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News ::
Saturday Protests?
17 Dec 2000
How did the protests go?
How were the protests this Saturday? I heard there were a number of different ones going in somewhat the same area. The anti iraq sactions group was supposed to be doing something to protest the presidency I think and I saw a lot of stickers for the Nike Town protest. How did they go?
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what the hell
18 Dec 2000
Yeah, what the hell is going on? I thought Boston iNdymedia would report this
Niketown protests
18 Dec 2000
There were about 75 (?) protestors on saturday in front of Niketown and the Gap. There were some speeches which were barely audible, chants, and flyering. A few of us stood in front of Niketown attempting to dissuade people from entering. There was a meager police presence at first but after a few of us (unsuccesfully) tried to block Newbury St. they brought a wagon and a few more cops. There was alot of noise for awhile, and I think we shamed a few customers. I think people should decide what kind of tactics will be effective and what the collective goals are. I was expecting something a little more direct. Next Saturday same place.
Remarks at demo protesting sweatshops
19 Dec 2000
I work for the Service Employees International Union as a campaign coordinator and union organizer.

The problem with retailers like the Gap and Nike is not just with how their products are made. It is also with how they are sold.

Sweatshop working conditions, child labor exploitation, and violations of workers’ freedom of association are major human rights problems here in Massachusetts.

For example, this year Stop and Shop was found guilty and fined $25,000 for major safety and health violations of U.S. child labor laws at three of their Massachusetts stores. And did you know that 10 percent of their workforce is under the age of 18?

And last year, Toys ‘R’ Us was found guilty of over working 14 and 15 year olds past the length of time permitted by federal labor laws. They were fined only $200,000.

Other federal child labor law violators here in Massachusetts this year included Ponderosa Steak House, T.J. Maxx, Dunkin Donuts, Blockbuster Video, and McDonalds.

These companies got off easy with fines totaling only $126,000. Sadly this is just the tip of the iceberg. Most employers that abuse children don’t ever caught. And the few that do, get off with a slap on the wrist.

The widespread – and growing – exploitation of children undermines lower wage adult workers ability to win higher wages and better benefits. And it’s contributing to the steady erosion of workers’ earning power.

Did you know that Massachusetts’s workers are earning less than they did a decade ago and income inequality is widening? Over the last ten years huge wage gains have been made for the rich (the top 5 percent of workers). Their income increased by 64 percent. But pay for poor workers stuck at the bottom (the lowest 20 percent) has actually dropped by 5 percent!

The real tragedy is that illegal child labor where ever it occurs endangers childrens’ lives and robs them of a broader education and the joys of just being a kid.

If we want to have a lasting impact on the pay and working conditions for Gap and Nike workers overseas, we need build a movement that connects the fight for fair trade with the struggle of low wage workers here in Massachusetts. The best way to do that is to work to end child labor abuses here and support the right of all workers’ to organize!

