BOSTON (CBS) — Last week, Boston City Council met to consider banning the use of masks on public property in response to a confrontation between police and protesters during a straight pride parade last summer.

Some argue that people wearing masks are up to no good, while others characterize it as a free speech issue. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said the masks can be dangerous.

“In a situation like a straight pride parade, it becomes dangerous and a public safety issue,” Walsh said. “We want people to come in and be respectful and public safety is the first thing…I haven’t taken a formal position on it but it’s dangerous.”

Walsh was clear that Muslim women would still be allowed to cover their faces at protests for religious reasons.

The reason police did not wear body cameras at the straight pride parade, Walsh said, was because they simply did not have them. He said by the end of 2020, everyone officer will have them.

Walsh said that despite expectations, there hasn’t been a huge increase in traffic near the new Encore Boston Harbor casino in Everett, partly due to city shuttle buses.

“The area where we are feeling squeezed is the area of service workers and those working hospitality,” he said. “The casinos pay a higher wage and that’s where we are seeing a little bit of a squeeze.”

Walsh said he supports casinos because they can hold benefits for the city.

Boston City Councilor-At-Large Michelle Wu recently claimed that the Boston Planning and Development Agency should be abolished because it serves the interests of developers over that of the public.

Walsh, who has been pro-development since his days as a union leader, said he disagrees with Wu.

“She’s wrong because we are doing a lot of planning in the agency,” he said. “We realized not a lot of planning was going on in the city of Boston and we just stuck to wholesale changes.

“Planning is really about the growth of the city and making sure housing is there and that infrastructure is there,” Walsh continued. “We were not prepared for the housing crisis that we are facing with the new jobs and new people in the city. And we are seeing with the MBTA…the stress on the transportation system.”

Walsh also disagreed with Wu that there is lack of public say in development planning.

“The community does get heard,” he said. “I respect Michelle and she is a friend, but putting out a report that criticizes the development of the Prudential Tower doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

Jon Keller

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