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News :: Education : International
Protesters Outnumber Military Supporters, as Peace Activists Protest Army Recruitment on the Cambridge Common
14 Jun 2005
On Tuesday, June 14, 2005, from 10:30 to 1:00 two to three hundred people gathered on the Cambridge Common to protest the army’s celebration of its 230th anniversary there, an event they turned into a blatant recruitment effort. This is part of larger drive by the military to get more people to join, response to the severe drop-offs in new recruits that all branches of the military face as the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan stretch on with no end in sight. Protesters spoke out against the attempts to entice students to join the army, by making it look fun by creating something of a fair on the Common--when those who joined the army would most likely to be sent to kill and possibly be killed in pointless, bloody wars. In contrast to the large number of protesters, there were only about fifty to a hundred civilians there to attend the ceremonies, many of them school children bussed in as a fieldtrip. At times, it appeared that the protesters’ chants could clearly be heard over the official speakers at the ceremony. There were seven arrests, all a result of protesters refusing to remain in the officially designated protest pit.
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I arrived at the protest at 11:00, to find the peace activists there chanting quite angrily. I soon discovered why they were angry--three of them had been arrested half an hour before for attempting to exercise their right to free speech. I spoke with a number of witnesses, all of whom told me the same story. People had arrived planning to march, lead by members of Veterans for Peace, into the area of the Common where the army was holding its show and then hold a silent vigil. The police told them they could come in as long as they brought no sticks or megaphones. They agreed to these conditions, marched in, circled the stage and assembled for their vigil just to the stage’s left. The police then demanded that they move back several yards to an area further from the stage. According to Eric Zinman, “Some of the more venerable members said they wanted to stay where they were and they had the right to remain there as long as they were not blocking anyone else.” The police reacted by physically pushing back the line of activists and arresting three of these venerable activists who had refused to move. The remainder, they confined to a protest pit at the edge of the area where the army was holding its ceremonies. The police thus managed to turn what would have been a silent vigil into a crowd of people angrily calling out chants, even as the speakers took the stage during the army’s ceremonies. Although I couldn’t be sure from where I was standing, it seems like the chants could be clearly heard over the official speakers.

According to Nancy Ryan of the American Civil Liberties Union, who was keeping track of the arrests, the police’s actions were in violation of the First Amendment rights of free speech and peaceful assembly. “The ACLU is trying to monitor this because the city announced there would a protest pen. Anyone has the right to peacefully circulate in this area with a sign,” she said, indicating the entire area where the army had set up its displays.

Later, four members of Boston Direct Action (http://bostondirectactionproject.blogspot.com/ ), a street theater group, were arrested for jumping the fence so that they could walk in the area where the audience for the ceremony had gathered. They were dressed in elaborate costumes, wearing the clothes of soldiers and Iraqis, only covered with blood and with bullet wounds in their heads--a grim portrayal of the realities of war. (For pictures, see http://boston.indymedia.org/newswire/display/38602/index.php and http://boston.indymedia.org/newswire/display/38614/index.php . For video, see http://boston.indymedia.org/newswire/display/38671/index.php .)

Louise Dunlap, a long-time Cambridge resident and peace activist (whose partner was among those arrested at the beginning of the event), explained the reason she felt such outrage (even before learning her partner was arrested) was that, “This is my city, Cambridge, where we have always voted for peace. Our city is a member of the International Peace Messenger Cities, our mayor is a member of Mayors for Peace, and our city voted unanimously not to enter the war. This is a brazen attempt to come to a place dedicated to peace and promote a military message.” On the arrests, she said, “The Cambridge Common has a tradition of peace that goes back two hundred years and now they’re refusing to honor our right to peaceful assembly. Skip [her partner] spent five months in the Gaza Strip without getting detained and now he gets arrested on the Cambridge Common, where we’re supposed to have free speech.”

Sholom Keller, a veteran of the invasions of both Afghanistan and Iraq, now an anarchist and peace activist, expressed his disgust with all the things that the military had used to try to create an atmosphere like that of a fair--stunt parachutists, people on horses, flags, marches, men in Revolutionary War costumes. “They’re trying to brainwash the kids early. Most of the soldiers, by their uniforms, have never been to war. It’s just propaganda--a pathetic display of pageantry,” which he compared to that which the Third Reich used to glorify its own bloody conquests. “The protesters here are trying to tell those in the audience that war is not about pageantry--it’s about blood, death and destruction. I don’t remember seeing any ‘collateral damage’ in Iraq--all I remember is seeing dead babies, a starving girl and being ordered to point my machine gun at a nine-year-old boy.”

According to the Department of Defense, over 1800 American soldiers have died in Afghanistan and Iraq. The US government has refused to track the deaths of Iraqi and Afghan civilians, which would seem to indicate how little they in fact care about their lives, all the proclamations that they came to free them notwithstanding. Others, however, have gone to the trouble of trying to estimate these numbers. According to a conservative estimate published, after extensive peer review, in the highly prestigious medical journal, The Lancet, at least 100,000 Iraqi civilians have died as a result of the invasion and occupation on Iraq--numbers that do not even account for the devastation wrought on the city of Fallujah, which was excluded from the study. For more information on the realities of the occupation of Iraq, see the Iraq Occupation Watch website, http://www.occupationwatch.org/ .

As for those who would honor the veterans of the Iraq and Afghan Wars as heroes, as they did on stage during the army’s celebrations, Keller said, “I hate it when people call me a hero. I just want to stop having nightmares.”

An older veteran, Jim Casteris of Veterans for Peace (http://www.veteransforpeace.org ), who was drafted to fight in the Korean War in 1953, said, “I’m out here to try to educate young people. When I was twenty and I was drafted, I had no objections--I didn’t want to kill or be killed, but I didn’t see anything wrong with the war.” Like Keller, Casteris wants young people to know the ugly reality of military life. He also wants them to know that many of the promises made by military recruiters are false. Many young people, especially those from poor neighborhoods with few career prospects, are lured into the military by promises of a technical training and money for college. Casteris said, “The army promises a lot of things when they’re trying to recruit, but the recruiters lie. They’re doing it more and more as they have trouble getting people to join.”

