Representative Ayanna Pressley and more than a dozen other elected officials of color from Boston are condemning the “hateful attacks” on Mayor Michelle Wu, declaring that “to remain silent is to be complicit.”
“As elected officials of color across the City of Boston, we will not stand by and watch as openly racist, anti-Asian and sexist rhetoric is normalized in our community,” the officials, including several city councilors, state lawmakers, and Suffolk County leaders, said on Tuesday in a statement shared with the Globe. “This type of vitriol, toxicity and hate is far too common for women of color in politics, and we can’t help but wonder if the same toxicity and vitriol would be directed at a mayor who wasn’t a woman, a person of color, or an unapologetic history-maker like Mayor Wu is.”
Wu has been the target of vehement protests since she took office in November, with some of the sharpest attacks coming over her decision to require vaccines for city workers and at certain indoor establishments in Boston. While some of those protests remain centered on the policy dispute, other opposition has been racist, sexist, and deeply personal.
Some critics on Twitter have called Wu — who is the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants — the “mayor of Wuhan” or claimed baselessly that she is affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party. Others allude to her Chicago roots, telling her she is not welcome in Boston.
Lately, opposition to Wu’s vaccine mandates has drawn near-daily pre-dawn protests outside her Roslindale home, where Wu said protesters have called her “Hitler” and shouted that her two sons “will grow up without a mom” because she’ll be in “prison.”
Wu has said she tries not to take the protests personally, but she acknowledged that the protests take a toll on her, her family, and her neighbors.
Women of color who serve in public office all too often face vitriol and even menacing warnings of violence. Rachael Rollins, the first Black woman to serve as US attorney for Massachusetts, has described receiving explicit death threats, and others have spoken openly about the hate-filled messages they receive as a result of their work in the public eye.
In addition to Pressley, the elected officials who signed on to the statement included Suffolk District Attorney Kevin Hayden; Suffolk County Sheriff Steven Tompkins; Suffolk County register of probate Felix D. Arroyo; state Representatives Russell Holmes, Brandy Fluker Oakley, Chynah Tyler, Liz Miranda, Jon Santiago, and Nika Elugardo; state Senators Lydia Edwards and Sonia Chang-Dίaz; and City Councilors Julia Mejia, Ruthzee Louijeune, Ricardo Arroyo, Kendra Lara, Brian Worrell, and Tania Fernandes Anderson.