Bomb Threats Hit Synagogues Days After Woke Boston Lawmakers Reject Federal Anti-Terror Grant

A state senator introduced legislation to strip the council's power to reject public safety grants.
Boston city councilor Ruthie Louijeune
Councilor Louijeune argued that the city has to ensure grants are not “doing more harm than good in our black — in all of our communities —  and especially our black and brown communities.” (Photo by Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

More than 30 synagogues in Massachusetts were targeted with bomb threats on Sunday, just days after its largest city, Boston, rejected millions of dollars in federal anti-terrorism grant money due to the belief that funding law enforcement could be racist.

The city council rejected the grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in a contentious 6 to 6 vote, with the opposition arguing that giving more funds to law enforcement would “do more harm than good” to minority communities. The grant was intended to fund “planning, exercises, trainings, and operational needs, that will help prevent, respond to and recover from threats or acts of terrorism, including chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive incidents,” according to a letter from Boston Mayor Michelle Wu to the council.

Sunday’s bomb threats would be the sort of incidents the Metro Boston Homeland Security Region would use the funding to train for. Police responded to the bomb threats — which turned out to be hoaxes — and swept several synagogues, where no explosives were found.

The council’s decision deprives several surrounding towns that are within the Metro Boston Homeland Security Region of the benefits from the funding as Boston is the lead city that has the authority to accept the funding. Brookline, one of the towns impacted, had two synagogues threatened directly by an email stating that bombs were inside the buildings and would go off in a few hours, a spokesperson for the town’s police department told The Daily Wire.

“Unfortunately these incidents have happened at temples from time to time,” public information officer Paul Campbell said. “Upon learning of this most recent bomb hoax, we sent a message to all of the Jewish institutions, advising them of the incident to at least make them aware and so they could contact us if they needed us.”

Councilor Michael Flaherty, who voted in favor of the anti-terrorism funding, said the rejection was an embarrassment.

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“Nonsensical and embarrassing, where several councilors did not support the Mayor’s office of Emergency Management,” Flaherty said according to the Boston Herald. “Not only did they fail the residents of Boston, they failed eight other cities and towns that were depending on this funding to protect themselves against acts of terrorism.”

Council President Ed Flynn said the funding is important considering the city’s history of terror attacks — noting not only the Boston Marathon bombing, but also that terrorists departed from Boston’s Logan International Airport before hijacking planes that crashed into the World Trade Towers on September 11, 2011.

“Boston is not immune from these issues, unfortunately,” Flynn said, according to the Boston Herald.

FBI Boston spokesperson Kristen Cetera urged the community to “remain vigilant” after Sunday’s threats.

“The FBI takes hoax threats very seriously because it puts innocent people at risk,” she said. “While we have no information to indicate a specific and credible threat, we will continue to work with our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners to gather, share, and act upon threat information as it comes to our attention.”

State Police trooper Brandon Doherty said hundreds of other Jewish institutions received similar threats nationwide over the weekend.

The State Police Hate Crime Awareness and Response Team, a unit that was established several weeks ago, will communicate with religious leaders about follow-up concerns they may have related to the threats,” Doherty told The Daily Wire.

The votes opposing the funding came from Councilors Ricardo Arroyo, Liz Breadon, Kendra Lara, Ruthzee Louijeune, Julia Mejia, and Brian Worrell.

Lara, who lost her reelection bid and appeared in court earlier this year for crashing into a house with her child in the car, skipped work last week for a “Global Strike for Gaza,” The Daily Mail reported.

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Louijeune, during the meeting, said there needed to be more “community conversation” before moving forward with grants, arguing that the city had to ensure “we’re not doing more harm than good in our black — in all of our communities —  and especially our black and brown communities.”

BRIC, the Boston police department intelligence gathering wing, has been under fire in recent years by critics who claim it disproportionately tracks people of color with its gang database. After heated debate, $3.4 million from four years’ worth of held-up state funding for BRIC passed in October, according to WBUR.

A Democrat state senator said the vote enabled politics to come before public health and responded by introducing legislation on Friday to strip the Boston City Council of the power to approve public safety grants.

“The bill would ensure access to federal and state funds designated to assist our municipal partners is providing the highest level of public health and safety services in a dangerous world.” Nick Collins who represents South Boston told the Boston Herald. 

Under Collin’s legislation, the state legislature and the governor would approve funding rather than local councils.

Wu plans to refile the grant next year after newly elected members of the city council take office.

Wu and the city councilors did not respond to a request for comment.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Bomb Threats Hit Synagogues Days After Woke Boston Lawmakers Reject Federal Anti-Terror Grant