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Anti vax protestors target Wu’s residence

Vaccine mandate sparks outrage among some, despite popularity

Saraya Wintersmith, GBH News
Anti vax protestors target Wu’s residence
Anti-vaccine mandate protesters stand across the street from Boston Mayor Michelle Wu’s home in Roslindale as the sun rises on Jan. 12, 2022. PHOTO: Saraya Wintersmith / GBH News

Most mornings in the past week or so, a small band of protesters stationed themselves outside the modest two-family house where Boston Mayor Michelle Wu lives with her husband and two school-age sons. Her elderly mother lives on the first floor.

The clutch of activists have a mission: to stop Wu’s vaccination mandate that is scheduled to go into effect Saturday.

On Wednesday, members of the anti-vaccine mandate group Boston First Responders United came without the public displays of racism that have plagued Wu in other situations since she announced the new policy, which requires proof of vaccination to access most indoor recreation spaces and eliminates an option for city workers to submit to weekly testing instead of getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

The group did, however, bring bullhorns, shouting and fierce opposition to the mayor’s doorstep as the sun rose over this usually quiet Roslindale street.

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu leaves her Roslindale home the morning of Jan. 12, 2022.

“Good morning, Michelle,” crowed the group of five as the popular “Good Morning Song” by The Singing Walrus blared across a sound system. “We should not be losing our jobs because of this vaccine!”

Boston Police Sergeant Shana Cottone leads the group, which has appeared in various spots across the city to express opposition to Wu’s vaccination policy.

Cottone is currently on leave and has publicly accused Mayor Wu of driving her suspension in retaliation for the consistent anti-vaccine mandate protests.

On Wednesday, Cottone said she would rather be at work and be allowed the freedom to decline the vaccine, which lessens the likelihood of death from COVID-19. Cottone said she is averse to the vaccine because of religious beliefs, though she declined to discuss the particulars with reporters on Wednesday.

“I never wanted to have to do this,” she said while waiting for Wu to exit her home.

Cottone is a member of the Boston Superior Officers Federation, one of three first responder unions suing to halt Wu’s mandate from taking effect. The other unions are the Boston Firefighters Local 718 and the Boston Police Detectives Benevolent Society.

“If they succeed, it will help everyone,” Cottone said of the legal action.

Neighbors and police patrolling the area said the protest group has descended upon the neighborhood several times in the past two weeks, jolting nearby residents from their slumber.

Kelly Gallagher, who lives a few blocks away from the mayor, said the group has crossed a line by bringing their political disagreement to the mayor’s home.

“If you want to go protest, you can go to City Hall,” she said, chiding the group as she passed by on a morning walk.

“They really scared my kids the other day,” said Gallagher, a Wu supporter, told reporters Wednesday.

“I just think about her kids … and I don’t understand,” she continued. “This isn’t right to do to her in our neighborhood and to her family.”

Saraya Wintersmith covers Boston City Hall for GBH News.