Protest outside WBUR calls for publication to remove opinion piece and issue public apology – The Daily Free Press

Protesters stand outside WBUR Friday morning. “We The People of MA” has called for a retraction and public apology from WBUR following the posting of a comment describing the group as “guilty of racist bullying and hate crimes,” according to the statement. group press. ANH NGUYEN/DFP STAFF

A protest outside WBUR at Boston University on Friday morning called on the media house to apologize for posting a comment room which protesters say portrays them as “guilty of racist intimidation and hate crimes”.

The article was published following protests outside the home of Mayor Michelle Wu over vaccine and mask mandates currently in place in the city of Boston.

In the article, WBUR contributor Colette Phillips wrote that the language used during the protests was hateful and misogynistic, noting that a protester’s placard depicted the mayor as a “c— communist,” as reported by a article from the Boston Globe, December 23.

“It should not be legal to go into private homes and terrorize and traumatize elected officials and their families,” Phillips wrote.

In response, We The People of MA, a group that regularly participates in protests outside Wu’s home, called the article a “racist attack on protesters” and called on WBUR to remove the article and its president. to apologize.

“It’s defamation,” said Catherine Vitale, president of We The People of MA. “We have sent a certified letter to WBUR President Paul Gannon asking for a public apology and retraction.”

Protesters took to the streets outside WBUR with signs bearing messages such as “WBUR/NPR/WULiars” and “WBUR LIES AND SBEARS AND PROPAGANDA FOR TYRANT WU/WE WANT FREEDOM”.

A protester repeatedly chanted “You are not a dog. Take off the muzzle,” over a megaphone to masked people walking down the street. Another chanted, “Wu is a bad person,” in Mandarin.

According to Deputy Chief Robert Molloy, BUDP officers had to evict the protesters from a building, which he noted belonged to Boston University.

Vitale said officers likely escorted them out of the building as none of them were wearing face masks at the time, noting such actions were common practice for their members. Vitale added that since NPR member WBUR received federal funding, they should be allowed in.

“The public can come in. They have no real reason to make us leave,” Vitale said. “If a public accommodation facility tries to evict someone for not wearing a mask, they are breaking the law. They discriminate against us. »

As part of its COVID-19 policy, BU requires indoor masks to be worn in all University buildings.

We The People of MA issued their own press release on February 10 in response to the comment. In it, the group denounced Phillips’ characterization of them and WBUR’s failure to disclose Phillips’ relationship to the Wu administration at the time of publication.

“Taxpayer-funded WBUR has not disclosed that Collette Phillips’ public relations practice had political clients, and that Phillips has been paid by Mayor Wu’s campaigns in the past,” the press release read.

WBUR then added an editor’s note to the comment stating that Phillips’ consulting firm had been awarded a contract “through an open bidding process” by the City of Boston to create a “campaign all-inclusive” in 2020 – a campaign still ongoing under the Wu Administration.

A Tufts student, who requested anonymity, said he joined the group and attended the protest because he believed in the “freedom of people to decide what they put in their bodies”.

Emily Puglisi, a sophomore at the College of Communications, said several BUPD officers gathered near the entrance to the Center for English Language & Orientation Programs building, one block east of WBUR, holding the door open for students going to class.

“It was scary, and I think they were just really intimidating,” they said. “There was definitely a disruption in the BU community… It was very disruptive and probably put a lot of students at risk or feeling uncomfortable.”

WBUR did not respond to a request for comment.

Editor-in-chief Jean Paul Azzopardi contributed to this article.

Jacob L. Thornton