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News ::
Death and Taxes Festival Stops Raytheon's Parts Shipment (english)
13 Apr 2003
In the most creative outpouring of protest that I have seen, about 100 people marched from the IRS building in Andover MA to the Raytheon weapons plant, just down the road, where they blocked the front entrance, preventing a parts shipment. Without it's Saturday shipment, Raytheon cannot build Tomahawk Missiles for the rest of the week.
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In the most creative outpouring of protest that I have seen, about 100 people marched from the IRS building in Andover MA to the Raytheon weapons plant, just down the road, where they blocked the front entrance, preventing a parts shipment. Without it's Saturday shipment, Raytheon cannot build Tomahawk Missiles for the rest of the week.
I knew right away that this was no normal protest. The tip-off was when a few glassy-eyed twenty-somethings hopped out of a beat up old pickup truck and asked me to help them assemble a ten-foot high papier-mache duck, the figurehead of their anarchist group, the Quack Block. It took us about ten minutes to assemble the creature, who’s sides bore statements like “Anarchy doesn’t mean no rules, it means no rulers,” and about ten more minutes to wheel it to the main protest, in front of the I.R.S. building in Andover, MA.
There were about forty people at that point, standing around with signs, giant model missiles, and a variety of other creative and fun protest gear. One of my favorites was a chain gaing, six gagged protesters chained together being led by a man with a sub-machine gun and a sign that said "Big Business." My affinity group (NPFP) and I had come prepared, and we quickly unraveled our own large banner, as well as producing some poster-board and markers, to make signs that said “Democracyland Will Be CLOSED Until Further Notice,” which we hung on the chain link fence in front of the IRS building, on police barricades, and just about everywhere else that the cops touched.
Speaking of the cops, there weren’t very many of them. Just local Andover police, about 6 patrol cars worth. No riot cops or anything, which after the Tufts protest was quite a relief. These cops were not well trained to deal with protesters, however, and they were extremely verbally abusive. I’d rather be called a “Commie Fag,” though, than be beaten profusely with three-foot wooden clubs.
Shortly after we arrived, my crew and I were asked if we wished to be Jedi Knights. We consented, and were soon costumed and armed with retractable light sabers (not much good against a baton…)
Across the street, about five protesters formed a mock counter-protest, wearing Cow outfits and carrying signs like “Citizens Oblivious to the World,” and “Ignorance is Strength.” They shouted exaggerated obscenities at us and gave us the finger frequently. It was hilarious.
After some time, we marched (on the side of the road, much to my dismay) to Raytheon, about a quarter of a mile away. The police had cordoned off the road, however, so we succeeded in blocking traffic without even walking in the street.
As we crossed Rt. 93 on the overpass, several protesters tore down a God Bless America placard and reattached it upside-down. Other posters were quickly attached with duct tape, but were later removed by police, who did not remove the multiple American flags that have been on that overpass for months.
Once we arrived at Raytheon, we assembled in the opening of the driveway, completely blocking it. The police re-opened the road, but no cars could enter Raytheon itself. Several impromptu speakers spoke through a mega-phone brought by organizers. Street theater, puppetry, and a few songs set the tone, and the event culminated with a speech from Grandmaster Yoda, during which he decried to the CEO of Raytheon: “Yoda’s bitch you will be.”
One news camera, from Channel Five was there, and many protesters heckled the cameraman, booing the news for its biased coverage of the war in Iraq. The reporter actually agreed with many of the protesters, and when I spoke with him he said that he was really sick and tired of the propaganda machine that the mass media was turning into. I told him how NBC is owned by General Electric, which caught him quite by surprise.
A man who used to work at the Andover Plant in Raytheon told me how much effect our protest really had, and how direct our action was, despite its humorous nature. Raytheon receives parts shipments every Saturday, and if they don’t receive one, they cannot build Tomahawk Missile’s for an entire week.
The event was organized by the Lawrence Grassroots Network, with help from the People's Global Action Network. Visit http://pgan.apan.org for more information.