BOSTON — A Boston City Council hearing on the hot-button issue of redistricting was stopped in its tracks on Wednesday, after one councilor verbally assaulted another councilor, accusing her of an “all-out assault” on Catholics in Boston.
It all started when City Councilor Frank Baker, who represents District 3, talked about a call he said he received from a Catholic priest, concerned about the redistricting process. Baker’s district includes most of Dorchester and a portion of South Boston and the South End.
Baker said the priest, “on a side note,” said the clergy are all talking about this redistricting process, “And they’re viewing this exercise as an all-out assault on Catholic life in Boston. And it’s not lost on them that the person leading the charge is a Protestant from (Northern Ireland).”
Video of the Baker’s remarks was streamed live by the city council and led to audible gasps before an unplanned recess was called.
Baker’s message was meant for City Councilor Councilor Liz Breadon who represents District 9. Breadon immigrated to the United States from Northern Ireland in 1995 and lives in Oak Square, Brighton.
She called the comments by Baker a “personal attack.”
“The greatest travesty in Northern Ireland’s history was the systematic disenfranchisement of Catholic people in Northern Ireland,” said Breadon. “I have committed my adult life to try and fix the wrongs in the world.”
“This is my home, and it is an insult to me to have a colleague in this city council insinuate that I am discriminating against Catholics,” said Breadon. “That is not what’s happening here. I am standing up for the rights of our minority communities.”
“This is an insult. It is an absolute disgrace,” said Breadon. “I am just trying to do my job. We are trying to do the best for all of Boston and I take it as a personal attack that anyone would doubt my sincerity and commitment to this process.”
You can view some of Breadon’s response to Baker below.
Councilor Baker later tried to backtrack on his comments.
“That was unlike me,” said Baker. “I apologize, first to the chair and to the body also. A good Catholic boy like myself shouldn’t do that or be like that.”
Baker asked for his earlier comments to be stricken from the record “if possible.”
“I’m heated because I think that neighborhoods that are in District 3, that happen to be Catholic, are under attack.”
The city council has been working on redistricting plans for months. It started with meetings in each district this past spring.
The new Boston legislative district map was later approved on Wednesday by the city council by a vote of 9-4 and now heads to Mayor Michelle Wu for review.
District maps are reviewed every 10 years, following the release of new Census data “to ensure that districts reflect changes in population and diversity.”
This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.
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