According to an article in the June 13 issue of the New York Times, the army has fallen short of its recruitment goals for four straight months; while the marines met their goals for May, it was the first time they had done so this year. It would seem that, even through the filter of the mainstream media, enough people have grasped the ugly realities of war that the military is having trouble finding enough personnel In a counter-recruitment flyer (“It’s Not Just a Job”, available at http://www.projectyano.org/ , along with other information), the Project on Youth and Non-military Opportunities (Project YANO) warns those contemplating joining the military that, even if they do get technical training, most of the training they will receive is military-specific and will do them little good in finding a job in civilian life. They also warn that the promised college money is not automatic--that soldiers who want any meaningful amount of money must sign up for special jobs and serve extra time. All this is, of course, in addition to such dangers as killing those who have done nothing to harm you, being killed yourself, or suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome as a result of the horrors of war.

Jennifer Horan of United for Justice with Peace (http://www.justicewithpeace.org/ ), a coalition of Boston-area peace groups, said that this protest was part of the larger counter-recruitment movement taking place across the US. (For more information on national counter-recruiting efforts, see the website of the national coalition United for Peace and Justice http://www.unitedforpeace.org/article.php?list=type&type=76 .) She said local efforts were going well and were very grassroots. “There’s lots of interest in the towns around here. There’s also growing pains, as people try to figure out how confrontational they should be, in towns where they’ve lived for a long time and where they’d like to keep good relations with school officials.” Laws requiring that schools allow equal time for people to present opposite sides of controversial issues have also worked to counter-recruiters efforts. “We had a meeting with he headmaster of the Somerville schools and he agreed to all our demands in five minutes. The military has the right to right to table in the Somerville schools four times a year, and so do we. We had too many legal arguments on our side for the headmaster to argue with us.”

At around 1:00, the military ceremonies finished up. The fenced off area where the military had had its fair set up quickly emptied, leaving a see of empty chairs. Conversely, the peace activists stayed around to talk for some time afterward.
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It was after all Flag Day
14 Jun 2005
I went to this event. My direct observation was that it was an open, yet difficult to enter event at which several sporadic attempts to hijack or grandstand were quickly and painlessly repelled.

The displays of military campsites from eras of past wars were interesting, and the people affable. I enjoyed watching the paratroopers land, and looking at the antique machine guns.

Matt's construal that the protesters outnumbered the supporters is misleading. The event was organized and peopled entirely by supporters, and these people effectively controlled the Common. The biggest travesty was in fact the parking.
Re: Protesters Outnumber Military Supporters, as Peace Activists Protest Army Recruitment on the Cambridge Common
14 Jun 2005
today was a tougth one. Im raised in Cambridge.
I decided to stay inside the barriers today, to walk around and talk with people who were there and to try to ask questions and speak with the "nonconverted", ie ordinary folks who showed up in support of the Army Birthday thing, or relitives with ansestors who were in the revolutionary war, etc.. the Black group from the CivI War period was facinating, and just as we were having an educating discussion, a fellow we were talking to said "secret service right behind you." we looked and sure nuff, there was a tall fellow in suit surrounded by black sunglass fellas who looked very serious. he was later speaking from the podium, I guess he was a bigwig from the Pentigon...

we sent out prayer for the dead and the earth, trying to radiate a positive peace vibe from in front of a humvee parked on the CambridgeCommon (Unthinkable. crazy. sad.)
surrounded by cops, military, secret service...
fellas tried to recrute us (literally mentioning the army now has "...annual raises! and I've been to 16 countrys in my past 5 years..." When we calmly and quietly asked this young fellow if he was a "lifer" (making a career out of the Army life), he said with his eyes cast down "well, I havent made up my mind on that yet.."
Interesting.
I ask him if he had a wife or girlfriend, he said he has a girl.. so I asked the recruter if he was injured or killed what would the army do for her, and he said (looking sideways) "... they will take care of her, she'll be all set, she'd get my paycheck.."
As he spoke to us,I began to feel bad for this handsome young man. very very bad. Because I mean it must hurt the soul of any thinking being to consider army recruting as the thing to do nowadays, and all of us who have stayed clear of this sort of job are blessed and free... and fortunate indeed.0
sad & thoughtful, feeling that the Schools that sent the children need to get a talking to, as does the mayor of cambridge (!) I remain a Cambridge born and raised grrl, dissapointed at what has come to pass in my hometown
Re: Protesters Outnumber Military Supporters, as Peace Activists Protest Army Recruitment on the Cambridge Common
14 Jun 2005
Well, all I can say is that I talked to a number of people who agreed with me that there were more of us out there protesting against the military than there were civilians outside supporting them. And a lot of the civilians inside were kids who'd been bussed in, so they weren't exactly there voluntarily. Now, the protesters were kind of dispersed, not concentrated all in one clump (some were in the protest pit, some stayed outside, soem circled around the whole military to-do), so that may have created the impression there weren't as many of us as there were.
Re: Protesters Outnumber Military Supporters, as Peace Activists Protest Army Recruitment on the Cambridge Common
14 Jun 2005
thats fair to say, Matt is right I think as well there were far more folks outside on both sides, quietly walking aro8und inside observing peacefully, and getting arrested, then there were attending this event officially. The youth got up out of their seats at one point because it was so hot they needed the shade, then the seats were near empty. with only the exhibition of Army history and the speakers on stage left, the rows and rows of white plastic arched-back empty seats looked eerily like Arlington...! spooky.
Re: Protesters Outnumber Military Supporters, as Peace Activists Protest Army Recruitment on the Cambridge Common
14 Jun 2005
Props from New York City! Keep it up Boston...
Re: Protesters Outnumber Military Supporters, as Peace Activists Protest Army Recruitment on the Cambridge Common
14 Jun 2005
i heard that this was going to be happening tomorrow, is this true??
Re: Protesters Outnumber Military Supporters, as Peace Activists Protest Army Recruitment on the Cambridge Common
14 Jun 2005
People in the military die so, you can stand there, with sillymakeup and placards that discredit our troops. Your rights to free speech, portest, are becasue we have men and women willing to die for this form of protest. If we lose our military, we can lose our way of life, which protects free speech, and protest. Why not think of ways to support our values, unless of course, you think living under the rule of Castro, is more desireable. Talk to those peole in the ocean in a taxi floated with pontoons, ask them why they decided to leave glorius Cuba.
Re: Protesters Outnumber Military Supporters, as Peace Activists Protest Army Recruitment on the Cambridge Common
14 Jun 2005
So if I don't want people to die in an unnecessary and brutal war, then I support Castro? Personally, as someone who supports democracy, I tend to look askance at those who've ruled countries for decades. I DO think that it's telling that Cuba has a lower infant mortality rate than the US, despite its relative poverty. But your bringing up Cuba is really a red herring, isn't it?

