MASSACHUSETTS: Eight days before the long-planned first-ever two-day MassCann/NORML Boston Freedom Rally on the Boston Common, scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, September 14 and 15, the City of Boston without warning has denied the permit for the two-day event as of Friday, September 6. This comes two months after representatives of MassCann/NORML met with officials of all affected city departments to iron out details, a meeting at which there was no hint of any such problems.
In a phone call with Bill Downing, treasurer of MassCann, Alex O’Connell, Esq. of the Boston Law Department informed Downing that the City had decided there were not enough police resources to police MassCann/NORML’s event along with other events happening that weekend. Ms. O’Connell offered no explanation why the City had figured out this was a concern only eight days before the event, given months of constant contact between city officials and MassCann/NORML about various aspects of the upcoming event.
Ms. O’Connell also offered no explanation why the police were needed at all, given that the event is famously peaceful and good-natured, with no alcohol allowed, and Park Rangers and EMTs are on hand to keep order and deal with emergencies.
This is not the first time the City has attempted to derail a Freedom Rally. In 1997 and 1998 the City imposed unworkable and unconstitutional restrictions which were overturned by court injunction. In 2008, the City attempted to siphon off any proceeds from the rally and redirect them to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston, a scheme that was also overturned by court injunction.