Somerville, MA— Just before nightfall on Monday, August 31, 2015, leaders of Black Lives Matter Cambridge and the #Somerville18 met with Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone and Chief of Police David Fallon to demand protections of free speech in Massachusetts.
On the morning of January 15, 2015, the #Somerville18, a group of Pan-Asians, Latinos, and white people, some of whom identify as queer or transgender, stood in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement by temporarily blocking the I-93 highway in Massachusetts. The demonstration called for the end to racial profiling, incarceration, murders, and other forms of police violence against Black people in the United States and beyond.
The #Somerville18 are being harshly retaliated against with unreasonable and inhumane punishments for exercising their First Amendment rights, which guarantee freedom of speech. District Attorney Ryan recommends 90 days jail time, 18 months probation, and $14,580 in restitution for temporarily slowed traffic and demanding racial justice.
“When protesters want to come to our city because they feel the ideals of this country are being lost, we need to stand up and declare that’s what they should be doing and be allowed to do. We should be celebrating that,” Curtatone told more than 100 people at the East Somerville Community School a few days after the demonstration.
As a #BlackLivesMatter banner hangs from City Hall, Black Lives Matter Cambridge and the #Somerville18 urged Mayor Joseph Curtatone to stand by his words and take action to protect free speech. As an elected official, the mayor has the capacity to enact more just and reasonable measures to protect freedom of speech.
“It is our civic duty to hold elected officials accountable,” said a member of the #Somerville18. “Elected officials, such as Mayor Curtatone, must ask themselves: What are we doing to protect the rights of today’s civil rights leaders?”