Boston Police Sack Two Officers Who Protested Against COVID Vaccination Mandate

By Alice Giordano
Alice Giordano
Alice Giordano
Freelance reporter
Alice Giordano is a freelance reporter for The Epoch Times. She is a former news correspondent for The Boston Globe, Associated Press, and the New England bureau of The New York Times.
March 20, 2023Updated: March 21, 2023

Two Boston police officers, whose highly-public protests against the city’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate were at times controversial, have been fired.

One of the officers is Sgt. Shana Cottone, who hailed a hero in the Boston Marathon bombing and later for rescuing residents trapped in a burning building.

The other officer is Patrolman Joe Abasciano, a U.S. Marine veteran, who is also the subject of an ongoing investigation into his support for the Jan. 6 Capitol protests.

“This isn’t just a local story, it’s about progressives engaging in political purging of conservative voice,” Cottone told The Epoch Times.

Epoch Times Photo
Sgt. Shana Cottone—being interviewed at the front of the image—says she was only accused of misconduct after she began holding public protests against Boston’s instituted vaccine mandate for city employees. (Courtesy of Boston First Responders Union)

In a March 14 statement, the Boston Police Department confirmed the March 13 firing of Cottone and Abasciano, who did multiple tours in Iraq, citing misconduct and violating department policies as the reasons for their termination.

Cottone told The Epoch Times that she was only accused of misconduct after she began holding public protests against Boston Mayor Michelle Wu’s instituted vaccine mandate for city employees.

“Every single case against me, for which they fired me, was a direct result from my activism against COVID-19 mandates. Every single one,” said Cottone, who on several occasions brought her group Boston First Responders Union to rally outside Wu’s office against her vax mandates and “B Together” passport program that required proof of the COVID vaccine to enter a restaurant.

Wu, who publicly objected to the actions calling them “daily sunrise protests” in social media posts, passed a policy barring them from starting earlier than 9 a.m. in response to Cottone’s group.

Using a bullhorn, Cottone and other protesters chanted “Shame on Wu” outside her home. Some in the group called her a Nazi.

Epoch Times Photo
Boston police officer Sgt. Shana Cottone (R), at a protest in Boston against COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city workers. (Courtesy of Boston First Responders Union)

The day after Cottone and Abasciano’s firing, Wu praised Boston Police Commissioner Michael Cox for the decision.

“I support Commissioner Cox’s decision to move forward with termination for these officers,” Wu said on local radio station WGBH.

“Each has a separate set of actions and misconduct that was detailed, investigated, thorough due diligence conducted, and decided through the internal affairs department that there were multiple violations of departmental rules that should lead to termination.”

Abasciano, who organized Back the Blue rallies in protest of COVID mandates around Boston and Massachusetts, is also under an ongoing investigation into his support of the Jan. 6 Capitol protests.

“While in the department’s employ, Abasciano authored a series of social media posts that called into question his ability to provide police services in an unbiased and objective manner,” Cox said in a statement on the 13-year veteran’s recent firing with Cottone.

“Abasciano’s conduct impairs the operation of this department and its employees by diminishing the department’s reputation and trust within the community.”

Boston police car
A Boston Police car at Lansdowne St. before Game Six of the 2013 World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals at Fenway Park in Boston on Oct. 30, 2013. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

The day after he was fired, Abasciano told popular Boston conservative talk radio host Jeff Khuner that he was targeted by his superiors and other city officials for referring to Jan. 6 Capitol protesters in a tweet as patriots.

He called his firing part of a “witch hunt” over his opposition to COVID mandates and unconstitutional government overreach.

“I am having my constitutional rights violated,” Abasciano said in a statement released through his attorney William Gens.

“I am being terminated for violating a nonexistent social media policy where I never represented myself as a Boston police officer in any way and when I was on my own time. I never supported or condoned any acts of violence or violations of the law.”

Termination ‘Retaliation’

Cottone, who is planning to file a lawsuit against the city, said she was “pure and simple” fired out of retaliation for exercising her First Amendment rights over COVID-related mandates.

Before the COVID vaccine, Cottone was considered a local hero and even honored by standing ovations and cheering crowds at both a Celtics and Red Sox game.

She received a commendation for her acts of bravery when two bombs ignited at the 2013 Boston Marathon. The bombs—two homemade pressure cookers—were planted by two Russian-born brothers Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, both deemed later by the FBI as terrorists.

The bombing killed three people, including an 8-year-old local boy, and left several more permanently maimed. Both runners and bystanders who survived, lost limbs. Cottone treated several of the injured on the scene.

Ironically her firing comes one month short of the 10th anniversary of the Boston Marathon.

In 2015, Cottone again received a commendation for heroism, when she rushed into a fiery blaze in Boston while off duty. She was credited with saving several lives and pets.

In his statement confirming Cottone’s firing, Cox claimed there were seven separate internal affairs investigations that led to disciplinary action against Cottone and ultimately her firing.

‘Inability to Adhere to the Rules’

They included misconduct, neglect of duty, violations regarding directives and orders, respectful treatment, statement of opinions, and conformance to laws.

“Cottone’s conduct in these cases reflects a pattern and inability to adhere to the rules and procedures of this department,” Cox said in the statement.

“These violations, along with Cottone’s disciplinary history, render her unsuitable to continue her employment with the Boston Police Department and thus her employment has been terminated.”

As shown by internal records provided to The Epoch Times by Cottone herself about the alleged misconduct, the misconduct allegations against her included recording Wu when she told a pregnant police officer to get vaccinated or get fired.

She was also found to be engaged in police misconduct for staging disruptive protests outside of Wu’s home and for failing to assign a police detail unit to Wu’s home, which has long been a part of the department’s daily routine policy.

Cottone called it an oversight and that it was “corrected in less than 45 seconds.”

Pause on Mandate Status

She was also disciplined for refusing to wear a mask and show proof of vaccine at two separate Boston pizzerias while off duty. She also refused to leave the establishments after two of her fellow officers showed up and asked her to do so.

In addition to Cottone and Abasciano, other government workers have also been terminated after protesting against COVID-19 vaccine mandates including a Boston corrections officer who also participated in protests outside of Wu’s house.

The status of that mandate is currently on pause.

Last January, a Massachusetts appellate judge issued an injunction blocking Wu from disciplining city workers who refused to take the COVID vaccine shot.

Other states have already ruled that city workers cannot be fired for refusing the vaccine.

In October, a New York judge ruled that the city had to restore the jobs of NYPD officers and other city workers fired for refusing to take the jab against city policy.

Update: Clarification has been added on who made the comments outside Mayor Michelle Wu’s home.