More than 6,000 state legislators and federal officials from across the country flocked to Boston this weekend for a legislative summit — and on Sunday were met by nearly a hundred protesters vying for their attention.
Two groups — MBTA mechanics and one composed mostly of Asian-Americans — picketed outside the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, which is hosting the National Conference of State Legislatures annual meeting.
About 60 Asian-Americans protested a bill introduced by state Representative Tackey Chan of Quincy that would require state agencies to collect aggregate data on Asian-American groups in the Commonwealth. According to Chan, the goal of the bill is to provide legislators with a better sense of the demographics and needs of the Asian-American community in the state.
Sunday’s protesters vehemently oppose the bill, voicing concerns about how the data might be used and questioning why the Asian-American community is the only group that would be targeted by the legislation.
“Why single out Asians? If the goal is better policymaking, why not collect data on all ethnic groups?” asked Yong Wang, a software engineer from Sharon. “My children were born here, they are American. Why should they be labeled differently?”
For some protesters, the national political climate has fueled fears about the intent behind the bill. Some compared it to the Muslim registry President Donald Trump proposed, while others expressed concerns about how that data might affect their children’s futures. Media reports have indicated that the US Justice Department intends to investigate universities using affirmative action policies that discriminate against white applicants.
Meanwhile, on the same block, nearly 40 Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority mechanics and members of Invest Now Massachusetts protested officials’ proposals to privatize several of their nine bus garages. The move is expected to save $26 million.
“We’re asking that the legislators sit down and negotiate with us,” said John Dougherty, a lead coordinator with Invest Now. “They’re trying to privatize pretty much everything and its hurting families.”