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News :: Organizing
Youth Organized Anti-War Rally Sets the Mood for Resistance
06 Dec 2004
A summary of the Anti-War Protest that Started in Boston Commons @ 1:00 on Dec. 4th.
Youth Organized Anti-War Rally Sets the Mood for Resistance

Up and coming youth activists may be just the thing to breathe fresh life into Boston’s anti-war movement. Protesters at December 4th’s rally, which started at the Boston Commons bandstand and included a march down Newbury Street, exhibited an enthusiasm not seen at earlier demonstrations this year. More than 15 persons spoke and led the crowd in chanting various slogans, such as “Drop Bush Not Bombs!!!” and “Money for Schools Not War!!!” The day was peaceful for the most part, although after the march a group of about 50 persons decided to challenge the police and “take to the streets,” blocking traffic. Pushing matches and harsh words ensued but no arrests or serious injuries have been reported.
The Boston Student Mobilization to End the War, an ad hoc group of students from local colleges, universities, and high schools organized the event but a healthy cross section of society attended. Howard Zinn, famed author and activist, estimated that about 400 persons had come. During his speech, he stated simply, “We have sent our troops half way around the world for reasons no one can explain adequately, except with lies. . . We don’t belong in Iraq.” He also commented that Vietnam era rallies in the Commons had started with the same attendance but with time they had grown to 100 times this size.
The vitality demonstrated by speakers such as Matt Stuart leaves little doubt that support for the anti-war cause will similarly increase. Matt, a student at U Mass Boston and member of Socialist Alternative, called the Bush administration, “Profiteering designers of Hell on Earth,” during his speech. Huge sighs rang out from the crowd when he cited statistics that an estimated 84,000 college students will lose their Pell Grants next year due to budget cuts, while tuition will increase 7%. The gradual decrease in social programs constituted a major complaint of the protesters.
As Marissa Brookes, another speaker pointed out, “We’re not just anti-war: we’re for building a Boston wide progressive movement.” Each speaker, in fact, focused on a different theme. For instance, Bina Ahmad demanded the Boston anti-war movement include the liberation of Palestine as one of its objectives. Her passionate speech, inspired by a recent trip to the Middle East, cited 56 years of on going war and occupation in Palestine. Another activist, Gan Golan, from a group spearheading the proposed Ban on Less Lethal Weapons, asked everyone to make impromptu calls on their cell phones to the Boston Police Commissioner and the Mayor. He even went so far as to give out the telephone numbers (617-343-4250 & 617-635-4500 respectively) so every one could call and at least leave messages for the public officials in support of the ban and the formation of a Civilian Review Board for all complaints of police brutality.
This type of diversity in the topics being discussed did not enliven everyone, however. During Golan’s presentation a heckler remarked that this was just supposed to be and anti-war rally. Ahmad’s portrayal of Palestinian issues also left some members of the crowd visibly confused. A more moderate, perhaps less well informed, minority in attendance, did not seem to understand the direction that the so-called “radical left” has taken in recent years. Nonetheless, when Patrick Ayers of Socialist Alternatives railed against the Democratic Party, saying “We need to build a party for the millions against the millionaires,” an array of people offered resounding applause. Likewise, Mike Gould’s raging screams for everyone to “Rise up and fight” were favorably accepted. He said, “Our democracy isn’t a democracy until we take to it the streets,” and overwhelming cheers came back in response.
After the speeches, the large group marched to Copley Square, chanting, playing drums, screaming, and dancing. Several people shopping or hanging out on Newbury Street joined the parade but the exact route to be taken seemed to be a point of confusion. As the crowd got split up, several people began to see an opportunity to challenge police, who were trying to herd the throng onto the sidewalk. The surly attitude of some of the officers instigated this mood further but nothing of significance took place.
As the rally in Copley Square dwindled in the cold (it was about 31 degrees), a group of about 50+ persons decided to “take to the streets,” marching arm in arm, blocking traffic and chiding pedestrians with the chant, “Keep shoppin’ while the bombs are droppin’!!” The group made it all the way down Newbury Street to Massachusetts Avenue and back up Boylston Street to the Boston Public Library. Along the way, police repeatedly attempted to disperse the crowd, even driving a motorcycle through the locked arms. Ultimately, after a few minor but passionate confrontations, members of the break away protest seemed satisfied that at least some act of civil disobedience had been accomplished and they left.

This work is in the public domain