Thank you.
Poor tactics at this sigle-issue protest
20 Dec 2000
Last saturday I went to the GAP and Niketown protest on Newbury Street. While I agree 100% with what the protesters were singing and talking against, I believe that more serious thought should've been put regarding the tactics and organization of the said event. This is not to say that protests like the one on saturday should be avoided and not encouraged. On the contrary the word has to put out on the street of the poor working conditions in not only developing countries but also the US and other industrialized nations.
However it is because of mistakes and neglections on the part of us (the protestors, activists and others fighting for social justice) that the general public views the various movements for social change as simple and childish rebellion without cause. Single issue protests are not only narrow in message, but also detrimental for genuine social movements.
It is not only about a group of sweatshops, it is about the shitty conditions of ALL workers (be it China, Central America, Georgia, France, or India). It is about the evils of global capital. It is about the immoral prioritization of economic profit over human advancement.
Furthermore the reformist and passive tone of the protest itself was pitiful to say the least. When a group of the protesters (seemingly not among those organizing the event) cried out: "what goes around, comes around/ let's burn niketown to the ground", the majority of the people around the mentioned group threw insults and urged them to quiet down. "Shut the fuck up" was their exact response. Later, reacting to the always intrusive and protester-unfriendly police officers, the same group chanted: "cops: sweatshop army." They were again insulted and silenced. Whether or not you agree with what these chants say, different points of view should always be respected during a protest.
People even suggested that "it (wasn't) about the cops/ it's about sweatshops" in an attempt to appease to the police officers. Granted police officers are workers too, and at that particular event the police were not the target of the demonstration. However what it all comes down too s that
Poor tactics at this sigle-issue protest
20 Dec 2000
Last saturday I went to the GAP and Niketown protest on Newbury Street. While I agree 100% with what the protesters were singing and talking against, I believe that more serious thought should've been put regarding the tactics and organization of the said event. This is not to say that protests like the one on saturday should be avoided and not encouraged. On the contrary the word has to be put out on the street of the poor working conditions in not only developing countries but also the US and other industrialized nations.
However it is because of mistakes and neglections on the part of us (the protestors, activists and others fighting for social justice) that the general public views the various movements for social change as simple and childish rebellion-without-cause.
Single issue protests are not only narrow in message, but also detrimental for genuine social movements. It is not only about a group of sweatshops, it is about the shitty conditions of ALL workers (be it in China, Central America, Georgia, France, or India). It is about the evils of global capital. It is about the immoral prioritization of economic profit over human advancement.
Furthermore, the reformist and passive tone of the protest itself was pitiful to say the least. When a group of the protesters (seemingly not among those organizing the event) cried out: "what goes around, comes around/ let's burn niketown to the ground" the majority of the people around the mentioned group threw insults and urged them to quiet down. "Shut the fuck up" was their exact response. Later, reacting to the always intrusive and protester-unfriendly police officers, the same group chanted: "cops: sweatshop army." They were again insulted and silenced. Whether or not you agree with what these chants say, different points of view should always be respected during a protest so long as these protestors are fighting for the same cause and protesting the same injustices.
People even suggested that "it (wasn't) about the cops/ it (was) about sweatshops" in an attempt to appease to the police officers. Granted, police officers are workers too, and at that particular event the police were not the target of the demonstrators. However what it all comes down to is that the police is the armed force of the repressive state we live under, and we shouldn't try to sympathize with it.
Finally a comment on the tactics employed by the protestors. Chanting, giving speeches and handing out flyers are very effective forms of protest. But these need to be accompanied by something else, especially when there is only a group of under a hundred people demonstrating. And I understand that the character of the protest was non-violent. But non-violent does not mean passive. Perhaps the protestors would've been wise in blocking the street or better yet the entrance to the stores. Or maybe even started the protest outside and then bring the people, banners, chants and fliers inside the stores. There are many creative forms of non-violent protest that could've produced more effective results.
I hope that next saturday the protest goes better than last time. I hope that it can serve to raise awareness among the people. Not by simply pointing out that some people "rather be wearing nothing than GAP", but that the issues concerning the conditions of the workers around a world of ever expanding capital need to be addressed.

Carlos
demo=good. pics?
21 Dec 2000
hey, i went to the demo, and i thought it went pretty well. we raised a good ruckus and definitely hurt 'business' as usual; i think it is awesome that people spontaneously decided to return this saturday, hopefully turning the protest at 'sweatshop square' into a weekly-type deal.

i don't agree with what carlos said about tactics. you've got to think: who was the audience and what was the goal? well, the goal was first and foremost to hurt the gap and nike's business for abusing their workers. the audience was a bunch of newbury st yuppies who i think would have been much more inclined to dismiss us as 'childish rebels without a cause' if there had been a bunch of black-masked kids standing around hollering 'smash the state! burn down niketown!'; they would have dismissed us out of hand as a bunch of mindless idiots with no idea what we were talking about. it pretty much even goes without saying that sweatshops=bad; the fact that signs and flyers included specific info on wages and working conditions in gap & nike sweatshops was a definite plus, and certainly may have helped change the minds of a few people who ordinarily would've been like 'dumb kids' by giving them some specific facts. and while they may not be total anti-capitalist converts yet, it might have got them thinking, 'huh, maybe these people *do* know what they're talking about ... !'

and again, if you really want to burn down niketown, that's awesome, but do it in the middle of the night or something don't just shoot your mouth off at a basically public consumer education action where it will make us all look stupid & get ignored! you have to start small with some people, especially newbury street types.

oh yeah. and does anyone have any good pictures they'd like to post/share?

hope to see you all there again saturday!

peAce,
~janek