Allison, you say that protesters discredit the troops. How's that? Would you tell the veterans at today's demostration that they were discrediting the troops? Were those pointing out that over 1700 soldiers and tens of thousands of civilians have died in Iraq over inaccurate information somehow discrediting the troops (I won't even get into whether Bush was lying or just mistaken)? Does it discredit the troops to say that war, even if you believe that it's necessary, isn't exactly justified?

And what would you list as "ways to support our values," Allyson? I work with teens--would it support our values to tell them that because they can't afford college, they should risk being killed or maimed in Iraq? Should I keep my mouth shut when even the Pentagon has acknowledged that military recruiters have recently been caught telling bold-faced lies (deeming the problem serious enough for their recent "stand-down" day)? What exactly are the values you support, Allyson? And what role do they have in a democracy?
Re: Protesters Outnumber Military Supporters, as Peace Activists Protest Army Recruitment on the Cambridge Common
15 Jun 2005
I was there and I got to say that the protesters shot themselves in the foot by being rude. They were chanting political slogans during taps for goodness sakes! I don't like Bush either and did my best to oust him during the election, but today had nothing to do with him except he happens to be the commander-in-chief for the time being.

If you disagree with the Iraq occupation, that's fine. Show up and protest and hold your placards; that's what the first amendment is for after all. But be respectful. Americans died trying to support what they thought was right, good, and noble. Maybe they were lied to by their leaders, but they still gave their lives for the ideals of freedom and while the officials were trying to honor their sacrfice, most of the protesters showed disrespect to them. Maybe that wasn't their intention, but that's what it seemed like from this neutral observer. Today was about the troops, not their political masters, and the manner in which I saw the protests was uncalled for.
A Pretty Cool Day
15 Jun 2005
A good showing at the demonstration, probably about 150 people or so.... And one annoying woman in a pink shirt . She had a wiener dog . Someone should have put a muzzle on her. Her bullshit makes us all look bad and f*cks up the message we're trying to get across..Oh well, just wanted to say that.
Something Funny About Today
15 Jun 2005
Most (95% or so) of the people who came to the demonstration and bashed people in the army by refering to them as "imbeciles" (as one sign said), even with todays recruitment problems, would be considered "unfit" for military service. I guess in a way it's almost like high school, when, the people who bashed the "jocks" the most, are the same people who got cut, or couldn't make onto a team. Obviously, war is alot more serious than a sporting event, and I'm against the war, but I found it particularly offensive that the vast number of demonstrators shit all over the soldiers. Oh well, typical far left bulshit. And don't reply with the standard " we support the troops, bring them home" nonsense, because you know deep inside that you depise people in the military. You talk about it all the time at your gatherings. What ever happened to tolerance ??
arrestees??
15 Jun 2005
what were they charged with?
Re: Arrestee?
15 Jun 2005
They were all chaged with "Disturbing the peace" and one also with "Unlawful Assembly".

See this link for info:
http://boston.indymedia.org/newswire/display/38648/index.php
Re: Protesters Outnumber Military Supporters, as Peace Activists Protest Army Recruitment on the Cambridge Common
15 Jun 2005
Oooh cool, ironic charges!
Re: Protesters Outnumber Military Supporters, as Peace Activists Protest Army Recruitment on the Cambridge Common
15 Jun 2005
OK, how can we do it better folks. seriously...
hmmm... yes, several plants in the crowd were acting out as usual, yelling foul things. making the rest of us look crazy and ugly to the kids.
Um pigboy wearing plastic buttocks and a pig head just confused the school children... interfered with the theater art of the serious young lady in black w the flag tied over her eyes and mouth (he was circling her) pig-boy imagry didnt help the cause & really alienated the middleclass/upperclass elders whose support we need, as their tax dollars pay for the Army... they need to be reached.

actually E1, the bunch of strong, intelligent, healthy youth standing in a line with the "You Cant Bribe Us To Kill" t-shirts looked great, not 4F at all, the army would looove to have them for body-armor-fillers.

Let us be very very serious: if they want our school children, they are now officially Desperate... can u say operation "Enders Game" (read it)

Signing up young ones and pre-teens for future enlistment is wrong. This gathering was wrong especially with their parents not there to advise their children, and especially when youth are pulled from school witout EVERY parents permission, and taken on a "educational fieldtrip" to be in a photo-op for the Army birthday.
Operation Kambridge Kidnapp.

Some parents are gonna complain. The Mayor has to answer to this: he is in the "Mayors for Peace" group ...for pete's sake!

Operation Retake The Commons.
your point overtaken by rudeness
15 Jun 2005
I think you all make some good points. But you lost me, and angered me, by shouting over taps and the pledge of allegiance.

My 85 year old grandfather, a veteran of WWII, partially blind and deaf from his age, took the T for over an hour to attend the ceremony. He agrees with your right to protest and chuckled at the male protester who sat in front of him for a brief time, wearing a skirt.

But he was very upset that he could not hear the pledge or the speeches.

The only message you sent to him is that you (all protesters, as far as he knew) are jerks.
To amatul
15 Jun 2005
I talked to a few of the "strong, healthy " kids in the t-shirts. After about ten minutes of chatting with them, I came to the conclusion that MAYBE 1 or 2 have what it takes to get thru bootcamp. As an African _American Vet, I have nothing but the highest regards for the military.
Re: Protesters Outnumber Military Supporters, as Peace Activists Protest Army Recruitment on the Cambridge Common
15 Jun 2005
E1
the reason i am opposed to the tactics used nowadays is perhaps in someway in agreement with one section of your (unknown, this is afterall the internet and we are all strangers) philosophy..

