This year, Parks and Recreation Commissioner Chris Cook has informed MassCANN, the organizers of the Boston Freedom Rally,

“As a steward of the park, and in order to ensure that is remains usable to all visitors, the City requires event permitees to abide by their permit conditions. As a result, the City is modifying the terms of your permit for 2019, but limiting the duration of the event to one day. Your event will be permitted for the following hours:

Friday, 9/19/19 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. SET UP ONLY
Saturday, 9/20/19 12:00 p/m/ to 8:00 p.m. EVENT HOURS
Sunday, 9/21/19 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. TAKE DOWN ONLY

Limiting the event to one day for 2019 will ensure that the park is protected from sustained damage and the City can properly monitor permit conditions.”

The Commissioner states that MassCANN has eight serious permit violations including the responsibility of removing trash generated by event attendees and to clean up litter in and around the event boundaries. “Your event completely failed to comply with this condition and left a voluminous, widespread and unacceptable accumulation of trash and litter on the Common.”

For many years the Friends has opposed the continued use of Boston Common for the Boston Freedom Rally, due to its flagrant violation of the conditions of their permit and the negative impact it has on other park users. Each year this event has grown, both in number of days and number of participants, but this past year there were more widespread permit violations, placing an unacceptable burden on the park. There were mountains of trash including paper, cans of cooking oil, cardboard boxes, and plastic bags of trash. The Boston Freedom Rally had requested and been issued a three-day event permit with an additional two days of set up and take down time, effectively using over half the Common for five days, blocking residents and visitors from enjoying a large portion of the park.

As a result of the 2018 disruption and deplorable damage to the park, Parks Commissioner Chris Cook, as well as representatives of the Boston Police Department testified about the Boston Freedom Rally before the City Council on November 14, 2018. Liz Vizza testified on behalf of the Friends, as well as a larger coalition of voices from around the parks including the Bay Village Neighborhood Association, Beacon Hill Business Association, Beacon Hill Civic Association, Chinatown Residents Association, Downtown Boston Residents Association, Hill House, the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay, Park Street School, and Spruce Street School. This coalition represents over 55,000 people from all of these communities who consider the Common their neighborhood park, as well as schools and organizations serving Boston’s children and youth who regularly use the Common..

We are hopeful that the one-day event permit will allow everyone to enjoy the Common and for MassCANN to have their event.