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News ::
Boston Area Peace Movement In Action
12 Nov 2001
Modified: 26 Nov 2001
As US battleships and aircraft carriers set sail for the Arabian Sea in September, another mobilization was already underway in Boston and across the country—the new peace movement.
As US battleships and aircraft carriers set sail for the Arabian Sea in September, another mobilization was already underway in Boston and across the country—the new peace movement.
Including city-wide demonstrations, vigils, organizational meetings, teach-ins, debates, and Internet networking, the Boston anti-war effort has established a weekly schedule and wide-reaching coalitions in the weeks since the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks.
Joseph Gerson, an organizer of the United for Justice with Peace coalition, describes his group’s immediate goals in simple terms. “Stop the bombing in Afghanistan,” he said. “Push for taking care of the starving, freezing people. Address the September 11 crimes internationally, through cooperation and law.”
United for Justice with Peace has emerged as Boston’s largest peace coalition, working through the American Friends Service Committee and working with groups like Boston Mobilization for Survival, Boston Global Action Network, and the Boston Campus Anti-War Coalition. Within a week September 11, the coalition had established a weekly peace vigil at Copley Square and organizational meetings afterword.
“We got off to a very good start,” said Gerson. “We’ve had some well-attended events, with rallies and marches on October 14th being the high point so far.”
Gerson said the group is now focusing on developing community outreach groups in areas like Roslindale to bring new people into the movement. They are also coordinating members to write letters to and set up meetings with Congressmen. Gerson said that his coalition is not relying on any one particular organizing strategy to forward its message.
“There are a limited number of models for going about this kind of thing. You just have to pick the right one at the right time,” he said. “The main thing for us to do is break the silence and to reframe the debate about the war.” The Internet, he said, has been a very useful tool in networking with other groups and communicating with the rest of the world.
Recent rallies have included a diverse set of speakers and artists coming together behind the anti-war message. Merrie Najimy of the Arab-American Andi-Discrimination Committee, Unitarian Rev. Fred Small, Rabbi Marty Fredeman, and historian Howard Zinn, among others, have all presented speeches at the demonstrations.
Najimy, speaking at an October 8 rally at Government Center, said that terrorists are people like Timothy McVeigh and Osama bin Laden, who blow up buildings full of innocent people. “It is time to face terrorism, but not with more terrorism,” she said.
Also organizing anti-war events is the Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (A.N.S.W.E.R.) Coalition. The A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition organized a march and rally on Saturday, October 27 in downtown Boston, including speeches by Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner and 350 energetic activists. Marchers debated on the sidewalks with fifteen pro-war activists who showed up to counter-protest. A.N.S.W.E.R. organized marches in several US cities that day, and also put together a march in Washington, D.C. on September 29. The group is affiliated with the International Action Center.
In addition to demonstrations and protests, Boston has also hosted several other types of peace movement events. Howard Zinn has given speeches and teach-ins in Boston and Cambridge and foreign policy critic Noam Chomsky spoke to three auditoriums full of people one night at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
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More details on different groups
15 Nov 2001
Boston Global Action Network (BGAN) is itself a network of over 20 groups focused on Global Justice issues (the "Seattle" movement so to speak). As a network of diverse organizations, it has not formerly endorsed the United for Justice with Peace platform, as its members have not come to consensus. However many of its member groups and active members have joined the UJWP coalition, while others continue to work on many other issues, including labor and the environment.

As sort of the torchbearer of the global justice movement in the Boston, BGAN is coping with the fact that even before 9-11, the movement was a bit threadbare with coalitions forming and reforming and the fragile idea of the network fraying a bit. However, the IMF/World Bank protests in late September were engendering enormous optimism as the movement evolved and became more mature and inclusive. September 11 shortcircuited that, although BGAN has recently rededicated itself to keeping the dialogue going between different groups who represent diverse constituencies. One of the key priorities is the inclusion of labor, and its important place in the movement.
20 Nov 2001
Did any of you guys hear about our N18 anti-war demo over in London? The English media was pretty quiet and generally only quoted the police reported numbers (disgracefully low figure) - but we were there, 100,000 marching against the war... The government must take note!
If we could build and force Blair to listen, what effect could he have on Bush?
One event you missed
23 Nov 2001
There was also the small matter of a 2000-person march that United for Justice with Peace sponsored on the 14th, but that hasn't seemed to get any coverage besides a linnk to a Boston Globe article. IMC unable to make it that day?
24 Nov 2001
If you mean October 14th, we did make it and we even mentioned it in the article you just posted to, "Disgruntled." Not only is it mentioned in this article, but it was also featured on the IMC's cable access program in Cambridge.
26 Nov 2001
I actually did mention the October 14 demo (this is what you refer to?) in this article. It was also one of the main topics of Boston IMC's first cable access program, which aired two weeks ago on CCTV.