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News ::
Peace Vigils in Copley & Harvard; the Drum Beats of War in Park St.
12 Sep 2001
Modified: 14 Sep 2001
This evening at 6:00 in Copley Square in Boston and Harvard Square in Cambridge, large vigils were held mourning for the dead in yesterday’s terrorist attacks and also calling on the US government not to respond to the attacks with more violence. At the same time an initially small nationalist rally in Park Street in Boston turned into a large crowd.
Peace Vigils in Copley and Harvard; the Drum Beats of War in Park Street

by Matthew Williams

Boston and Cambridge, MA, USA; September 12, 2001--This evening at 6:00 in Copley Square in Boston and Harvard Square in Cambridge, large vigils were held mourning for the dead in yesterday’s terrorist attacks and also calling on the US government not to respond to the attacks with more violence. At the same time an initially small nationalist rally in Park Street in Boston turned into a large, raucous crowd.

I attended the vigil in Copley Square. As I was walking there from Park Street, the twisted spirit of vengeance was clearly in the air. There was a small group of kids standing by the side of the road waving American flags and holding a sign reading, “Honk if you love America” to which passing cars were responding vigorously. I though it was at best in poor taste at a time when we should be mourning. There was also an SUV driving around flying a large American flag, with messages such as “Bin Laden, your ass is America’s” and “It’s time for WAR” written on its windows; this too was receiving honks of support.

Saddened and sickened, I continued on to Copley. There was a gathering of about 150 people there for the vigil. There were people from the peace movement, religious groups, and those who were simply unaffiliated but concerned. Organizer Roni Krouzman, with Boston Mobilization for Survival, said he expected the one happening simultaneously in Harvard Square to be even larger. Because of the police raid on the Weston Hotel earlier, there was also mainstream press present in Copley.

A banner reading “Nonviolence; Peace; Tolerance” was held up and people gathered in a circle with candles. Krouzman and Ruth Weisenbaum, a long time activist from Concord, Massachusetts, read a statement prepared by the organizing groups. They each then spoke briefly from their own hearts. This was followed by several minutes of silence. The group responded to a passing heckler by singing, “We Shall Overcome” once. After about forty-five minutes, people began to disperse.

The groups’ prepared statement read in part, “We fully condemn yesterday’s criminal and indiscriminate attacks which cannot be justified in any way. Violence is not the answer. An eye for an eye for an eye for an eye, for an eye leaves us all blind. As our nation begins to respond, we believe more deeply than ever that peace and democratic process is the way forward. Military retaliation and war will only add to the carnage with the killing and maiming of still more innocent civilians.” Krouzman and Weisenbaum also spoke of the need to change the system that leads to these cycles of violence worldwide.

People were urged to call their representative, senators, President Bush and Secretary of State Powell to let them know that they opposed the US responding with more violence. People were also encouraged to organize vigils in their own neighborhoods and schools, and to simply speak out gently but firmly when they heard people calling for war or making bigoted comments about Arabs or Muslims.

Interviewed afterward, Krouzman said that we were “there to mourn the victims and feel how terrible these acts are. In one way, I think this helps people understand how terrible these acts are in other countries as well when they’re perpetrated by the US or US allies. It’s easier to understand what people [feel] in the West Bank or East Timor or other countries we’ve invaded or supported invasions of, when it actually happens here at home. It was a message of mourning but also of peace and tolerance.”

Most people felt some hope given the large turn out at the vigil. It was clear that it will be an uphill struggle though. Krouzman said that when he’d been putting up flyers for the vigil he returned five minutes later to find them torn down; he also received a call at his office telling him that they were sick for organizing a peace vigil on this date.

This became even clearer to me as I walked through Park Street, returning from Copley. The small group of flag-waving kids had grown to a raucous crowd of 250, lining both sides of the street. They were chanting “U!S!A!” and shouting out the national anthem. A policeman said it had been going on for some time and it showed no sign of letting up.

The desire for revenge is, of course, normal. The question is whether we can show enough people that it is a dead end.

For more information on how you can help, call the American Friends Service Committee at 617-661-6130.
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Peace sells....
12 Sep 2001
You will all be calling for war if your homes were firebombed or if radical muslims let loose in the streets.

I hope they fry the S.O.Bs who orchestrated this.

Without the sacrifice made by millions of American past and present. THERE WOULD BE NO PEACE. Remember that.


Anonymous
on the so called War rally - my bird's eye
13 Sep 2001
This became even clearer to me as I walked through Park Street, returning from Copley. The small group of flag-waving kids had grown to a raucous crowd of 250, lining both sides of the street. They were chanting “U!S!A!” and shouting out the national anthem. A policeman said it had been going on for some time and it showed no sign of letting up.

The desire for revenge is, of course, normal. The question is whether we can show enough people that it is a dead end.

I was there watching. The kids, mostly freshman and freshwomen from the Suffolk University dorm on Tremont St. adjacent to the Common were chanting USA for spirit, because most HONESTLY were deeply saddened by the deaths, and this is the ONLY outlet they know. THEY ARE MOSTLY not very religious and the STATE is GOD, almost. I am not saying this in a bad way.

The kids were not chanting WAR or slogans against Arabs either, although the truck with slogans rode by every 10 minutes to loud cheers, EVERY CAR THAT HONKED EVOKED A LOUD CHEERING FROM THE KIDS over a 2 hour (at least) period when a lot of cars were in Boston.

