An estimated 1000 demonstrators marched on Government Center at noon yesterday to protest Mayor Kevin H. White's layoff of 400 policemen and firefighters.
Chanting "Kevin, Kevin, what do you say? What did you do with our money today?" the marchers carried black coffins representing the city of Boston, the police and the fire departments.
White has said the layoffs and the shutdown of several neighborhood police and fire stations were necessary to prepare Boston for Proposition 2 1/2, the tax-cut that goes into effect this July. "It's a political problem. The state will have to solve the problems of 2 1/2." White added at a news conference yesterday.
Standing in front of City Hall, James Kelly, coordinator of the march, told the crowd "The problem is not 2 1/2; the problem is right here"
Steve M. Doris, City Hall director of security described the demonstrators as "very orderly."
"Our current problem has to do with the irresponsible, unsound and outrageous fiscal policies of this administration." Edward F. King, main speaker at the rally and the author of Proposition 2 1/2, added.
Boston City Council President Patrick McDonough said at the rally. "The question here today is: are we, the citizens of Boston, going to rule ourselves, or be ruled by the mighty Kevin White? He's ruling for the benefit of himself, his friends, and no one else.
The demonstrators showed their approval with cries of "Recall! Recall!", referring to the City Council's proposed recall bill that would allow for referenda to dismiss elected public officials.
After the demonstration King said that White cut the public services "to punish the voters for passing Proposition 2 1/2." Noting that the proposition will not take effect until July 1, he said the police and firefighters were laid off because White "has managed the city badly" and he would rather pay his public relations staff than finance "the first function of government, public safety."
White also announced at his press conference that the Boston public school systera officially runs out of money today and the city is not going to provide it with any financial aid. He added that if Superior Court Judge Thomas Morse orders the schools to be kept open until June 19, their scheduled closing date, he will appeal the order.