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Bill Would Ban Protests Outside Elected Officials' Homes In Massachusetts

BOSTON (CBS) -- A state lawmaker wants to make politicians' homes off-limits to protesters. Rep. Steven Howitt, a Seekonk Republican, has filed a bill called "An act relative to safety and privacy for elected officials" that would prohibit protests or demonstrations within 100 yards of an elected official's residence.

In September, eight climate protesters were arrested after chaining themselves to a boat outside Gov. Charlie Baker's Swampscott home.

"I think it was worth it," said one woman, who was asked why the group didn't protest outside the Statehouse instead of Baker's home. "We've done that. He hasn't listened. So we had to go to his home."

Extinction Rebellion Boston protest
Protesters from Extinction Rebellion Boston tied themselves to a boat outside Gov. Baker's House Tuesday morning. (WBZ-TV)

Howitt told the State House News Service that the demonstration outside Baker's home was a factor in filing the bill, but it's not aimed at just protecting the governor or one political party.

"It doesn't focus on Republicans or Democrats, state or municipal. It's all the way up and down the line for an elected official, because an official is out there serving the people of a community and the families of that individual should not be harassed," Howitt said.

He did acknowledge to the State House News Service that whether or not the proposal is constitutional for limiting free speech "might be a question."

In 2020, there were also protests outside the Baker home over coronavirus policies and an incident involving protesters who left needles on the sidewalk to draw attention to the drug use problem in Boston.

"I'm afraid of being physically hurt in one way or another," First Lady Lauren Baker said in a court hearing.

The bill calls for a penalty of up to one year in jail, or a fine between $100 and $500 for any protesters that refuse a request by police to leave.


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