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News :: Human Rights
Anti-War Signs Censored at Voting Rights March
31 Oct 2005
Modified: 08:32:10 AM
At Sunday's "Retracing the Struggle---The Legacy of the Voting Rights Act of 1965" kickoff rally in Boston, Sunday, march orgsnizer's security asked me and another person the put down our anti-war signs as John Kerry was speaking.
mlk sign.jpg
ANTI-WAR SIGNS CENSORED AT VOTING RIGHTS MARCH
alex arredondo.jpg
ANTI-WAR SIGNS CENSORED AT VOTING RIGHTS MARCH
Yesterday was the "Retracing the Struggle" rally and march in Boston. Its intent was to recreate an historic march in Boston in 1965 that Martin Luther King led, in an effort to get the Voting Rights Act passed .Overall, this was a strong and positive event, with a racially diverse crowd of I 'd say about 5000 people. The speakers ranged fronm Congressman John Lewis to State Rep. Gloria Fox to the minister who was the original organizer of the 1965 march.After a rally people marched from First Church in Roxbury to Boston Common.
However, there were some opportunistic politicians there such as Mayor Menino and Sen. John Kerry who it seems were using the event for there own self-promotion. When John Kerry spoke, I held up a sign I made that read
" Martin Luther King's Word On Non-Violence--
Stop the War on Iraq--Now !!" I was then asked by march security to put down my sign for the sake of keeping the rally"nonpartisan". I told the security person that Dr. King died for being anti-war and that my sign was in keeping with the spirit of the rally. As not to cause any disruption, I put my sign down. The same security person then moved up to the front of the crowd and asked Carlos Arredondo , whose son Alex was killed in Iraq, to stop holding up a picture of his son in marine uniform along with a pair of empty combat boots in full view of Kerry. After several minutes of argument with security, Carlos put his sign down and left the front of the crowd.
As I held my anti-war sign during the day, the majority of the people at the march gave me uncomfortable looks. I told people that King was criticized by liberals during the latter part of his life for making the connection of opposing the Vietnam war and civil rights at home. Basically, one of the reasons the US government killed King was because he was anti-war.
I can not understand why my sign and Carlos' signs were censored at a rally to honor dissent and civil rights--the only reason I can see was march security wanted to shield John Kerry from anti-war protest. Of course, Kerry voted for the war and even today doesnt want to pull out US troops immediately(his weak stand on the war, not promising to end the war, cost him the presidency).
Despite being censored, I still feel the march was a positive thing. there were a lot of radical, right-on speakers and performers, including the Foundation and 2 really fantastic young women political rappers called "Reflect and Strengthen". Posted here are photos of the signs that were censored yesterday.

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Re: Anti-War Signs Censored at Voting Rights March
31 Oct 2005
Good work Mike!We should have had a large group of protesters there.We missed a great oppurtunity to protest against the warmongers and hypocrits who dare to expoit MLK's legacy for their poltical power. To bad there were only 2 protesters there in a crowd of 5 thousand.The anti-war rally couldn't even get that many people.Shame on Chuck Turner for boycotting the anti-war rally and going to this sad farce.The Democrats have the money and power.Has Chuck Turner sold out?
Re: Anti-War Signs Censored at Voting Rights March
31 Oct 2005
Did Chuck turner *boycott* the anti-war rally?
Re: Anti-War Signs Censored at Voting Rights March
31 Oct 2005
This was an extremely-controlled event.
McTrough the MBTA Police Crime Pig (External Investigations Officer) was instructed to remove his mask when he got within 50 feet of the band stand.

They got what they wanted ...a sanitized march devoid of anything but a ghost of King's attitude and experience. I say the movement lives today, and that these guys are very compliant to the system's will, concerned, over all, with their media image and containing little in it's platform beyond advocating voter registration, and playing the Demopublikkkan misdirection game.

With this march, they're playing to the corporate media, something that was only a part of King's campaign. This march and the two rallies, and our roles in it, as comrades as well as outsiders, should be studied carefully. Is it up to the organizers of a rally to determine its tone, and how far should they go to control issues of decorum? Borkie, here's a couple photos of you at the bandstand, with sign. Please post them!

And if you'd like to see the MBTA Crime Pig who was recently interviewed by a CBS news affiliate (They loved his zany dancing!) go to: freemanz.com/fzdc/political/05_10_01/

And look for a web movie including the dancing crime pig, to be posted on indymedia soon!

