Testimony by Cassie Hurd at the 6/26 City Council Hearing on Boston 2024 Venues and Financing
The following testimony was given by Cassie Hurd on behalf of No Boston 2024 and the Boston Homeless Solidarity Committee at the hearing of the Boston City Council's Special Committee on the 2024 Olympics on Friday, June 26, 2015:
My name is Cassie Hurd; I'm an Allston resident and am here on behalf of No Boston 2024 and the Boston Homeless Solidarity Committee. I was immediately concerned when Boston was picked by the USOC in January as I knew the legacy of displacement the Games have historically left in their wake. My concerns have now broadened after learning of the host of human rights atrocities and the increased militarization and surveillance that have become the rule and not the exception for host cities and have had lasting negative impact on citizens, disproportionately on marginalized communities.
Through this process, or lack thereof, we have seen the corruption of hosting the Games first hand, especially at the hands of the Mayor. Walsh has looked out for the best interests of the private endeavor of Boston 2024 instead of the citizens who elected him—keeping secrets from the community while publicly demanding transparency, and being too negligent to even bother to read the bid to ensure it was in the city's best interest and then outright lying about it. To say Walsh and his office's relationship with Boston 2024 has been problematic is kind.
However, what I am here to talk about today is my original concern, displacement. Boston 2024 has claimed a "no displacement" policy. This in itself I find troubling as there currently is no plan in place to guarantee this; Boston 2024 claims that their policy doesn't require a plan. I have concerns about displacement of those who would not be housed at the time of the Games. The current proposed venues of the Olympic Stadium and Franklin Park are in close proximity to many service providers for the homeless, including the Woods Mullen Shelter, the new Southampton Street Shelter, Boston Healthcare for the Homeless, Pine Street Inn, and the Shattuck Shelter. Areas surrounding venues have heightened security that, at minimum, could cause difficulties for individuals who are homeless and seeking services or shelter. Furthermore, at past Games, homeless folks have been bussed out of host cities, criminalized and arrested to "clean up the streets," or encouraged to "move on" through the phasing out of services in the lead-up to the Games.
Many of you have voiced concerns—some more than others, and I thank you—while you all have said you are still listening and learning. Please listen to the community as well as Boston 2024. I'm asking you to oppose the bid and prevent the private investors presenting this plan and the IOC from taking over Boston. I ask this of you not because I don't "believe in Boston," but because I love Boston and believe all citizens of Boston deserve to not only survive here, but to thrive here. In order to be the world-class city we strive to be, we need to take care of our communities, including those most vulnerable. History has proven hosting the Games will in no way be the catalyst for this. As you listen and learn, please do the right thing and oppose the bid.