Many a brave warhorse can see that these are irregular times, and many of the young people being enlisted now do not "have what it takes to get the job done", but are shipped off without full training or the full timelyness to see if they are indeed ready, willing, and _totally able_ to do the difficult work of going to active duty.
afterall, they are not yesterdays men. And many of yesterdays men remain madmen in the streets, sadly.
the situation has changed, and we all do _not_ know where this is headed.

if u are indeed an African _American Vet, I could assume that you are one tougth charicter with a load of will to have done whatever it is that you have done to serve. no disrespect was meant of yourself - but we just were not ALL wingnuts and 4f's there standing up against recrutiers speaking to local school children, thats the point.

your time is different than this time in basic ways....
videogame killers and gangsta wanna-be's dont always keep the honor intact, and this issue is very serious: children's parents should be with them when they are exposed to recruting materials. its a serious, life altering choice.
Wing Nuts and 4F's
15 Jun 2005
Not absolutely right Amatul, not all are wing nuts or 4f, but I'd say most are.
Re: Protesters Outnumber Military Supporters, as Peace Activists Protest Army Recruitment on the Cambridge Common
15 Jun 2005
victory! people are harping on this demo b/c it was SOOOO effective. this was a very thinly veiled attempt by the Armed Forces to get more children for cannon fodder. You showed that had beat them at their own game. You turned a propaganda event in to a PR fiasco for the military. Never let up!

All Power to the People!
another view
15 Jun 2005
Here's another view. I think everyone agrees that war is ugly and nasty and bad. But it was the Army's birthday, and The Army has helped with some good causes in history, hasn't it?

The US Revolution? Civil War? Would you be happy if (Nazi) Germany and Japan (Imperial Japan) had won the war? What about the aid to Tsunami victims? (that was mostly Navy, but you get the idea). This was a celebration of the fact that nasty slave owner George Washington started an organization 230 years ago.

I despise the idea of 'protest pens', but just like I respect your right to protest peacefully, I respect everyone's right to hold an event for historical purposes. I'm sure there was an element of propaganda to it. But there is plenty of good history to celebrate as well. It would be nice if you can acknowledge some of those points once in a while.

"It is the soldier, not the protester, who guarantees freedom to protest".
Re: Protesters Outnumber Military Supporters, as Peace Activists Protest Army Recruitment on the Cambridge Common
15 Jun 2005
Go said: <i>"it was the Army's birthday, and The Army has helped with some good causes in history, hasn't it?

"The US Revolution? Civil War? Would you be happy if (Nazi) Germany and Japan (Imperial Japan) had won the war? What about the aid to Tsunami victims? (that was mostly Navy, but you get the idea). This was a celebration of the fact that nasty slave owner George Washington started an organization 230 years ago."

"It is the soldier, not the protester, who guarantees freedom to protest". </i>

I respectfully disagree. First, the Revolutionary War wasn't an army - it was an insurgency. It was protesters - with guns. The Brits had the "official, lawful" army after all.

We didn't go to war in WWI or II with all happy shiny intentions either. And again, they really didn't do that much to protect us here at home, though we did help destroy a lot of Europe in the process of helping them. The Civil War? Another insurgency on the part of the South. It wasn't fought on the part of the North "for the slaves" - it was much more complicated than that. It was an ugly war for ugly reasons and I don't know how people can celebrate it.

Certainly, the Korean and Vietnam wars did nothing to help our personal freedom or liberty here. Nor even the liberty or freedom of those countries.

And Afghanistan and Iraq? Same thing. Nothing to help our freedoms, just a lot of killing, maiming, and ultimately, sending these countries backwards into insanity as the people rebel against <i>us</i>. Iraqis and Afghans do not want us there. We've lost credibility in the world as a result.

And what about the other anti-democratic things we've done? Supporting the coup against democratically-elected Chavez in Venezuela? Ousting Haiti's president? Yeah, we've got a great track record of supporting democracy throughout the world.

No wonder no one believes us anymore.
To add
15 Jun 2005
Oh and the reference to the tsunami relief...that's not even a fair comparison. If all our army did was help victims recover from disasters all over the world, we'd all happy with that. There'd be no protests.

It sounds like the police, in their rough handling of some venerable protesters, shot THEMSELVES in the foot. Maybe things would have been a little less "rude" if protesters were treated with the same respect everyone seems to think they should show to everyone else.

Until the day protesters are not shoved in "pens" and treated like criminals and cattle, I'm sure we'll see a lot more of this "rude" behavior. It appears that's the only thing that gets on anyone's radar.
Re: Protesters Outnumber Military Supporters, as Peace Activists Protest Army Recruitment on the Cambridge Common
15 Jun 2005
I never said that the US always had altruistic intentions when going to war, but are you telling me that the world would be a better place than it is today if Germany and Japan had won? How many anti-governmental protests have you ever heard of in those nations?

And oh yeah- let's not forget that the Army did not get us into ANY of those wars. Just our nation's elected leaders. Including JFK and Bill Clinton.
Re: Protesters Outnumber Military Supporters, as Peace Activists Protest Army Recruitment on the Cambridge Common
15 Jun 2005
To Go: While I can understand that the military HAS served positive/democratic purposes in its 230 years of existence, I think you're missing one central point here: the military decided to throw its birthday bash in a public park in a peaceful and quite progressive community. I don't think anyone would show up to protest if the celebration was on a military base and if it was not used as an opportunity for a live, in person "Army Of One"/"Be All That You Can Be" commercial. When the military chooses to come into civilian territory, the civilians are more than entitled to their say on the proceedings.
Re: Protesters Outnumber Military Supporters, as Peace Activists Protest Army Recruitment on the Cambridge Common
15 Jun 2005
Of course this event was for proppaganda. To those who says that the Army was just innocently celebrating its brithday--does it strike you as odd, at all, that it held this large event for its 230th? Last I checked, the 230th wasn't a major anniversary. And they have NOT had any similar events on the common for earlier, bigger birthdays. Could it be that on the 225th and the 200th, there weren't wars going on and so it wasn't necessary to try to recruit kids by showing off fancy helicopters?
Re: Protesters Outnumber Military Supporters, as Peace Activists Protest Army Recruitment on the Cambridge Common
15 Jun 2005
This video clip is of 2 women being arrested and dragged out of the Cambridge Commons, one of them dressed as an Iraqi women covered in blood with a sign around her neck saying "Liberated".

