State House locked down after protesters enter building

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Leo Woods

Police lights seen outside of Suffolk’s Sawyer Building

Protesters against state mask and vaccine mandates attempted to access a press conference at the Massachusetts State House Tuesday morning, causing a lockdown of the building after they started chanting inside the building.

State Police cars lined the sides of Bowdoin Street and Ashburton Place, and black SUVs with emergency lights flashing could be seen from Suffolk’s Samia building just after 10:45 a.m.

State Police said in a statement that about 10 protesters pushed past a security checkpoint inside the State House while seeking access to a press conference held by Governor Charlie Baker around 10:30 a.m., prompting the lockdown. The protesters had all left the building by about 12:30 p.m..

State Police Spokesperson David Procopio said no arrests were made.

Dorchester resident and protester Catherine Vitale spoke to reporters outside of the building, claiming that she had been “dragged out” of the building after attempting to push out of the lobby and into the room where Baker’s press conference was taking place.

“We just came to witness the press conference really to try to face Baker because he’s not accessible anywhere else,” she said.

Vitale reported that she was among the group who protested  the Boston vaccine and mask mandates on Mayor Michelle Wu’s front lawn a few weeks ago.

“We can’t get near Baker’s house so we have to try to find him at public appearances just to talk to him,” Vitale said.

Throughout the pandemic, protesters have been demonstrating outside of Baker’s house in Swampscott.

The State House has been closed to the public since March of 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and The Boston Globe reported some protesters could be heard chanting, “Open the State House to the People.”