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(en) US, Boston, Media: -A- Protesters prepare for July convention

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Sun, 15 Feb 2004 22:01:22 +0100 (CET)


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Globe: She goes by the name ``Mothra,'' and her first act of
protest came in eighth grade when she wrote an essay explaining
why she would not pledge allegiance to the US flag.
Yesterday, the 21-year-old Massachusetts College of Art film
student confronted a higher-profile target: the 2004 Democratic
National Convention, scheduled for late July in Boston. Mothra
was among the dozens of mostly young activists who gathered in a
Back Bay church for a weekend crash course in protesting the
convention - all aimed at resisting what they view as corporate
influences, out-of-touch politicians, and wasted taxpayer money.

``All the local businesses owned by working-class people aren't
going to get anything,'' said Mothra, originally from Taunton. ``No
one's going to want to go to `Joe's Salami Shop' in the North End.
They're all going to want to go to the Armani Cafe.''

That theme of sticking up for the underserved was just one thread
that ran through yesterday's ``resistance consulta,'' sponsored by
the Boston-based Bl(A)ck Tea Society, a loosely knit group of
anarchists and antiauthoritarian activists formed in July to mobilize
against the convention. Among other topics: strategies on smart
street protesting (don't get dehydrated; do protect your face
against tear gas), and assurances that legal and medical aid would
be available for those arrested or hurt during the protests.

The Bl(A)ck Tea Society plans no marches or rallies, although it
hopes to arrange an open-air concert and an ``alternative village''
that would disseminate information on politics and current issues.
Members dismissed the stereotype of unruly activists running
around breaking windows or creating havoc - although they
acknowledged that a little street theater or traffic disruption would
not hurt.

Society member Elly Guillette of Cambridge predicted that few of
the anarchists, if any, would confine themselves to
police-designated ``protest pens.''

``We're not a threat to anyone,'' said Guillette, 27, an analyst for a
consulting company. ``We're all committed to nonviolence. We
should be able to talk to pedestrians. We should be able to talk to
anyone.''

She added: ``If we disrupt the convention, that's awesome.''

Yesterday, about 60 people gathered inside the Community Church
of Boston on Boylston Street, dissecting the convention and
pressing issues in Boston, such as skyrocketing housing costs.

The afternoon's question-and-answer session was closed to the
media and other ``authoritarians'' (although someone pointed out
that such exclusions were undemocratic).

In the audience, sitting on folding chairs, were high school and
college students, workers, and freelance writers. Some were clad
entirely in black with piercings and chains; others wore
button-down shirts and corduroys. A few went by pseudonyms. A
map of the United States - labeled ``Loose Confederation of
Autonomous Non-States of Far Northern Mexico'' - hung on a wall
with stickers marking where the activists live.

Jose Martin hitchhiked from Chicago and wore a black shirt that
carried Patrick Henry's famous quote, ``Give me liberty or give me
death.''

``Mass mobilizations are events based on hope,'' Martin said
during a lunch break. ``They're an attempt to create links between
movements that are local and national and even global. It makes
people much more interested in political activity.''

Using a yardstick as a pointer and an overhead projector for
hand-drawn street maps, Andrew Little, 21, of Cambridge, led the
crowd through the basics - the security zones around the
FleetCenter, quick descriptions of neighborhoods, and the best
places to distribute political messages.

Little also warned that a fence probably would be erected around
the FleetCenter.

The subject of police arose again when Guillette outlined local
issues that protesters should know about, such as the lack of
union contracts for nearly all of Boston's public employees,
including the police. Some in the audience derided the police for the
ultra-heavy security, but others noted that they were just doing
their jobs.

``Cops are not the enemy ... they're people just like us,'' one woman
said.

Another shouted: ``The state is the enemy, and cops are the state!''

Guillette quickly changed the subject. Later, she acknowledged
that police officers or other security officials probably showed up
yesterday in plain clothes, saying that the Bl(A)ck Tea Society's
meetings had been infiltrated before. ``We have a policy - assume
everyone's a cop,'' Guillette said.

Boston police spokeswoman Mariellen Burns said officials are
aware of groups planning to protest the convention and will release
a more detailed security plan this spring.

``We've been preparing for 14 months,'' Burns said. ``Do we have
more work to do? Absolutely. But do we feel like we're prepared?
Absolutely.''


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