(2 min - 10 mb quicktime file)
http://boston.indymedia.org/newswire/display/38671/index.php
Re: Protesters Outnumber Military Supporters, as Peace Activists Protest Army Recruitment on the Cambridge Common
15 Jun 2005
I just want to say to any protester that thinks that they were successful yesterday that you really need to take another look at your actions. Not only did you disrespect the flag but you also disrespected everything that this country stands for (including your precious freedom of speech). I was there with my child and had to move on several occasions because I was afraid one of you would nock him down. You need to realize that you would not have all the freedoms that you have if it wasn't for the military. I am proud to serve in the Army and when my boys are done with school I can assure they will also join the military. And just so you know, all the recruiters that I know ask their applicants if to speak with their parents also. You shouldn't speak about what you don't know.
Re: Protesters Outnumber Military Supporters, as Peace Activists Protest Army Recruitment on the Cambridge Common
15 Jun 2005
Sometimes I wonder if people read the article before they post comments to it.

On the idea that we don't care about people in the military and don't know what we're talking to--did you see the comments by the two veterans I interviewed? I would say about a good third of the people protesting were veterans. Although I didn't see any banners indicating they were there, Military Families Speak Out--an anti-war groups consisting of those with loved ones in the military, in most cases serving in Iraq and Afghanistan--is an important part of the peace movement as well. The idea that they don't care about soldiers or that they don't know what war is like is simply ridiculous. As should be clear from what they said, the veterans were out there protesting because they know what war is like--"blood, death and destruction" in Sholom Keller's words--and they don't want anyone else to get suckered into going through the living hell they went through.

As for the idea that we were being rude--well, as I noted in my article, the whole thing would most likely have been a silent vigil, except that the cops shoved people into a designated protest pit and then arrested three people for exercising their rights to free speech and peaceful assembly. And I didn't see or hear about any of the military personnel present intervening with the police to protect anyone's rights. Besides, protests are meant to be disruptive--that's where they gain their power from. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote his famous "Letter from the Birmingham Jail" (http://almaz.com/nobel/peace/MLK-jail.html) in response to a group of white ministers who reprimanded him for being disruptive. They figured that if black people and their supporters were quiet and patient long enough, things would somehow change. King responded that they had waited a couple hundred years and it hadn't gotten them anywhere--and therefore the need to take disruptive action. Action which deeply offended most white people in the South, who thought segregation was part of the natural order and were shocked and distressed to see black people challenging it. If our ptotesting Tuesday shocked and disturbed you, it was because we were trying to stop the even more shocking and disturbing realities of the US occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, which have further devastated the two countries (already thoroughly devastated by bloody regimes), not brought any substantial democracy (just having elections doesn't mean that there is a living, breathing democracy in place) but an occupying power that violates people's basic civil rights (searches of houses without warrants, arrests and long detentions without any given reason, arrests of labor organizers, closure of newspapers,use of torture), and a lot of pointless deaths on both sides.
Rocket Bomb coverage of demonstration
15 Jun 2005
Heres is a link to a really cool site with awsome footage from the demo.

http://www.rocketboom.com/vlog/archives/2005/06/rb_05_jun_15.html
Re: Protesters Outnumber Military Supporters, as Peace Activists Protest Army Recruitment on the Cambridge Common
15 Jun 2005
The protests neither shocked nor disturbed me. I've seen it all before. It was as shocking as giving a toddler some birthday cake, but instead of eating it, the toddler covered his face in frosting. That sort of behavior is quite expected from a child.

Likewise, I expected no different from the nation's most opinionated zip code. But, ultimately, like that toddler who doesn't know what to do with his dessert, the actions of the majority of protestors were childish and immature. Were these actions of people who wanted to cause change in U.S. policy? If so, they were quite ineffective and may wish to rethink their strategy. Or were these the actions of people who just wanted to draw attention to themselves? I suspect the latter. How many lives were saved in the Middle East due to those who decided to dress up in bloodly clothes and chant at the top of their lungs in an effort to interrupt unrelated ceremonies? I'm willing to bet very few.

I'm as horrified as anyone at the abuses that are happening in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Downing St. memo is proof that the Iraq war was conceived for political purposes. The citizens of this nation must be made to understand this, especially when the media prefers to cover celebreties to world affairs. But the actions I saw from the protestors did not deepen the public discussion or make people more aware of the issues. It only made the general public aware that a segment of the liberal constituency can be very obnoxius when they want to be. I have never been so alienated by the liberal cause and I hate the fact I will be tainted with the same brush whenever I espouse the same beliefs the protestors did.

Lest I also overgeneralize, I must say that some of the performance art was interesting and I appreciated the efforts of those who made their points without resorting to grandstanding. But really, how many lives were saved when some protestors tried charging the stage?
Ugly Tactics/ Ugly War
16 Jun 2005
I have to say that in retrospect I regret getting into a shouting match with an old man and his wife at this event, it just pushes them furthur away from hearing what I really feel and wish they could understand. I'm certain that our protests created absolute hatred against the anti-war movement in many there.

But to not yell "shame" and to not chant and express extreme outrage at the most efficient killing machine ever created would be a failure on our part. Outrage and anger at our military and their actions should be expressed in any way that we can think of.

And for christs sake, what was the army thinking by throwing a propaganda event like this in Cambridge, MA of all places, what did they expect? Yellow Ribbons?

WWII, The Civil War. . . these are not something that we should be proud of. I wasn't there but I know that they where evil, terrible, destructive chains of events.

Just like with Saddam in the 80's, the US supported fascism in the 30's. Hitler and Mussolini were great for American business, they kept those pesky workers from demanding their democracy. FDR approved of Hitlers takeover of Czechoslovakia. American Big Biz invested heavily in Italy and Germany in the 30's.

The whole thing about the Civil War freeing the slaves and WWII saving the world from Fascism is just not on the level.

Peoples movements have given us our freedoms, not the military. Like the bumper sticker says . . ."The Labor Movement, The Folks that brought you the Weekend". The idea that the military is defending our country from wolves, demons and orcs is what is sold to us in school and on the media. We're the demons to many in the world.

Was Ho Chi Min really gonna come and take away our freedoms? Was Hitler going to invade the states?

