JP activists held a meeting last night to organize protests against Boston’s 2024 Olympics bid, drawing more than 50 people. The meeting was triggered by Gazette reports that the bid includes Franklin Park, a choice made without public input. It was the city’s first community meeting of any kind about the Olympic bid.
An official with Boston 2024, the private committee organizing Boston’s Olympics bid, attended the meeting and announced at that the group will hold its own public meetings soon. No venue decisions for Boston’s bid to host the 2024 summer Olympics will be made without community “outreach and consent,” said the official, Doug Rubin.
However, the bid process is moving quickly—the first stage will be done by early next year—and the JP activists made it clear their protests will move forward.
Many of attendees at the meeting at First Baptist Church at 633 Centre St. volunteered to do legislative and media outreach, and to organize protests opposing the bid.
During the short and orderly meeting, community members voiced concerns about the lack of public involvement and transparency in planning going forward. Mayor Martin Walsh’s support of the secretive process was a target of complaints.
The meeting, organized by various community groups and individuals including veterans of such movements as Black Lives Matter and Occupy Boston, was put together to enlist community members to oppose the bid and demand more community involvement.
“I was pleasantly surprised by how big the turnout was, and people seem ready to bring a lot of skills to the organizing table,” meeting organizer and Occupy veteran Robin Jacks told the Gazette today. “The community response was exactly how one would expect it to be: outrage at all these decisions being made behind closed doors, and that it’s happening without our consent. At the same time, people seem ready to work within a really short time frame, which is promising.”
The Olympics bid is being arranged by private committee Boston 2024, and has proposed the use of Franklin Park and various other venues without public input or notice, as the Gazette reported last week. The plan was created entirely privately and secretly, and still has not been released in print form. No one local was consulted, including the Franklin Park Coalition, the park’s nonprofit friends group.
An opposition organization called No Boston Olympics has been active for about a year, co-chair Chris Dempsey said at the meeting.
Boston 2024 Public Relations and Marketing Committee Co-Chair Doug Rubin attended the meeting, but meeting organizers declined to allow him to address the group. He did answer direct questions from community members.
“We are committed to having open community meetings” in the future, he said in response to a community member’s question. Rubin told the Gazette after the meeting that a schedule of community meetings around the city is expected likely next week.
“No final decisions [about venues] will be made without community outreach and consent,” he told the Gazette. “If [the communities] are not supportive, it won’t happen.”
Rubin added that some community outreach has been done, “at football games and stuff like that,” and that feedback received so far has been mostly positive.
But he agreed that community members were raising valid concerns.
“I think issues raised in there were legitimate. We’re glad to have the conversation,” he said.
Dempsey said at the meeting that No Boston Olympics members have “deep concerns about the process.”
“This bid was not going to be what the people of Boston wanted,” he said. “We have a month to do as much as we can” to oppose it, he said.
The meeting organizers agreed at the meeting to coordinate with Dempsey on further opposition efforts but did not agree to officially join No Boston Olympics. The JP anti-Olympics effort will hold further meetings and activist events, but none are yet scheduled. For more information, contact Jacks at [email protected].
The U.S. Olympic Committee is expected to choose between finalist cities Boston; Los Angeles; Washington, D.C.; and San Francisco early next year. The International Olympic Committee will then choose which world city will host the games in 2017.