And, Dear Borkerz, what did Chuck say when he spoke?
Re: Anti-War Signs Censored at Voting Rights March
31 Oct 2005
I'm glad that people tried to bring an anti-war message to this event in the sirit of Dr. King, and it sucks that they were told to keep it down. I also think that the event was pretty unclear on its real message--was it just a commemoration of of past struggles or an engagement with current ones? That was never made clear.

At the wsame time, I think that protesting the event, as Dave Cutler suggested, would have been a huge mistake. To protest an event commemorating the civil rights movement, with veterans of that movement there and many others who know people who fought and suffered in the struggle, would have been taken as a huge slap at the Black freedom struggle. Regardless of how you intended a protest to go, that would have been the interpretation. While hypocritical opportunists like Kerry may have been there, they did not organize this event.

It sounds to me like what Mike and Carlos were doing was not protesting the event, but participating in it with a more radical message. That's important to do. But what Dave Cutler suggests when he says, "We should have had a large group of protesters there." I hope that I'm misinterpreting him.
Re: Anti-War Signs Censored at Voting Rights March
31 Oct 2005
Steve I. sent this to me on his list. Thanks Mike for standing up for what was correct.
Having put together an MLK radio special earlier this year, I was a bit surprised at how specific MLK was about love, war, peace, and yeah, Christ. To gloss over that to not embarrass shameful politicians like Kerry and Menino is a travesty. Kerry's votes on the war were shameful - especially when all of us normal folks without access to supposed intelligence - knew it was a joke.
Somewhere, MLK, and Rosa Parks, are spinning in their graves!

http://politizine.blogspot.com
Damn!
31 Oct 2005
I knew that this march was totally in the control of the Democrats but I didn't think that it would be THAT bad....they made Carlos Arredondo take down his sign?!

That is wack central.....if I had known that it was going to be like that I would have gone down with a sign or two.

Oh yea
Re: Anti-War Signs Censored at Voting Rights March
01 Nov 2005
The organisers' page on the march is:
http://www.mfh.org/retracingthestruggle/march.html
I do quote:

"On October 30 at 1:00, Congressman John Lewis of Georgia will lead a commemorative march from the First Church in Roxbury to Boston Common, where more than 5,000 people are expected to participate in an effort to better understand the struggle for civil rights. The Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities and a consortium of civil rights and race relations organizations are organizing this important commemoration with support from Boston-area foundations and businesses.

In March 1965, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led the historic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama to protest voting restrictions for blacks. Five months later, Congress passed the historic Voting Rights Act of 1965 enforcing the right granted to all Americans by the 15th Amendment to the Constitution.

In April of 1965, Dr. King led marchers on a three-mile walk from Roxbury to a rally at Boston Common to protest de facto school segregation in Boston. In June, the state legislature passed The Racial Imbalance Act outlawing "racially imbalanced" schools.

Show your committment to the fight for civil rights and the importance of political engagement by walking with us from Roxbury to Boston Common on October 30th. Register to participate below."

From their FAQ, I quote:
"All citizens and non-citizens who are involved or concerned (or want to learn!) about the right to vote in the United States, every person who wants to honor the legacy of Dr. King, those who wish to make a statement about democracy in this country – YOU!"

There's no mention of restrictions, or the tone.

After reading this, I'm outright offended at the arbitrary and unannounced hushing, clearly in contradiction, not only of their stated goals, but of the legacy of Dr. King, and of Mr. Arredondo, Michale Borkson, and others.

Freeman Z
Re: Anti-War Signs Censored at Voting Rights March
01 Nov 2005
Hi, Michael and FreemanZ

Look where people are denouncing Chuck Turner (who said some pretty fearless and amazing things at the rally), and look where people are focusing on the March security but forgetting about 5000 marchers who have their own ideas.

We should think twice before leaping to negative judgements of this racially integrated political event in Boston with 5000 people, commemorating one action in a liberation struggle against straight-out racism and segregation that continues today.

I was at both events, the antiwar march and the Voting Rights march.
Re: Anti-War Signs Censored at Voting Rights March
01 Nov 2005
John, What 5,000 people?
That number is based on the press material published before the march, not on a count of the attendees, though they did require registration, I believe, so should have a good count. I'd guess 1,500-2,000, tops. Not as important as the message, but who wasn't there?

