On Saturday September 7, one week after the infamous “Straight Pride Parade” in Boston, LGBTQ activists led a gathering outside of City Hall to rally and condemn Mayor Marty Walsh for defending the homophobic, white supremacist rally that led to the arrest of 34 counter-protesters and indiscriminate police violence against many more.
The aptly named “Shame on Marty Walsh” rally was called by a developing coalition of community organizers and activists demanding that all charges against the counter-protesters be dropped, the resignation of Boston Police Department Captain John Danilecki and Judge Thomas Horgan and an end to the militarized violence targeting Black and Brown communities.
Ariel Gillooly stood near the front, wearing a skirt with the transgender pride colors and holding a hand-made sign reading “only monsters mess with medics.” She told Liberation News she only heard about the protest the night before from a friend who was assaulted by the police at “Straight Pride.” “Completely peaceful protestors being assaulted, being pepper sprayed, medics being attacked … absolutely unacceptable. And you know whenever the police are around, even if they’re not actively doing anything directly to people, they still had the implication of violence. That’s what the police are. It’s basically a means of keeping control.”
After the rally, several dozen protesters marched and chanted down to the waterfront to join UNITE HERE Local 26 Battery Wharf Hotel workers on strike. The group was applauded and handed signs as they seamlessly filed into the picket line, tripling the size of the crowd already there. Hotel workers, side by side with activists wielding tambourines and trans pride flags, chanted “Don’t check in, check out! Dirty beds, check out! Nasty food, check out,” “No contract, no peace,” and “Shame on you!” to patrons who dared to cross the picket line.
“We are on strike because the company wants to take away our health insurance, our retirement plan, and freeze our wages for the next five years and we can’t afford it if they do that,” Battery Wharf Hotel worker Amal Yusuf told Liberation News. “We cannot afford our health insurance, our family’s lives or living in Boston where we work.”
More police arrived to monitor the striking workers after the energetic anti-police brutality protesters joined the picket. On the presence of police, Yusuf said, “We don’t mind but like, they call [the police] every day as we if we are going to do violence or something like that. But we’re not violent, we’re just protesting peacefully… I don’t think that the police should be doing any violence. They’re supposed to protect the public, they’re not supposed to do violence.”
“I was actually at the demonstration on Saturday. I saw it with my own eyes. The police were pretty out of control,” AFSCME 3650 member Genevieve, who led the contingent from the earlier demo down to the picket, told Liberation News. “As workers… we need to recognize that [the police are] not workers… their union is not like our union…. I have been on picket lines where police have rioted on workers. There was an incident in Providence [Rhode Island] a few years ago where the police rioted and they broke a woman’s leg… I’ve been on picket lines where the cops have physically attacked us. They’re not friends of workers.”
“Queer rights are workers rights… We all have to get together and fight oppression. All the marginalized people in society have to come together, that’s why it’s so great that so many people were at an event against police brutality and for LGBTQ+ rights and a bunch of us came down the street and supported this picket.” said Geoff, another AFSCME 3650 member who marched from City Hall. “Everybody should come out and support this strike. It’s important for workers, it’s important for queer people, it’s important for people of color, it’s important for the whole society…. If they get enough support they can win.”
Support the workers at the Battery Wharf Hotel by donating to the Local 26 strike fund, or joining the picket line!