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(en) US, Boston, Anarchist Youth Lead Unpermitted March -- Five Unprovoked Arrests

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Mon, 21 Mar 2005 21:40:38 +0100 (CET)


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Like many others across the world, on March 20 -- a global day of
action--thousands of Bostonians gathered on the Boston Common
to protest the continuing US occupation of Iraq. The crowd size was
large enough to make it difficult to estimate, with figures running
between two and five thousand. Local activists, veterans of the
invasion and occupation of Iraq and those with loved ones in the
military spoke out powerfully against the war, mixed with a
multicultural cast of musicians. The plan had been to close the rally
with direct action, blockading the entrance to a near-by military
recruiting station. In response, the military recruiting station simply
never opened for the day.

Instead, the final speaker, Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner,
urged everyone still at the rally (a couple hundred people -- the rally
ran far over time) to join an unpermitted march originally planned
by a group of young anarchists. The march snaked through the
streets of downtown Boston before returning to Boston Common.
There, some of the police began unprovoked attacks on activists,
shoving people to the ground and arresting five. A stand-off ensued,
with the police eventually pulling back. Plans are underway to
support those arrested in court.

I got to the Common around 12:30, a half-hour before the rally was
scheduled to happen, to see what was going on with the group of
young anarchists who had called for an unpermitted march at
12:30. One of them, Cameron Pond, explained, why they were not
planning to go the large rally: "I would rather take to the streets.
People won't take us as seriously if we don't take direct
action. We can't keep waiting for the right moment -- nothing
will happen. The right moment is now. We have to forcibly take our
victory, by being out there and being loud." He also, however,
expressed a wish for greater unity among the various factions of the
left: "'Personally, I would rather have the rally and the march
combined...The conservatives have unity in their bloc, while we
have disunity on our side."'

There were also two small groups of counter-protesters, at most a
half-dozen each. One group consisted of young Republicans,
another of young, openly avowed fascists, dressed up like
jack-booted thugs. They were kept at the margins of the rally.

Most of the speakers were strong though. The first speaker was
Shalom Keller, a twenty-three year-old veteran who spent six
months in Afghanistan and a year in Iraq, participating in the initial
invasion. What he saw and experienced turned him against the war.
Anguish and rage in his voice, he recalled how, during the invasion
of Iraq, "'I saw a four year old girl begging for food. I was told
not give her any bread, because others would come after us to feed
her. Well, it's two years later and no one's come to feed
her yet!"' He also said, "'People I know personally are
dead!"' naming those in his unit who have died in this
senseless war. Finally, he decried those in the military who have
justified the war on Christian fundamentalist grounds as a crusade
for Christ. Removing his hat to reveal a yarmulke, Keller shouted,
"'Do I look like I'm fighting a crusade for Christ here?!
I'm kind of Jewish."'

Rose Gonzalez, of Military Families Speak Out, told the gathered
crowd about her mother: "'Like many others, she joined the
National Guard, thinking that they would help her by paying for an
education and a mortgage for a house. Currently, at forty-seven
years old, she is deployed in Iraq--deployed long after he have
found no weapons of mass destruction, long after it's been
proved there is no connection between bin Laden and Hussein,
long after Hussein has been captured, long after we were promised
the war would be over. Why is she still there?"'

Near the Bandstand was a wall with the names of photos of US
soldiers who have died in Iraq, reinforcing the speakers'
message about the war's grim toll. According to the
Department of Defense's website, 1,509 American soldiers
have died in the invasion and occupation of Iraq and 5,871 have
been seriously wounded.

Renowned radical historian Howard Zinn put the current peace
movement's efforts in historical perspective, while
lambasting the Bush administration's claims that this is a war
for democracy: "'When Vietnam Veterans Against the War
was formed, that was an important turning point in the struggle
against the Vietnam War. Now that veterans are returning and
speaking out against the Iraq War, more and more people are
seeing the truth. Bush has stolen the wealth of this country and put
into the war. Bush has said that the soldiers are fighting for liberty.
That is not true. They are fighting for Bush, for Cheney, for
Halliburton, and for Bechtel--and they are not worth dying for. You
don't bring liberty to a country with napalm and cluster
bombs. You don't bring democracy by breaking into houses
and terrorizing civilians. Bush has said this is a war on terrorism.
War is terrorism."

The final speaker, City Councilor Turner, a respected, long-time
civil rights activist and African-American community organizer,
highlighted the connection between poverty and war: "Our
government is not acting in the interests of our people. It's
not just what's happening overseas. It's taking place in
our communities as well. They're taking money and giving it
to the military-industrial-prison complex to protect American
business, while cutting social services at home."

Several times in his speech, he urged people to join the unpermitted
march after the rally. Unfortunately, the rally had stretched well
beyond its schedule end time of 3:00 to 4:20, so only a few hundred
people remained. Most of these people proceeded to march,
resulting in higher numbers than the anarchist youth could have
gotten on their own. The gathering stopped briefly in front of the
military recruiting center to celebrate the fact that it had shut down
for the day in anticipation of the direct action, while an activist
marching band played. Turner and the anarchists then proceeded to
lead the group on a march through downtown Boston, snaking
along various streets, including through the shopping district of
Downtown Crossing, where hundred of people saw and heard the
anti-war banners and chants. Some people simply looked on in
puzzlement, a few flipped us off, while others made V-signs or
honked in support (including a few folks trapped in the traffic by the
march). It was refreshing to see such a disparate group of
progressive activists--in terms of race, generation and political
beliefs--working together in a fairly militant action.

The original plan had been for the march to go from the Common
to Harvard Square. Police blocked the way, eventually directing the
crowd back to the Common. At first, the police seemed like they
were nonetheless going to be relatively mellow, simply stopping
traffic and steering the march by parking their motorcycles in
various intersections. The police presence became increasingly
heavy though, with police in paramilitary uniforms and giant batons
appearing and walking alongside the march, with legal observers
trailing them in turn. When the march returned to the Common at
4:45, there were paddy wagons parked there and the police were
evidently trying to stop the march from further movement with their
motorcycles.

According to numerous witnesses, some of the cops than flipped
out as some of the marchers tried to move forward, shoving
numerous people to the ground (including two senior citizens) and
arresting five people (including an Indymedia writer), in some cases
violently piling on top of them, all without provocation. That it was
the police that were out of line is clear in light of the fact of the
behavior of the other cops, who sent some of the responsible
officers away to cool off. A tense stand-off between the protesters
and the police followed. It became clear exactly how unpopular the
police already were with the predominantly student crowd, as
people called out things, "'You killed our classmate Victoria
Snelgrove,"' referring to a Emerson College student killed by
riot police using "'non-lethal"' weapons as she peacefully
celebrated the victory of the Red Sox in the World Series.

The stand-off continued for a while. At 5:00, about thirty of the
anarchists and other young protesters further de-escalated the
situation by sitting down on the ground, adopting a less
confrontational pose but also refusing to back down by going away.
They sang civil rights songs, effectively changing the atmosphere.
Eventually, the police, realizing that their continued presence would
only be a provocation, backed down and moved away from the
protesters.
================
Copied from infoshop.org


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