home during certain hours. She is the first woman and first Asian-American to serve as mayor in the city’s history.
Wu’s tactics have raised serious questions among some critics over whether her administration is trying to stifle free speech and dissent.
“The more Mayor Wu tries to do this, the more it looks like a Nixonian tactic,” said Bob Schaeffer, a Dorchester resident and Wu critic. “She’s using city resources to target the people she doesn’t like. It goes against everything this country stands for.”
For its part, the administration has dismissed the criticism, saying that the document was created for safety reasons.
While Wu’s opponents have made their views clear, it is yet to be seen what impact this incident will have on her public image and her long-term political career.