Boston Mayor Michelle Wu unfollows X users after they ask her to stop sending police to encampments

Michelle Wu

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu unfollows X users after they criticize police response to Emerson College protests

"Will you please stop sending the cops to attack my friends for opposing genocide?"


Tricia Crimmins


Posted on Apr 29, 2024   Updated on Apr 30, 2024, 12:51 pm CDT

Michelle Wu, the Mayor of Boston, unfollowed multiple progressive organizers on X after they criticized her for sending police to Emerson College to take down a student-led protest encampment. Almost 120 people were arrested and students were handled forcefully by police.

The Emerson encampment was assembled by students on April 21. On April 25, Boston police went to the encampment to break it up. Wu said on Friday that she directed the police response.

“The [police] commissioner and I jointly agreed that the growing encampment needed to be removed in order to address the public safety and fire hazards that it presented,” Wu said in a statement to the Boston Globe. “It was within the jurisdiction of the commissioner and his department to plan and oversee the details of implementation.”

Students said they were zip-tied, from which they had “open wounds.” Video shows police holding protestors down and dragging them as students scream.

Also on April 24, Boston police raided a student protest encampment at Northeastern University and arrested another 102 people.

In the days following, Wu has received massive backlash. She canceled an appearance at Harvard University after University affinity groups withdrew their sponsorship from the event, and has gotten a barrage of criticism online. Her response has been unfollowing those who criticized her, many of whom she followed during her mayoral campaign.

Aaron Narraph Fernando, a New York law student and progressive organizer, tweeted yesterday afternoon that he remembered Wu followed him on X and sent her a message about the Boston police response to the Emerson encampment.

“I’m disgusted that you sent cops to arrest NEU & Emerson students protesting U.S. funding of genocide in Gaza,” Fernando tweeted, alongside a link to send Wu a letter in opposition to the police response. “Call off the cops, drop the charges, and call for a ceasefire.”

Six hours after posting his initial tweet, Fernando posted that Wu had unfollowed him.

Fernando told the Daily Dot that Wu followed him “a while back” at a time when she was following back many progressive organizers on X.

“I’ve never interacted with her or anything,” Fernando said. “It was interesting how quickly she unfollowed me and others after being called out.”

Jonah Gottlieb, a California-based progressive organizer, had a similar experience. In response to Fernando’s tweet, he also tweeted that Wu followed him and that he was against the police response at Emerson.

“Hey @wutrain, I see you also follow me!” Gottlieb tweeted. “Will you please stop sending the cops to attack my friends for opposing genocide?”

Three hours after he tweeted at Wu, she unfollowed him as well.

Gottlieb told the Daily Dot that Wu started following him when she was campaigning for Mayor in 2021. Gottlieb was involved in Senator Ed Markey’s (D-Mass.) 2020 campaign and during the 2020 Massachusetts mayoral primaries, he supported Wu.

“She followed a lot of [Markey’s] young supporters in an effort to tap into the grassroots network we built in order to generate progressive youth enthusiasm for her campaign,” Gottlieb told the Daily Dot.

Years later, Gottlieb said Wu has now “turned her back on the young people who worked so hard to elect her”—and that her current behavior is a “distraction from what’s happening in Palestine.”

“While Mayor Wu engages in petty social media fights, Israel continues to bomb Palestinian civilians,” Gottlieb said.

After Gottlieb and Fernando’s tweets went viral, others who were followed by Wu tweeted at her saying she should unfollow them as well.

“It looks like you’re unfollowing people who are upset about the 118 violent arrests at Emerson, the broken bones, and the blood seeping into the brickwork, all of which you signed off on,” Angus Abercrombie, an Emerson College student and Belmont, Massachusetts town meeting member tweeted. “If that’s the case, we don’t need to be mutuals anymore.”

Abercrombie told the Daily Dot that Wu followed him on X during her mayoral campaign. In response to the mass arrest at Emerson, Abercrombie coordinated the student government’s no confidence vote on College President Jay Bernhardt.

Like Abercrombie, Jack Murray, the Political Director of Central Massachusetts Young Democrats, also tweeted at Wu, asking her to unfollow him on X.

“Since I’m hearing [Wu] is unfollowing those who speak out against the authoritarian display of state-sanctioned violence and censorship against students, go ahead and add me to your shit list,” Murray tweeted. “You’re a fraud who turns your back on supporters to discourage dissent.”

Murray told the Daily Dot that Wu’s actions suppressed the freedom of speech—and that she hasn’t yet unfollowed him.

“Maybe her team is taking a much-needed break from social media,” he said.

This story has been updated with additional information.

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*First Published: Apr 29, 2024, 4:02 pm CDT