You’re the city of Boston. Hate crimes have been surging in recent years, reaching near-record levels. What do you not do? Invite a Straight Pride Parade to march down the streets of your city and proclaim that heterosexuals are an oppressed minority.
But according to a new report, that’s exactly what Boston did.
The LGBTQ+ publication NewNowNext is reporting that Massachusetts’ largest city is reforming its human rights commission for the first time in 23 years following a wave of hate crimes across the state. In 2017, the number of reported bias attacks were the highest in a decade, with Boston leading the state in hate crimes.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigations, LGBTQ+ people were among the most likely groups to be targeted. Incidents related to the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity comprised 16 percent of attacks.
In a statement, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh claims that reforming the commission — which was disbanded in 1996 after 12 years of operation — illustrates the city’s commitment to “preserving and advancing human rights, including in our immigrant communities.”
The board will “have the power to investigate bias-related incidents, calling witnesses, holding hearings, and issuing reports,” as NewNowNext reports.
However, the rejuvenated commission will have quite a task on its hand amid the fallout from this weekend’s events. Although just a handful of heterosexuals showed up to the Straight Pride Parade, the sea of LGBTQ+ protesters which convened on the event this Saturday were maced by local law enforcement and in some cases beaten with batons.
Thirty-six protesters were arrested following the clash with authorities, with charges ranging from disorderly conduct to assaulting a police officer. On Tuesday, Justice Richard Sinnott denied requests to drop lower level charges.
Walsh has repeatedly condemned the Straight Pride Parade — which was affiliated with white supremacist groups — and expressed support for Boston’s LGBTQ+ community. Although the mayor claimed Boston could not refuse parade permits “based on an organization's values," he said in a June tweet that “love will always prevail.”
In light of recent events, Boston City Council President Andrea Campbell has called on the city to review the process by which it surveys permits for public events.