Beacon Hill Civic Association Community Corner

BHCA Gives Testimony at the Boston Freedom Rally Hearing, Docket #1421


The Beacon Hill Civic Association attended the hearing sponsored by Councilors Josh Zakim and Ed Flynn held last Wednesday and presided over by Committee Chair Matt O’Malley at the City Council chambers at City Hall. Patricia Tully, Executive Director of the BHCA, joined Arturo Gossage of Chinatown Residents Association, and Lauren Hoops-Schmieg, Executive Director of Hill House, to support the opinion and findings of the Friends of the Public Garden and their Executive Director, Liz Vizza.


BHCA comments were as follows:


“Good afternoon.

On behalf of the Beacon Hill Civic Association (“BHCA”), I’d like to thank City Councilors Josh Zakim and Ed Flynn for sponsoring this matter and Council President Campbell, Councilors Edwards, Essaibi-George, Wu, Flaherty, Baker, and Committee Chair Matt O’Malley for offering this venue and opportunity to give public testimony on the Boston Freedom Rally event.

My name is Patricia Tully, and I am the Executive Director of the BHCA. We are a non-profit organization representing Beacon Hill with over 800 active members. Our mission is to preserve the quality of life on Beacon Hill through historical preservation, civic engagement and community development. Our goal, as neighbors helping neighbors, is to maintain this historic neighborhood as a clean, safe and livable place for families and residents of all ages.

Councilors Flynn and Zakim originally filed a request for this hearing on the event, citing complaints about “illegal activities and permit violations” at this

year’s three-day event that took place during the period Sept. 14 through 16, 2018. Among the ideas the City Council should consider, the request stated, was having the event move off the Boston Common to some other, more appropriate venue.

We share in the belief that the Boston Common is not an appropriate venue for this event. We have heard from our members about their concerns that having the event at the park is not appropriate due to the large size of the event, the general rowdiness of the event participants, and the continued failure by the event organizers to follow the requirement of the permits that they were granted to run this event.

We have received complaints concerning the continued presence of parked cars on the green space during the event, of overnight camping by event participants in the park, and of the leaving of massive amounts of trash, including used hypodermic needles, strewn in the park.  Such complaints also included comments by our members that they did not feel safe in the Boston Common during the event this year.

The BHCA fully supports the efforts of the Friends of the Public Garden (“Friends”), which earlier this year raised significant concerns about the event as the size of its crowds has grown, and the Friends have shared photographs with us of the incredible disarray, including garbage, used food containers, used cooking oil, and other organic waste, which the Friends have described as “beyond anything we have seen in years past” and said required hours of overtime for clean-up.

Some of the comments that were received before, during and after the recent Boston Freedom Rally event on the Boston Common, included the following:

“I’m planning to bring my family on our annual visit to Boston and Beacon Hill – will it be safe to visit the Common this year?”

“The Hempfest participants were selling smoking apparatus in a park where smoking is banned! Minors were exposed to the message of drug use in our public park…where there is a merry-go-round and playground! There is clearly a conflict in values and messages here.”

“What can we do? It was such a dangerous event.”

“I saw a woman urinating in front of everyone by the Frog Pond near the playground!”

“…the Boston Common was a disgrace…it was sad to see our Parks Department cleaning up after so much disrespect. I hope the Hempfest event can be not only be moved from the Common in the future, but also focus on education and awareness and not as an enabling event for so much negative and disruptive behavior.”

“There was a shirtless man sitting with open glass mason jars full of marijuana with people gathering around him.”

”This can’t continue. We need fresh ideas to fix it now. I am offering to help. This event should not have a special dispensation to turn the Common into a garbage dump.”

In conclusion, we believe that the Boston Common is a sacred resource that must be protected so that it can continue to serve the needs of all of Boston’s residents for many years to come. It is not an appropriate venue for this event, and we respectfully request that the City Council, Mayor’s Office and the organizers of the event work together to find a more appropriate venue for this event next year.

Thank you for the opportunity to present these comments.”

The public still has the opportunity to send their concerns and comments to Councilor Matt O’Malley, Chair on Environment, Sustainability and Parks at [email protected].

Join us!

If you haven’t yet become a member of the BHCA, we invite you to join. Your input in quality of life issues on the Hill is important to us, and we rely on you our neighbors to bring your comments and concerns to our attention. By joining our membership, you add to the collective voice of the neighborhood and support our work in historic preservation, community development and civic engagement. Please call our office at 617-227-1922 or email the BHCA Executive Director at [email protected] with any questions, comments or concerns, or to become a member.

Upcoming BHCA Meetings

Tuesday, Nov. 27: Events Committee Meeting at 6 p.m., 74 Joy Street

Wednesday, Nov. 28: Traffic and Parking Committee Meeting at 6 p.m., 74 Joy Street


Other upcoming BHCA Events

Young Friends Social – Wednesday, Nov. 28, 7-8:30 p.m., Harvard Gardens

Decorating Days – Dec. 1 and 2

47th Annual Beacon Hill Gala – Feb. 9, at the Omni Parker House

Visit the Beacon Hill Civic Association website or call the office (617-227-1922) for more information on any of these events.

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