Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday applauded Boston Mayor Michelle Wu for putting a "worthy topic" on the table in the city while highlighting the pressure points involved in any attempt to restrict demonstrations that target a particular residence.
Like Baker, Wu has regularly encountered protesters outside her home, and on Monday the mayor proposed an ordinance that would restrict targeted residential picketing between the hours of 9 p.m. and 9 a.m. The proposal would not affect marches or protests that pass through residential areas and are not targeted at a particular home, and would apply to any targeted residence, not just the homes of elected officials.
"People have the right and should have the opportunity to make their voices heard and those of us in public life should expect to hear them," Baker told reporters when asked about Wu's proposal. "I do find based on my own personal experience that when people start protesting and shutting down roads and making it very difficult for your neighbors to live their lives, it's worthy of further discussion."
The "most important issue here," Baker said, "is not so much about whether or not somebody should be able to wake our family up at 6:30 in the morning with a bullhorn, which happened more than once, the real issue is you're waking up my neighbors and they're private citizens and they have rights, too."
The governor also said he was aware of a Rep. Steven Howitt (R-Seekonk) proposal that would impose legal penalties for protesting too close to the home of an elected official.
"The hard part here is figuring out some way to maintain the very public rights that people should have to protest, which I'm completely supportive of, but at the same time recognizing private citizens, private residents deserve their privacy," Baker said.