Boston City Councilor and mayoral candidate Michelle Wu told Boston Public Radio on Tuesday that she support’s the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s decision to sever ties with one of its alums, Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., in the wake of last week’s attack on the U.S. Capitol by pro-Trump extremists.
“In this case, particularly when this organization and this institution is about building the minds and the ideas to lead in our government and to form the support for public service going into the future, we cannot have a double standard of people who are able to support a violent, armed insurrection,” Wu said.
Stefanik has promoted President Donald Trump’s repeated lies about interference in the 2020 election and was among the Republican lawmakers who opposed certifying the electoral college votes ahead of last Wednesday’s attempted coup.
Wu is herself a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School and a member of the Senior Advisory Committee to the Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics, which Stefanik was ousted from Tuesday.
“We are just days to the end of a presidency that has really shaken the core of our democracy … and we saw that it got to the point where the legacy was sealed, with lives lost because of a coup [attempt] that was incited by the president himself,” Wu said.
Asked whether she’s opposed to Stefanik speaking at Harvard or other universities in the future, the city councilor said that while freedom of speech is an “essential tenet” of U.S. democracy, she objects to validating government officials who’ve supported the anti-democratic effort.
“To involve people and to validate their contributions as part of a perspective that needs to be interwoven into shaping the next generation of young people who’ll be passing the torch of leadership … that is not appropriate,” she said.
Wu also offered thoughts on the work of outgoing Boston Mayor Marty Walsh to reform the city’s police department. Calling the mayor’s creation of the Office of Police Accountability and Transparency an “important step forward,” she said efforts by the city need to “start much further upstream than that.”
“Public safety is completely intertwined with public health, and what we saw here in Boston through the body camera footage that was released shows a [police] culture that needs to be changed and leadership that needs to be changed.”