My point? The kids were expressing their MUTUAL AID and SOLIDARITY for each other and the people around them, especially NYC, but theIR country as well - because THAT IS WHAT THEY KNOW. DO YOU GET IT, PUNK? DO YA? You should stoop to the level of the people sometimes.
on the so called War rally - my bird's eye
13 Sep 2001
This became even clearer to me as I walked through Park Street, returning from Copley. The small group of flag-waving kids had grown to a raucous crowd of 250, lining both sides of the street. They were chanting “U!S!A!” and shouting out the national anthem. A policeman said it had been going on for some time and it showed no sign of letting up.

The desire for revenge is, of course, normal. The question is whether we can show enough people that it is a dead end.

I was there watching. The kids, mostly freshman and freshwomen from the Suffolk University dorm on Tremont St. adjacent to the Common were chanting USA for spirit, because most HONESTLY were deeply saddened by the deaths, and this is the ONLY outlet they know. THEY ARE MOSTLY not very religious and the STATE is GOD, almost. I am not saying this in a bad way.

The kids were not chanting WAR or slogans against Arabs either, although the truck with slogans rode by every 10 minutes to loud cheers, EVERY CAR THAT HONKED EVOKED A LOUD CHEERING FROM THE KIDS over a 2 hour (at least) period when a lot of cars were in Boston.

My point? The kids were expressing their MUTUAL AID and SOLIDARITY for each other and the people around them, especially NYC, but theIR country as well - because THAT IS WHAT THEY KNOW. DO YOU GET IT, PUNK? DO YA? You should stoop to the level of the people sometimes.
update & comment from author
13 Sep 2001
The AFSC put out a statement saying that the gathering in Harvard Square was 500 people--really impressive.

I understand that the rally in Park Street was a way for people to deal with their grief. Perhaps I should have said that there were also people there with candles. The fact is that the SUV with the message calling for war was getting a lot of honks of support. And I think the emotion in that sort of flag-waving rally can easily be harnessed for war. It was, as I said, nationalist. But there is no question that the emotions going on in that rally were complicated and I probably oversimplified things. Thank you for bringing the point up.
Our country is great DESPITE our leaders
13 Sep 2001
I am from a mostly white, mostly working-class town... I see a lot of flag-waving going on the past 2 days. A call for revenge in our local newspaper headline, a paper recently bought out by corporate elites. In a local diner I hear comments like "they are laughing at us!" "we have to show them" "if we drop bombs on them they won't be laughing"
Revenge
13 Sep 2001
Death in itself is difficult to deal with. Death attached to accidents, suicide, disease is seemingly senseless driving people to wonder why, not ever really getting an answer. Death because of war, revenge, jealousy, hatred is never going to end because people accept these excuses as a fact of life just like turning 92. But these things are not mutually exclusive they are worlds, and lifetimes apart. To seek revenge for the deaths of our friends and family and fellow human beings (not everyone of the estimated 4,000 people was from the USA) by simply killing more innocent people will solve no problems. Revenge is cancer. Once it starts, it spreads, takes over, until its host can no longer support it. Does anyone honestly think, that if revenge is what leads a nation, the "most powerful of all nations," that anything will be left standing. I wish people would let go of all the invasion fantasies and for just a short time, even an hour, picture six billion people at rest. Ask yourself, do you condone rape? Then there should be no war. Do you condone starvation? Then there should be no war. Do you condone burning someone to death, watching family members being killed in front of your own eyes, mass suicide....these are all faces of REVENGE. There should be no war. Over the years we have heard of so much carnage all in the name of revenge, why? Because people think someone better than them should be in charge, making decisions, calling the shots. Shot after shot...always in the dark.

I call for all Americans to stop and think for themselves, how they could best represent their country if it was up to them to make a decision. Do we really want more innocent blood on our hands?

A vigil is for mourning, but is also an opportunity for people to come to grips with a difficult situation the best way they know how. Did anyone speak to the kids shouting USA. Oh yeah, they were just kids. Sometimes we can hold a candle, sometimes we can be a silent observer, sometimes we wave a banner.
Response: Philosophy versus Practicality
14 Sep 2001
As someone who deeply believes in methods of non-violence as means for bringing about change, the past few days have created a burning conflict in me, probably as it has in many of you.
After much thought and many prayers, I can only come to this conclusion: in war, our enemies have one mission - to kill as many of us as possible. Of course, this is not a war (not yet, anyway, despite some loose-lipped expressions of the word). We cannot make pleas for non-violence, for that will not stop our enemies, whomever they many be.
Of course, intolerance and racism must be met head-on, and vocally, by anyone who bears witness to it: we did not start shouting anti-white/right-wing slurs when Timothy McVeigh attacked Oklahoma City, and we should not start shouting anti-Arab/Islam slurs now that the main "suspects" are Arabs.
But, unfortunately, this is not a time to "come to grips" with what has happened, or a time to "heal." Let the pain hurt us, and let us respond with the same directed anger (an intelligent anomisty, if you will) we had after Pearl Harbor. We are angry when people are racist, we are angry when the United States causes pain and devastation to civilians around the world. Let us now be angry that the pain and devastation has been caused to our own people.