FROM OUR PRINTED AUGUST 1st EDITION:
Boston Mayor Wu Tells WCVB 5, ‘I Don’t Keep Lists’
by Beth Guidry Hoffman
A citizens’ hit list generated by Boston Mayor Michelle Wu’s administration surfaced recently, quickly making national and international headlines with Fox News and the UK’s Daily Mail picking up the story.
For nearly a year individuals
protesting Mayor Wu’s COVID mandates suspected they were being targeted by authorities: unjust arrests; the firing of a police officer; muted from speaking during public hearings on Zoom; and moms targeted by the Department of Children and Families (DCF), sending them to court and upending their lives. It is a civil war of sorts between those who live by the Constitution and their right to protest, and an authoritarian leader trying to silence her political opponents. It’s the stuff of dictatorships and communist regimes, happening right here in Boston.
The list of 15 individuals sent to Boston Police and presumably police departments statewide, includes moms, two North End business owners, and a recently fired police officer. Three on the list are currently running for City Council. The Boston Herald’s Joe Battenfeld broke the story after the list was revealed as a result of a public records request from a pending lawsuit (“Michelle Wu administration admits it sent a list of vocal critics to police” 7/14/23). Fox News followed with “Boston Mayor Michelle Wu under fire after sending list of critics and protesters to police” (7/15/23). And the UK’s Daily Mail headline read “Boston Mayor likened to Richard Nixon for compiling ‘hit list’” (7/15).
Number two on the list is Catherine Vitale, running for one of four seats for Boston City Council At Large. “We knew the whole time last year they were keeping data on us, but we had no proof,” Vitale said. When protesting elected officials in other towns, they were approached by police. “They addressed us by name. They already knew who we were,” Vitale said.
The timing of the arrests last year shows they began just days after the list was created. Wu’s administration cited safety concerns as reason for the list, after her critics protested alongside her in the Dorchester parade. June 10, 2022, was the date David Vittorini, then director of constituent services, sent the list to then Boston Police Captain Robert Ciccolo. Vittorini has since been promoted to senior advisor to Mayor Wu and Robert Ciccolo promoted to superintendent.
On June 15, 2022, at Mayor Wu’s neighborhood coffee hour (held in various parks around Boston), Vitale said Ciccolo assaulted her, handling her aggressively and confiscating her megaphone. Police shouldn’t put their hands on someone unless they’re planning to arrest you, Vitale said. There was no legal reason to take her megaphone.
On June 22, 2022 Shawn Nelson (on the list) was arrested at a neighborhood coffee hour in Dorchester for using a megaphone. Using a megaphone in a park is not illegal. He was wrestled to the ground by Boston police. Nelson is also a candidate for Boston City Council At Large.
On June 29, 2022 Vitale and three other moms protesting outside Wu’s Roslindale home were arrested for disturbing the peace. Two of the moms—not on the list—had their charges dismissed. But Vitale and Shannon Kay, who ARE on the list, were arraigned and are currently awaiting trial.
More recently on 7/18/2023, Mayor Wu claimed on WCVB Channel 5, that the list “was a matter of safety” because protesters were often outside her home and followed her when she walked her kids to school. When asked whether the list was meant to be an intimidation tactic, her response, amid a chuckle, was “certainly, no.” When asked if there were other lists, Mayor Wu, again chuckled, saying, “I don’t keep lists.”
Vitale and others from the list called into WRKO Radio’s Kuhner Report recently, (7/17/23). Host Jeff Kuhner asked Vitale, “What is Mayor Michelle Wu afraid of?” She’s “afraid of us empowering other people to speak up,” Vitale said. Explaining how all this began, Vitale said, “the reason we started protesting her in December 2021, was as soon as Wu took office in November 2021 she took away the COVID testing option for all city workers. No jab, no job, end of story.” Although workers could apply for a medical or religious exemption, they were denied.
“They are also targeting us with DCF,” Vitale told Kuhner. “They tried to take my kids away twice last year.”
Shana Cottone is the Boston Police sergeant on the list, fired nine months after it was sent. The leader of Boston First Responders, Cottone protested Mayor Wu’s vaccine mandate and also called in to The Kuhner Report (7/17/23). Although Mayor Wu claims Boston Police asked for the list, Cottone claims the list was Mayor Wu’s doing and “is a concerted effort… to crush dissent.” She also citied a string of promotions “that happened for people who do the bidding of Mayor Wu.” Cottone appealed to listeners, saying “we need lawyers and watchdog groups to get involved here to keep the pressure on.”
“People need to get out of the mindset of thinking being loud is some kind of crime. A protest is MEANT TO BE DISRUPTIVE,” Vitale said. “It is your right to speak against the government.”
After all this it should come as no surprise that a petition is circulating to recall Mayor Wu. Go to: https://recallwu.org/. ♦