I doubt it.
Goebbles would be proud
16 Jun 2005
.
"Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play." – Joseph Goebbels

Heres a link to the globes article and photo:

http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2005/06/15/7_arr/

Protesters John Schuchardt (center) and Khury Petersen (right) were pushed back by police yesterday at Cambridge Common. (Globe Staff Photo / Bill Greene)

7 arrested at Army birthday celebration
Antiwar protesters clash with police
By Megan Tench, Globe Staff | June 15, 2005

CAMBRIDGE -- Antiwar protests and angry confrontations with police led to seven arrests on Cambridge Common yesterday as the city attempted to celebrate the 230th birthday of the US Army.
What started as a peaceful march by more than 100 sign-waving antiwar demonstrators quickly heated up after a group of protesters refused to move away from the stage and onto a grassy area designated by police. After several warnings, police lined up shoulder to shoulder, shoving some members of the group back behind jersey barriers and arresting others who refused to budge.

''They didn't have to push me," said 70-year-old Judy Summersby. ''They kept saying 'We have our orders,' and one woman out there called me trash."
Cambridge Police Commissioner Ronnie Watson defended the police action, saying that the demonstrators were physically in the way of the ceremony.
The protests outraged some spectators who brought children to the event.
''They are just ignorant, and they don't know what they are doing," said Brigit Smith, whose husband, Sergeant First Class Paul Smith of Tampa, was killed in Iraq in April 2003. He was the first soldier awarded the Medal of Honor in the Iraq war for his courage in the Battle of Bagdad Airport. The couple's 11-year-old son, David, led the Pledge of Allegiance yesterday afternoon to a backdrop of boos and sneers.
''They really made me upset," said Brigit Smith, after the ceremony. At one point during the celebration and protest, Smith crouched down to yell at a woman resisting arrest.
''I just got so mad, I couldn't help it," she said. ''My husband loved his comrades, and he loved the Army."
Cambridge has been a city known for its fierce liberalism and antiwar protests. But Cambridge Common was the site where 230 years ago many servicemen came together when the Continental Congress formally established the Army, organizers pointed out. On July 3, 1775, General George Washington arrived on Cambridge Common and took command of the newly formed Continental Army.
Yesterday, the grassy lawn was filled with Army exhibits, including live reenactments of different periods and uniforms in Army history.
Children from the Peabody Elementary School and elsewhere happily climbed in and out of camouflaged military vehicles, donning Army helmets, and acting as though they were armed soldiers. Some shook hands with service members stationed at the exhibits, and others watched in awe as parachutists leaped out of UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters overhead.
Still, the birthday celebration was overshadowed by mostly middle-age protesters chanting, ''Shame," and sporadic arrests. Meanwhile, a few 20-somethings marched around the common dressed as dead soldiers and Iraqi civilians with party hats, bullet wounds, and fake blood running down their faces.
Aligned with the demonstrators was Councilor Marjorie Decker, who called the event a veiled attempt at captivating youngsters as the Army copes with recruitment woes.
Decker, who also serves as the city's vice mayor, said she was deeply suspicious of the Army's motives, adding that members of the City Council did not know the event was happening until last week. ''There was no communication in the City Council to decide if this was an appropriate time to hold a celebration," she said.
The event was sponsored by the Massachusetts National Guard, the US Army, and the City of Cambridge.
US Undersecretary of the Army Raymond DuBois, the day's keynote speaker, said he was unmoved by the loud jeers. ''I am a Vietnam veteran, so I'm kind of used to this," he said.
''We recruit 365 days of the year," he said after his speech. ''There is only one birthday."
Re: Protesters Outnumber Military Supporters, as Peace Activists Protest Army Recruitment on the Cambridge Common
16 Jun 2005
Now that I think about it a little more, veterans probably didn't make up an entire third of the protesters--but they were definitely a significant presence there.

No, this one particular protest probably didn't save any lives in the Middle East. Few individual protest have that effect--it's the cumulative impact of grasroots organizing, protesting, lobbying and other tactics like counter-recruitment that will save lives in the Middle East, not one individual event--although every event contributes in some small way.

To those who were hoping to have fun at the army event and who's day was ruined--look, I'm honestly sorry, but there are bigger things at stake here. And certainly not everyone at the protest behaved perfectly. As one other poster just admitted, he lost his cool. It happens to all of us, especially when we're angry--which happens when the police arrest folks for no good reason. What group of people behaves perfectly all the time though? It would be good if those of us on the left could better embody the spirit of peace we're working for, but we're all imperfect people, socialized in an authoritarian and violent society and we carry that baggage with us. At least we're working on transforming the situation. As for the charge of "grandstanding"--well, when people are shut out of the public conversation (as the peace movement largely has been), you need to take actions which will force people to listen to you. Like I said, go read King. He says he would have loved to engage in dialogue with the city leaders of Birmingham, but whenever he and other civil righst leaders tried, the city leaders acted in bad faith. The civil rights movement had to force its way on to the public agenda through nonviolent but aggressive, confrontational actions. The peace movement today has to do the same.
Re: your point overtaken by rudeness
16 Jun 2005
Scott,

Give your grandfather a message from me: "Fuck You! I don't like to be laughed at."

First off, it's a kilt, not a skirt, and I wear it because I don't like having a sweaty scrotum. It's a comfort issue.

I am a veteran of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. I served for 4 years and was "honorably" discharged when my contract expired. I am affiliated with the American Legion, Jewish War Veterans, and Veterans for Peace. I was not a "protester." I showed up to the event and saw that a section was reserved for Iraq veterans, so I went to sit with my "comrades." The pigs threatened me with arrest because I tell the truth about war.

How many wars have you fought? What do you know about war that you haven't seen in movies or the newspapers? How many children have YOU threatened with an M249 SAW?

Matter of fact, I call bullshit. I think you just made up this WWII vet grandfather to arouse "sympathy" for the old guy.

Love,
Sholom
Re: Protesters Outnumber Military Supporters, as Peace Activists Protest Army Recruitment on the Cambridge Common
16 Jun 2005
You have to love the people who say we would have no freedoms if it weren't for the military but blame the millions of unjust deaths cause by the military on the politicians. What world do you live in???

The rights you have were granted to you in the constitution, something that a group of politicians created. Not the military.

