As Mitt Romney’s motorcade pulled up to a Roxbury truck repair company Thursday, a group of about 60 protesters across the street offered a boisterous welcome.
“We’ve got to feed our children!” they chanted. “We’ve got to pay our rent! Ask Mitt Romney where the jobs went!”
In addition to spurring a protest, the campaign stop at Middlesex Truck & Coach also brought reporters from across the country, as well as political operatives from both parties, to a quiet sidestreet lined with garages and warehouses.
The stir amused Bob Cormier, who works at a lumber yard down Gerard Street from Middlesex.
“I don’t see too many votes on this street,” said Cormier, 69.
That didn’t stop politicians from trying to score quick points, however. City Councillor Tito Jackson, who represents Roxbury, stood with protesters and offered Romney a sarcastic welcome.
“I’m very happy that the former governor found his way back to Roxbury,” Jackson said in a sidewalk interview. “He was here very few times when he was governor. And what we found when he was governor was broken promises.”
Protesters said they had mobilized quickly after learning of Romney’s early afternoon appearance in the late morning. The hasty nature of the demonstration didn’t seem to quell the passion of protesters like Nicholas Smith, a Roxbury resident who said Romney’s economic strategy would hurt the neighborhood.
“He wants to get rid of teachers and firefighters and police officers and social services that people in Roxbury need,” said Smith, a community organizer. “People in Roxbury go to work every day, and they’re willing to work, but if there’s no jobs, we’re going to be a community that’s hurting.”
Johnny Mastrocola, who appraises trucks for the company Romney visited, said he disagreed with the protesters.
“There’s plenty of jobs out there if you want to get a job,” Mastrocola said.
At a McDonalds near the campaign stop, Keith Patton ordered lunch for his wife, who is being treated at nearby Boston Medical Center.
Patton, who lives near Gerard Street, said he felt Romney’s policies would help the rich, not Roxbury residents.
Thursday’s campaign stop did not change his mind, he said.
“I’m fine with him visiting the neighborhood,” he said. “But no thanks for president.”
The neighborhood near Romney’s visit sees a lot of drug-related crime, said Daniel Cherry, who lives and works across Massachusetts Avenue from Gerard Street at New Market Pizza & Grill.
Just Wednesday night, someone triggered the alarm trying to break into the restaurant, where Cherry works as a delivery driver, he said.
Cherry said he wishes politicians would try harder to fight crime in the area, and he said Romney’s visit came as a pleasant surprise.
But Cherry, who doesn’t plan on voting in November, said he expected little to come from the campaign stop.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen when he becomes president, but I doubt he’s going to remember Mass Ave.,” Cherry said.