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New city councilors sworn in

Outdoor ceremony nearly drowned out by protestors

Anna Lamb
New city councilors sworn in
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu swears in Boston City Councilors during their inauguration, held outdoors at Boston City Hall due to the increased numbers of Covid-19 cases. PHOTO: ANGELA ROWLINGS

On Monday, the new cohort of city councilors was sworn in in an outdoor ceremony at City Hall before sitting for their first meeting as a body the same afternoon. Held outdoors in the City Hall courtyard due to rising coronavirus cases, the ceremony was also marked by a continuous drone of anti-vaccine chants coming from protestors outside the building’s entrance.

During the ceremony, returning Councilors Michael Flaherty, Julia Mejia, Lydia Edwards, Ed Flynn, Frank Baker, Ricardo Arroyo, Kenzie Bok and Liz Breadon were joined on a stage by the newly elected at-large Councilors Ruthzee Louijeune and Erin Murphy and district Councilors Brian Worrell, Kendra Hicks and Tania Fernandes Anderson. Councilors’ families were invited to watch as Mayor Michelle Wu read the oath of office.

Mayor Michelle Wu joins members of the Boston City Council in the Iannella Chamber after they were sworn in Monday. PHOTO: JEREMIAH ROBINSON, MAYOR’S OFFICE

Louijeune is the first Haitian American member elected to Boston’s city council, Fernandes Anderson the first Muslim and first African immigrant to serve on the body, and Hicks the first Black woman to serve in her district.

Immediately following the swearing in, Wu gave a brief address to those gathered.

“We are all here at an inauguration that looks very different than the one we were expecting even a couple of weeks ago. Sitting here outside in the cold, let this be a reminder of what so many in our city have to live with every single day.”

Wu went on to mention residents standing in the cold in long lines waiting for COVID tests, unhoused Bostonians at Mass and Cass and across the city facing blustery weather, and “residents who have been outside in the cold because of systems that have not seen and valued them.”

She continued, adding that she was looking forward to collaboration with the new council in addressing inequity throughout the city.

“Let us find warmth in each other even as we face stiff headwinds,” Wu said. “We will make progress and make sure that we are always holding the light of our Boston residents in front of us and build that community that we need and we deserve in 2022.”

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former mayor and current U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh were also in attendance.

Asked what advice he has for the new council, Walsh said, “The people of Boston just want them to represent them” and “making sure the city services are delivered and making sure that we continue to do great things in the City of Boston.”

Later in the afternoon, newly elected Council President Ed Flynn congratulated his new colleagues.

“Each of you has demonstrated your dedication to public service to earn this job,” he said. “And I’m confident and our colleagues are confident that you’ll make a difference for the people of Boston. We look forward to working with you.”

The previously planned inaugural celebration has been postponed until spring.

As for the protestors outside of City Hall Monday morning, this is not the first time a group with such sentiment has come together in such a way. Back on Dec. 20, when Wu originally announced the new vaccine mandate that requires proof of vaccine status to enter public spaces and city employees to be immunized, similar chants could be heard in the background.

Some of the demonstrators bore signs reading “No medical mandates,” “China lied people Died” and one linking “Blue Lives Matter” to the cause. Among the chants they shouted was “Shame on Wu.” 

In a brief address to media following the ceremony, Mayor Wu doubled down on her position, telling reporters, “Vaccinations are the most powerful tool we have to end this pandemic.”

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