“What we do matters.” “We are many, they are few.” “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.”
These phrases are what people trying to effect change often say quietly to avoid slouching into despair. Today, they are what crews of Bostonians are singing to one another over rowdy, joyous toasts, confident that their actions just beat back the most powerful plutocrats in town. Make no mistake about it: The 2024 Summer Olympics were on a runaway freight train toward Boston until serious groups of committed citizens got in the way. Local sports legends like Larry Bird and David Ortiz were part of the 30-person ceremonial board of directors preaching that the Olympics would be all financial boom and patriotic pageantry. The powerful—and less telegenic—brokers behind them had the money, the media, and the mayor. But they did not have the people, and that made all the difference.
Do not listen to the city’s embarrassing mayor, Marty Walsh, who is trying to pose as if the bid was pulled because he stood up and refused to sign a document this week “that puts one dollar of taxpayer money on the line for one penny of overruns on the Olympics.” His hurried spin is so amateurish, it seems to have been diagrammed with scented Magic Markers. Walsh has been an Olympic booster from day one, and taxpayers’ picking up the tab on Olympic spending has been a standard part of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) hosting agreements since before Jesse Owens was in diapers. In a slapdash press conference, Walsh tried to get in front of the collapse of his city’s bid by saying that, as much as he loves the Olympics, they are not “worth handing over the financial future of our City and our citizens were rightly hesitant to be supportive as a result.”
They became “rightly hesitant” just hours after Walsh derided Olympic adversaries by saying, “The opposition for the most part is about 10 people on Twitter.” This actually sparked the hashtag trend #10PeopleOnTwitter, as masses of people mocked the idea that those concerned about the debt, displacement, and militarization of public space brought by the Olympic games were only a minuscule minority. As local activist Kade Crockford tweeted, “Honestly the city of Boston deserves an apology from this mayor for how he tried to force the Olympics on us.”