The groups that feed politicians (mis)information that is used for the basis for war are military. (a.k.a. intellegence/security)

Go ahead and keep your heads burried in the sand so you can think that your hands are clean. The rest of us can figure out that deplomacy and democracy create freedom. The military creates corpses.
Get a life.
16 Jun 2005
You protesters make me sick. You talk about he military causing death and destruction. Do you really have any idea how many other countries would invade the U.S. if everyone in the military got sick of you bullsh*t and decided to quit. In a matter of days you all would be either hiding out or dead. All these other countries couldn’t careless about what happens to you. You should be thankful that you don’t have to put your asses on the line. Don’t you have anything better to do than b*tch and complain.
Rev Love-joy
16 Jun 2005
Oh noes! Here come the latin americans to take away my freedoms.

No apparently they don't have anything better to do that complain about the tragic and pointless deaths of thousands of the American citizens that you pretend to care about so much.

Don't you have anything better to do that whine and complain about other people who actually take action when they see a problem on a site where noone cares what you think?!
Obviously you care, since you replied
16 Jun 2005
I have nothing against people who protest in a civilized manner, but that spectacle was very far from civilized. How many of our civilians have been killed by then for no reason. When 911 happened this whole country was screaming for blood, but know that a few years have gone by you seem to have forgotten about all of the children and innocent people that were killed for no f*cking reason.
Re: Protesters Outnumber Military Supporters, as Peace Activists Protest Army Recruitment on the Cambridge Common
16 Jun 2005
Because we woke up to the coffee and realized that our screaming for blood was self-destructive and not even our own sentiments but mere echoes of what the politicians and media mogul were saying.

"Remember nine-eleven" = "Four legs good, two legs baaaaaaaad"
Re: Protesters Outnumber Military Supporters, as Peace Activists Protest Army Recruitment on the Cambridge Common
17 Jun 2005
"you seem to have forgotten about all of the children and innocent people that were killed for no f*cking reason."

Like the Iraqis and Afghanis?
Roughly 23,000 Iraqi citizens have been killed since the military intervention. (www.iraqbodycount.net)

How many of these were children and innocents?

Don't satiate yr greef by forcing it upon thuosands who had just as little to do with the 11th September attacks as you did.

Ass.
Re: Protesters Outnumber Military Supporters, as Peace Activists Protest Army Recruitment on the Cambridge Common
17 Jun 2005
That was a sorry display of a so called "peace protest". Name calling and verbal insults are the new way of bringing about peace? That must be something really new. So far the many, many people that I have talked with about this event have nothing but a deep disgust for the ignorant individuals that made fools of themselves. Additionally, these so called fighters for peace have galvanized and reinvigorated the members of the intelligent community to continue even harder to support their troops and family members. Thanks guys, keep up the good work! Your hard work and the fools that got themselves justly arrested are just plain silly! Finally, hats off to the great members of the law enforcement community for the professional way they conducted themselves even when confronted by silly and unstable individuals
Re: Protesters Outnumber Military Supporters, as Peace Activists Protest Army Recruitment on the Cambridge Common
17 Jun 2005
Dont feed the trolls.
Re: Protesters Outnumber Military Supporters, as Peace Activists Protest Army Recruitment on the Cambridge Common
17 Jun 2005
The way you exaggerate the protester numbers reeks of Bakunin. Bakunin was a liar!
alternatives to military and corporate service
18 Jun 2005
was not at the protest(didnt' find out about it 'til i read this article)-- but on a more positive and less troll-feeding note:
what can we as a hugely variated bunch-a activists and pro war-free world folks offer to the young kids who join the military because they think their only options are the service or mcdonalds?
part of the right wing strategy is to make economic conditions so unbearable that people feel forced to join up with the army or the corporate world-- how can we create alternatives to these two horrifying juggernauts of injustice, violence, and depravity?
whhen i think of alternatives, i think of free, community-based "universities", organizations like food nto bombs which re-distribute food in a fairer way, and less "radical" seeming programs like good afterschool programs that encourage kids to pursue their passions- i also think of people liek scott and helen nearing, as well as all teh various anarchist literature on how to live on almost no money so you can have time to pusue things.
anyone else?
and how does all this information get to high-school folks who need alternatives?
Re: Protesters Outnumber Military Supporters, as Peace Activists Protest Army Recruitment on the Cambridge Common
20 Jun 2005
I was there cuz I was born and raised in Cambridge, and I served in Vietnam and don't want any more vetereans. I was forced into the 'pen' after the Special Police Squad had set up an initial cordon after Dr Joe Gerson refused to move from where he was peaceably standing near the podium. The Special Police began to push us without asking us to move and I was pushed against an frail elderly woman and almost knocked her down and was threatened with arrest for objecting to her danger. Who would have been blamed for that harm? Why were their 'Special Police' on sight? Did the Mayor expect violence? This was a provocative act. The only ones I saw being violated were the citizens by the Special Police. These police were abused by the Mayor. They were pitted against fellow citizens protecting their right to protest. Why weren't they fighting crime? They crime I saw was the Mayor not inviting all 'stakeholders' to participate. Here was a wasted opportunity to engage the US Army in a dialogue to hear the 'people' speak out about their deceptive behavior in recruitment and inappropriate tactics in inducing our receptive youth into glorious military adventures without understanding the consequences of learning to kill, to destroy and be destroyed.
Can we all learn from this?
Re: Protesters Outnumber Military Supporters, as Peace Activists Protest Army Recruitment on the Cambridge Common
21 Jun 2005
Interesting way of looking at it. :)
Re: Protesters Outnumber Military Supporters, as Peace Activists Protest Army Recruitment on the Cambridge Common
21 Jun 2005
was saddened, angry, and hurt by what I witnessed on Cambridge Commons in Cambridge, Massachusetts on Flag Day, June 14, 2005. You see, I was an invited guest to attend the 230th birthday celebration of the US Army. It was on that location where George Washington took command of the Continental Army. But, with all the rich historical surroundings, fine examples of our troops about, also came the protestors. This was not unexpected, but what I witnessed from them most certainly was. As a veteran I was downright insulted by them. But this time, they sent no message other than one of hypocrisy and hate through their actions.

I respect the anti-war movement if for no other reasons than their freedom of speech for which so many have died to protect. But one thing this particular group of protesters failed to understand is that like in all matters of life, we have both expectations and boundaries. Put another way - there is right and wrong and there is a time and a place. Specifically what I refer to is the jeers and noise made during two different moments by protestors that day which only served to epitomize the concepts of insensitivity and callous disregard for those who are grieving a tremendous loss. I refer to the loved ones of soldiers lost in war.

