By Michael Coughlin Jr.
Just before 7 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 17, activists protesting Eversource’s electric substation blocked the entrance to the construction site at 400 Condor Street, leading to multiple arrests.
According to a press release from Extinction Rebellion Boston (XR), a group that has vehemently opposed the substation, six of their activists were arrested early Tuesday morning during the demonstration.
At the time of this writing, the Boston Police Department’s (BPD) Office of Media Relations could not provide any information on the arrests.
Jule Manitz, an XR Activist, indicated that she was none too pleased with the response from BPD.
“I am very impressed with how fast the police has acted because construction is not allowed to get started before seven, and we did not block any construction, so this was a proactive arrest,” said Manitz.
“We should be able to be here to state our opinion that we still don’t like the substation, and I don’t understand why we are not allowed to say these things anymore.”
XR’s Song and Chant Leader Nora Maynard also did not seem thrilled with BPD’s response alluding to the fact that it seemed excessive.
“I would say that the police response was unnecessary in its magnitude. There were at least 20 police officers and several large vehicles, and there just weren’t that many of us here,” said Maynard.
Following the arrests, activists moved to the other side of the street opposite the entrance of the construction site holding a large banner that read “No Eastie Substation.” The activists then held signs, sang songs, and chanted in opposition to the substation.
This latest demonstration is not the first protest in recent memory, as there was a smaller one last week. In a fight that has drawn on for almost a decade, it seems like the situation has reached a boiling point.
The most significant issue with the substation among these activists is safety because there are concerns about flooding at the site. Moreover, the site is directly across from a playground, and activists fear flooding could lead to a disastrous explosion.
“It’s [the site] is in a flood zone, and these things tend to explode when flooded. The location is not good; it needs to be moved to Massport,” said Manitz.
Now XR is calling on Governor Maura Healey to step in and do something about the construction before it is too late.
“She [Healey] is in office; she has power; she can do this now. We have been talking with her, GreenRoots has been talking with her for over a week now, and it’s time to actually put power and to put action behind her words of opposing the substation and work with us, the community,” said Manitz.
“We would very much like for the Governor Maura Healey to get the message that the community and the environment would be very poorly served by this substation being built right here,” said Maynard.
Furthermore, Maynard made the point that a lot of frustration has come out of this process because it does not seem like the community is being listened to. Just a couple of years ago, in a 2021 ballot question, over 80% of voters opposed the substation’s construction.
“Why would the public think that their vote or their voice is worthwhile if nothing that they ever say actually comes into action,” said Maynard.
As tensions rise in the saga of the Eversource substation, Manitz urged residents to come out and make their voices heard.
“I want to say to not be afraid to join us; you can be part of this. You can be chanting, you can be singing with us, you can be part of this and this opposition,” said Manitz.