Arrested At Massachusetts State House In 2022, Former Randolph Woman Still Faces Charges Over Covid Protest

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2024/01/16/arrested-at-massachusetts-state-house-in-2022-former-randolph-woman-still-faces-charges-over-covid-protest/

For the vast majority of people, the experience of Covid lockdowns is past, a thing almost of distant memory. But for some, it lingers.

Michelle Efendi, 37, a mother of four who lived in Randolph, Massachusetts at the time, protested against vaccine passports and mask mandates at the Massachusetts State House on March 1, 2022. She was arrested and charged with trespassing and assault, both misdemeanors. Her next court hearing is on Tuesday, January 16 — 2024.

Efendi with her four children (Courtesy).

Efendi, who now lives in Florida, was initially told she would have to attend her hearing in person, but has now been told she can attend online via Zoom.

She said previous requests to dismiss the charges have been denied.

Efendi, who told New Boston Post she has never gotten a coronavirus vaccine, began protesting a few months before her arrest at the State House — in December 2021, when Boston Mayor Michelle Wu announced a vaccine passport system.

“COVID wasn’t terrifying anymore,” Efendi said in a recent telephone interview with NewBostonPost. “What was now terrifying was the government and them telling me that, no, this is really the reality when it so obviously wasn’t.”

Efendi said something similar during an appearance on December 20, 2023, on the Ask Dr. Drew podcast. “The emergency,” Efendi said on the show, was the “elected officials violating our rights.”

Efendi says she was not always against Covid protection measures.

“It was a buildup, but this was the red line for me,” Efendi said. “I didn’t realize the ramifications of it, but as things went on, it did start to bother me.”

One example:  she was forced to give birth while wearing a mask.

When the requirements didn’t subsist, Efendi began to protest — though that’s not a term she prefers.

“I don’t even like to use the word ‘protest’,” Efendi said. “What I realized was that I needed to resume my everyday life.”

To resist, Efendi would go to places that required a mask, go in without a mask, and wait for employees to tell her to go away — including the USS Constitution Museum in Charlestown and Boston Public Library in the Back Bay.

She got people’s attention. Last summer, when it was revealed that Mayor Wu sent a so-called “enemies list” of vocal critics of her administration to Boston police, Efendi’s name appeared on it.

On the day of her arrest on Beacon Hill, Efendi says she walked into a tent next to the State House where state law enforcement officers were. When a law enforcement officer began placing another protester under arrest for trespassing, Efendi squeezed past the officer into the tent in order to be arrested in solidarity with her fellow protester, she told NewBostonPost.

As for the assault charge, she says she has no idea when she supposedly assaulted someone.

“If I did, it would have been just like walking past somebody on the MBTA,” Efendi said. “Really. It would have been like being at a parade. You can see the man that I allegedly assaulted standing there with his hands in his pocket.”

Videos of the incident appear to show Efendi walking into the tent and immediately being arrested by a state trooper. She is not being charged with assaulting a police officer.

A spokesman for Massachusetts State Police could not be reached, after several attempts.

NewBostonPost also contacted the office of Kevin Hayden, the district attorney for Suffolk County, which includes the city of Boston. A spokesman could not be reached.

Efendi said she is a victim of selective prosecution. Statistics compiled by Efendi’s lawyers show a vast majority of “non-targeted protesters,” people arrested who were not on Mayor Wu’s so-called “enemies list,” escaping charges. 

According to the sheet (a separate link for it is at the bottom of this story), 114 protesters have been arrested in Suffolk County concerning “race issues, climate change, LGBTQ matters, and the Palestine conflict.” Of the 41 people who faced felony charges, only seven cases were not dismissed. Two of those people were found guilty. Four cases were continued without a finding, meaning that charges against the defendants will be dismissed after a time if no other criminal charges against them are brought during that period.

Both charges against Efendi are misdemeanors. According to her lawyers’ court filing, of the 73 protesters who were charged with misdemeanors, all of those cases have been dismissed. 

For those convicted, most of the sentences required only community service. Some didn’t even receive that — including eight cases of larceny over $1,200, one case of inciting a riot, and two cases of assault and battery on a police officer.

Meanwhile, the four people who are known to be on Mayor Wu’s enemies list who are facing charges have had pending cases for roughly 18 months.

“It was really important that the data speak for itself and me not for it,” Efendi told NewBostonPost.

Efendi said she has no criminal history.

“I don’t have any record. I’ve never even had a parking ticket. So I didn’t know what was going to happen or how it was going to end,” she said. “I thought it was just going to end, and then it didn’t.”

As a mother of four, Efendi said she was concerned about how she was going to get to Massachusetts for the court hearing before being allowed to attend her hearing over Zoom.

“It’s not just a little baby,” she said, “I actually have four children. One of them is a special needs toddler that has appointments three or four times a week, and I’m his sole caregiver. I have two homeschooling children. I’m in Florida.”

Efendi said she feels she is being silenced for her efforts to protest against the Covid mandates and against Mayor Wu specifically.

“I believe that I was arrested on March 1st in an attempt to silence my civil rights, which are to participate in peaceful protest,” she said. “And it’s working, because now I don’t protest anymore.”

 

Prosecution Statistics

 

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