The first incident took place when 11 year old Robert Smith was asked to lead the Pledge of Allegiance. Robert's father SFC Paul Smith is this nation's latest Medal of Honor recipient, awarded posthumously. While the protestors boo-ed and jeered I could only think that up there on that stage stood a brave young soul who most likely had his best friend, role model, and protector taken from him in an instant and these callous bastards couldn't see beyond themselves to give the young boy a break. This is only a child and widow trying to comprehend this tremendous loss. The protestor's "point" for lack of a better word, escaped me.

The second instance came about during the laying of the wreath ceremony with taps playing softly in the background. This was our chance, everyone's chance, to remember our dead; to honor our heroes; to say thanks; to pray; to hope for a merciful outcome for this grand experiment called life. The protestors droned on loud to the point of distraction during this moment of reflection and prayers, holding signs that said "Support our Troops - Bring Them Home." Was this how they supported the troops? Was this how they said Thank You to the families and soldiers who gave up more than they could ever imagine? Even enemy combatants in wars past when circumstances allowed have buried their enemies with full military honors. There are certain lines of respect that are clear not to cross even during times of war and turbulence. The lines were never so clear as they were that day - and these nitwits couldn't see it for their own egos.

If it were within me; which it is not, I would like to show up at each one of their next family funerals and disrupt it ad nauseam - but I just could not. I have unyielding respect for the memory of the dead and the sadness of the grieving. I simply cannot make the leap necessary in my mind that will have me understand what would motivate a group to hurt the memory of our heroes and the life of an 11 year old boy. What did I miss here?
Re: Protesters Outnumber Military Supporters, as Peace Activists Protest Army Recruitment on the Cambridge Common
23 Jun 2005
A small group of ignorant people attended the Army's birthday celebration with the only intent of disrupting it. Pretty shameful, kids!

Don't worry, the troops will soldier on and continue the mission as peacemakers.
to Katt
25 Jun 2005
Matt said something interesting a while back up the string... "...read King. He says he would have loved to engage in dialogue with the city leaders of Birmingham, but whenever he and other civil righst leaders tried, the city leaders acted in bad faith. The civil rights movement had to force its way on to the public agenda through nonviolent but aggressive, confrontational actions. The peace movement today has to do the same.... "what is nonviolent, yet confrontational..?asking questions. LIVING in the way we wish to see "the people" living. BEING PEACE. BEING FREE. hmmm...
Re: Protesters Outnumber Military Supporters, as Peace Activists Protest Army Recruitment on the Cambridge Common
27 Jun 2005
Scott,

Give your grandfather a message from me: "Fuck You! I don't like to be laughed at."

Well, consider your actions here... it's fine to be angry, you know becasue you're human and all, but your reply to Scott makes me wonder what the issue is with you and those like yourself. Is it the cause you care about, or is this just an opportunity to vent anger? It looks like the latter... honestly...

First off, it's a kilt, not a skirt, and I wear it because I don't like having a sweaty scrotum. It's a comfort issue.

Speaking as a guy who has immigrant relatives from Aberdeen Scotland, who also happen to have become very wealthy since arriving in the US, I'd say your choice of clothing is Ironic for a couple of reasons. One, all the Scots I know in the states lean REALLY far to the Right and Two, wool clothing in the summertime is just a bad idea if you're concerned about comfort. So you like to wear a kilt, you like the look of it, that's fine... there is no need to explain it to anyone or their 80 year old grandfather...

I am a veteran of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. I served for 4 years and was "honorably" discharged when my contract expired. I am affiliated with the American Legion, Jewish War Veterans, and Veterans for Peace.

Thanks for your service... you deserve a thanks as does everyone who gives of themselves for their ideals. The ideals are what drives the discourse that makes America great.

I was not a "protester." I showed up to the event and saw that a section was reserved for Iraq veterans, so I went to sit with my "comrades." The pigs threatened me with arrest because I tell the truth about war.

The truth about war is that it is tremendously boring most of the time. I am also a former soldier, 11B (Infantry, for the lay folk out there... sorry), honorably discharged, and a vet. Most of what we are shown in the media, though pretty horrible, is not the typical individual experience on a daily basis. Do people die, yes, is war ugly, yes, could we do without it, again, probably yes, but you are on the right track with the truth ideal. Follow through... you can't go wrong with it.

How many wars have you fought? What do you know about war that you haven't seen in movies or the newspapers? How many children have YOU threatened with an M249 SAW?

How many wars does a man need to fight to know that it's an ugly business. How many pictures does he need to see to get the idea about the bad side of it? Does he need to threaten children with a machinegun to know how he feels about it? I will point out that some people don't see a problem with any of this, even after doing these things...

Matter of fact, I call bullshit. I think you just made up this WWII vet grandfather to arouse "sympathy" for the old guy.

I had a grandfather, who didn't make it to his 80's, that joined the Army at 15. The recruiter helped him lie about his age because he was starving to death after running away from a Civilian Conservation Corps camp. The Manager of the camp was corrupt and made the workers pay for food that they should have been given for free. His best friend left with him as they traveled from Oklahoma to North Platt, Nebraska. His best friend froze to death on a freight train the day before they arrived. After enlisting, he ended up in the 25th Infantry at Hawaii on December 7th, the day the Japanese attacked. He later got Malaria in the Pacific theater and had migrane headaches for 10 years afterward because of the treatment. Believe it or not, this is a true story, every word of it.

I told this story to demonstrate a couple of things... one, people suffer in war (obvious, but easy to forget). No one who enlists can imagine what it's really like until they are there. Don't expect people to understand. I had heard this story several times and enlisted anyway. Two, no one is always right. The Civilian Conservation Corps, a social program designed to employ poor people, could be credited with giving my grandfather Malaria and killing his best friend if I spin it right. Deliver facts and trust in people to make an INFORMED decision. Finally, My grandfather, you, and I are what was really being protested that day, not the war. We are the kind of guys who are found in the Army. Personally, I do my best to be reasonable and fair. Would you oppose that?

Love,
Sholom
Re: Protesters Outnumber Military Supporters, as Peace Activists Protest Army Recruitment on the Cambridge Common
08 Jun 2006
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Re: Protesters Outnumber Military Supporters, as Peace Activists Protest Army Recruitment on the Cambridge Common
08 Jun 2006
good guestbook.
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