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The DNC: To Protest or not to Protest.

Pete Stid Boston, 2004

A number of local and national groups are organizing large demonstrations against the Democratic National Convention, yet many people are asking why. “Shouldn’t we be supporting anyone who can replace Bush?” they ask. Anti-authoritarians feel that protesting the DNC would effectively be a demand for better candidates, thus going against their message that any leader is illegitamate. Others seem to answer any political activism call with, “What the hell difference will it make?” In the same way that all of these statements show a divided and unorganized movement for change, they also show the potential for a unified movement, and a singular goal. An ideal “teaching moment” for a new direction towards direct democracy is presented to us all this July at the DNC. The message should be “change the system” not “regime change”. It is time to begin dismantling the centralization of power in the hands of the Republicans and the Democrats.

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17 Feb 2004 | Filed under: News / DNC : Organizing
Stop & Shop Contract Negotiations: General Strike for Health Care?
The United Food and Commercial Worker’s Union (UFCW) contract with Stop & Shop Supermarket Company expires on February 14th, 2004 at midnight. Negotiations about the contract began in July of last year, when Stop & Shop proposed outrageous changes to their renewal contract with the UFCW. There are 120 Stop & Shop grocery stores in the State of Massachusetts alone, and Stop & Shop is the #1 grocery retailer in New England. The UFCW local Union 1459 will be voting on the contract proposal on Sunday February 15th, 2004 in West Springfield, MA. The New England, New York and New Jersey UFCW labor movement has agreed to take whatever means necissary to "protect the livelihood of their members and families." If an agreement is not negotiated, a general stike and picket line are the only alternative to preserving their workplace rights.

Update: Nearly 600 Local 1459 grocery store workers voted unaminously to approve a new three year contract with their employer, Stop & Shop. Leadership from Local 1459, along with the four other unions that represent 42,000 Stop & Shop workers, ironed out their differences with Stop & Shop management and negotiated a last minute agreement into the wee hours of Febrary 15th, 2004.
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14 Feb 2004 | Filed under: News / Labor
The Massachusetts Constitution Has Not Been Amended to Ban Gay Marriage--For Now
The Constitutional Convention is now in recess until Thursday, March 11. Following two days of wrangling over multiple amendments and fillibustering by opponents of any amendment (the supporters of gay marriage), no amendment has been voted out of the ConCon to amend the Constitution--yet. On the first day of the ConCon, the crowds on the street were huge--competing sides shouting, holding signs, arguing past each other, and the like. On the second day, the people who were there--about 500 at its peak--were overwhelmingly people who supported the rights of same-sex couples to marry. I don't think I saw a group of same-sex marriage opponents larger than 5 people all day Thursday. The fight isn't over. The ConCon will resume on March 11. My experience in legislative work, indeed in any form of queer work, says we're going to lose. I still think that some kind of amendment restricting marriage to only opposite-sex couples will pass. I'm also fairly confident, though, that when (if) this amendment goes to the citizens of MA, they will reject it. The polling data I've seen so far has shown support for same-sex marriage itself as slightly ahead of not allowing it. Opposition to amending the Constitution is at around 60%.
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13 Feb 2004 | Filed under: News / GLBT/Queer
Separate but Equal isn't Equal: MA Constitutional Amendment?
On Tuesday November 18, 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that equal protection provisions of the Massachusetts State Constitution require that same-sex couples be permitted to marry. In short, gay marriage was found legal under Massachusetts Constitutional law. The immediate response to this historic decision included celebration and enthusiasm by civil liberties advocates, as well as dismayed reactionism from conservatives. On Wednesday, February 11th, an anti-"Gay Marriage Constitutional Amendment" will be voted on by a joint session of the Massachusetts Senate and House of Representatives. Basic human rights and equality are at stake, and this historic decision may spell the future for gay rights in Massachusetts...
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09 Feb 2004 | Filed under: News / GLBT/Queer
With the Gary Sampson Death Sentencing, Activists Say No to the Federal Death Penalty
sampson-main.jpgOn Thursday, January 29, Federal Judge Mark L. Wolf formally sentenced convicted killer Gary Sampson to death by lethal injection or hanging. In Judge Wolf’s own sentencing statement, he made it clear that the reason for Sampson’s death sentence was purely for retribution – not deterrence or rehabilitation. He was required by law to give the death sentence when recommended by a jury. Opponents of the death penalty gathered on Thursday to hold banners and signs outside the courthouse in a vigil to say that the death penalty is not the answer to the pain of the victim’s families, to whom they offered their greatest sympathies. During the course of day, protestors were harassed and discriminated against by police, security and courthouse staff.
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31 Jan 2004 | Filed under: News / Human Rights
No Contracts, No Peace!: Thousands of Angry Workers Turn Out To Heckle Boston Mayor
Upwards of 5,000 workers braved the cold temperatures to embarrass the mayor on the night of his most important speech of the year in protest of the unions' protracted contract dispute with the city. Many union leaders promised that this demonstration was a small taste of the potential disruption that is expected to take place during the Democratic National Convention if the city does not meet the union's demands.
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14 Jan 2004 | Filed under: News / Labor
New Year’s Eve Vigil Against the Israeli Occupation of Palestine and the Wall
DCP_0001-2.JPGOn December 31, 2003, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. in the midst of Boston’s New Year’s festivities, a group of about forty people held a vigil near the Park St. T-stop against the Israeli occupation of Palestine. This has become an annual event, and the focus of this year’s vigil was the Wall (called by some the “Apartheid Wall”) that Israeli is building in the midst of the Occupied Territories, which it invaded in and has controlled since 1967. Although the current Israeli government, lead by Ariel Sharon, claims that the Wall is for security purposes--to prevent suicide bombers--many feel that it has little to do with security. Its primary purpose seems to be to annex valuable Palestinian agricultural land and water aquifers to Israel. Critics of the occupation argue that the Wall and the occupation simply create more terrorism by destroying Palestinians’ livelihoods and any hope they have of a peaceful settlement, driving them into despair and the feeling as though they have nothing to live for anyway.
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03 Jan 2004 | Filed under: News / Human Rights : International
Charges Against Van Der Meer Dropped
A judge ratified an agreement (for "pre-trial probation") under which all the charges against Tony Van Der Meer were essentially dropped. Last April 3, Van Der Meer - a Black professor of Africana studies at UMass Boston - was assaulted and arrested by campus police after challenging an Army National Guard recruiter on campus who had threatened student Tony Naro as he handed out flyers for an anti-war commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination. Van Der Meer tried to mediate the tense situation, but five officers put him under arrest.
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23 Dec 2003 | Filed under: News / Human Rights
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