by Rick Winterson
It was very much to his credit that Mayor Martin J. Walsh dropped in at last Saturday’s West Broadway Unity Day celebration.
Last Saturday was the day of the so-called “Boston Free Speech” Rally on Boston Common. A permit allowing such a gathering was issued – fittingly so, because the Common (within hailing distance of the legendary “Liberty Tree”) has historically been the location of so many other examples of the free speech we enjoy in America. The Rally itself drew only a few hundred participants. However, a very large number of protesters – 50,000 or more – marched from Roxbury to the Common, including some members of Antifa.
But wisely, the Mayor stuck to his pre-established schedule, arriving at West Broadway Unity Day around 11:30 Saturday morning.
The 2017 Unity Day on Orton Marotta Way was a cookout with recorded music, “Simon Says”, and lots of summer picnic food. Several tables were set up by community organizations, including the Health Center, South Boston en Accion, and the Farmers Market. Mayor Walsh visited all the tables; he spoke at length with Elena and Betty, the Manager and President of West Broadway Homes and the Task Force, respectively.
On the porch where the grille was located, BHA Administrator Bill McGonagle introduced the Mayor to the crowd. After greeting everyone and thanking the Unity Day’s organizers, Mayor Walsh briefly described his plans for additional low to middle-income housing in Boston. In total, he spent about an hour at West Broadway Unity Day. It also an informal campaign day – this year, the Mayor is running for re-election; South Boston’s Ed Flynn was on hand as part of his own campaign for District Two City Councilor.
As it turned out, Mayor Walsh made exactly the right call by showing up at Unity Day here. Led by Police Commissioner Evans, law enforcement in Boston on Saturday successfully kept the peace. Other than about 30 arrests, primarily for disorderly conduct, the entire train of events was peaceful despite the huge crowd of protesters who were involved.
After West Broadway Unity Day, Mayor Walsh departed for the remainder of his full schedule, which included stops at Charlestown, the Roxbury “Y”, a Hendry Street block party, the “Find Your Voice in Peace” barbecue, Eastie Pride Day, and the Fisherman’s Feast in the North End. He has since received nationwide praise for his cool, level-headed conduct of City of Boston affairs last weekend.
Thank you for stopping by West Broadway Unity Day, Mr. Mayor.