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News ::
Rally at Dudley, March to UMass Boston
06 Oct 2000
At 5:00pm on October 3, about two thousand people gathered at the Roxbury District Court building in Dudley Square to protest the death penalty and the exclusion of Ralph Nader from the presidential debate.
At 5:00pm on October 3, about two thousand people gathered at the Roxbury District Court building in Dudley Square to protest the death penalty and the exclusion of Ralph Nader from the presidential debate. After a brief rally in front of the Boston Police station, the group would march two miles to UMass Boston.

The festivities began with guerrilla theatre, signmaking and organizing in front of the courthouse. Protestors chanted and prepared for the long march ahead. "Free Mumia Abu Jamal" signs as well as several banners asking remembrance for Shaka Sankofa, and many other victims of the death penalty, were distributed.

At about 5:10pm, one of the organizers called everyone to assemble in front of "the pig sty," a reference to the police station around the corner. At that point several people made speeches from a makeshift podium located in the bed of a pick-up truck. One of the most notable speakers was former Boston School Committee member Felix Arroyo. Arroyo stated that "public education is failing our children" by not providing adequate schools or a proper education.

"They [the public school system] don't want our children to be free thinkers, they are scared that our children will be able to think for themselves." Arroyo went on to say, "they want to eliminate free education, they want us to believe that public education doesn't work." Arroyo riled up the crowd and everyone was pumped up for the march.

Just before 6:00, people began to fill Dudley Street and head east. The marchers stretched from sidewalk to sidewalk and began to chant, "Brick by brick, wall by wall, we're gonna free Mumia Abu Jamal," and "They say death row, we say Hell no

Joe Gomes, a resident of Roxbury who was observing from the sidewalk, explained that he first believed the march was one of the candidates heading to the debate. Once the march drew near he expressed his support for the march and stated "most of us around here feel the same [about the death penalty." He was quick to mention that if he did not have prior appointments that he would join the march.

Along the route through Roxbury and Dorchester (Dudley Street and Columbia Road) many people shouted praise and support from their porches and stoops. A few even joined in and followed the crowd to UMass Boston. By the time the march reached Upham's Corner it stretched for about four blocks.

The marchers came from alll over the nation and from all walks of life. Jesse Hegedus of Smith College, who came with the Lesbian Avengers, called the elections a "sham" since the candidates were not talking about real issues. She joined the march to support Mumia. Hegedus also attacked the "racism inherent in the death penalty."

Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner led the march from Upham's Corner to UMass Boston. Turner talked about the oppression of people of color and how it relates to the death penalty, as well as what he calls a "prison industrial complex."

Around 7:00pm, after an hour of marching, the protestors reached the intersection of Columbia Road and Morrissey Blvd. Surrounded by Gore supporters, mostly middle aged white males, the marchers raised their voices in order to be heard over the shouts of the Gore camp.

Upon entering Morrissey Blvd, the marchers were stopped by police, who were attempting to prevent the group from merging with the significant number of demonstrators already at the UMass Boston campus. However the force of three state troopers could not stop the will of a thousand. Once the group reached the campus they were led into a protest "pit" surrounded by police barricades, where they dissolved into the awaiting crowd of about 3,000.
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