Where was Tony Van Der Meer, who was involved in a real struggle over preserving the King legacy when he intervened as a student, Tony Naro (I spoke with him today,) was attacked by a recruiter? Where was Brother R.A., banned from MIT radio? Boycotting the march? I had a hard time getting this on the air roster with Kerry involved at all.

We are going to air the recordings of the speeches after the march on WZBC this weekend, probably without comment. This is a discussion forum, and I'm discussin.' That's all. Note that I am serving my role as a documentarian, and one who's been victimized by MBTA police, framed for wiretapping. My crime pig actor was instructed to remove his mask near the stage.

This is not solidarity, is corporate press-whoreing.
The corporate media won't play the speeches in their entirety. They will frame and explain the content. That's what they do. Despite my angry criticism, I will participate in the anarchic activity of bringing these speeches to the air in their entirety. I think that's a respectful act. Telling Arredondo to stifle his story of his dead son for the Kerry press agent's satisfaction is entirely inappropriate.

So who's got the love? The censors who kiss Dem butt and push around a grieving father while denying the true MLK spirit, or the reporter who works for free to broadcast uncut speeches? I gots da love, baby!

Michael, was yer sign censored from the march, from the rally, or just during Kerry's time, and did you only raise your sign for the Kerry portion?

I spoke with Councilor Turner shortly before he left the post-rally ...early. He seemed disappointed with the whitewashing, but told me he gave his standard speech, which I know well, as I've recorded Chuck more than I can count.

Thanks to all for talkin it out. -FZ
Re: Anti-War Signs Censored at Voting Rights March
02 Nov 2005
freeman---i talked to chuck turner at the end of the rally, too and he was supportive of my sign. i did like chuck's speech, it was good. my sign was only censored when i held it up during kerry's speech--it wasnt censored before when i held it up briefly nor was it censored on the march itself.
clearly--the censorship was to shield kerry from the anti-war message, but im fairly sure kerry did see my sign along with carlos arredondo's sign before we had to remove them. note--i will be on linda pinkow's show this sunday on WMBR 88.1
at 11:30am discussing this incident--please tune-in.
Borkson's Lame Attempt to Hijack the Black March
02 Nov 2005
Borkson clearly stated that he went to this event to hustle for the anti-war crowd. He also stated plainly that Carlos strategically placed himself in FRONT of the march with an anti-war placard.

Borkson said the people gave him uncomfortable looks. MAYBE they smelled a lamer hijacking their event.

Borkson makes evident in his story that he carried the placard SIMPLY to instigate a debate on his line of reasoning for hijacking the event, namely a lame-ass and weak connection of MLK to socialist theory. His reasoning is twisted and opportunist.

Borkson basically lies when he tries to say the event was to "honor dissent." That is a rank and racist reduction of the civil rights movement and shows he is literally out of touch with it's significance. His claim to have discovered a contradiction is cheap theater.

To then cast the event as a conspiracy to protect John Kerry just makes me think he is a Sparticist trying to provoke stupid backlash.
Re: Anti-War Signs Censored at Voting Rights March
02 Nov 2005
to redondo--its clear borkson was fair in his view of the march calling it overall a good and positive event--you are obviously not reading carefully what he wrote. he clearly didnt go to instigate anything, only to connect the civil rights struggle with the anti-war movement which is exactly what martin luther king did and was criticized for during his life.borkson clearly was only criticizing the rally security, not the overall theme or intent of the rally and march. the fact that both borkson and carlos put their signs down when asked show they werent there to insigate trouble. redondo--please re-read the posting in a fair-minded view.
fair?
02 Nov 2005
Of course he still called it an overall good event. Do you think some white kid is going to say a bunch of black people commemorating the civil rights era were a bunch of jerks for not allowing him to upstage them?

Borkson has to cut a thin line between being a parasite of the event and alienating sympathizers.
Re: Anti-War Signs Censored at Voting Rights March
03 Nov 2005
There was a number of poorly planned aspects to this event. People were told they coudn't collect signatures for ballot initiatives at the church before the march (we did anyway with no problems) The sound system was useless so people couldn't hear a damn thing. Of course the march didn't start on time(2:45PM) But I was moved and enjoyed singing all the way to the Commons. A spirit of unity and peace was in the air. Let's remember we (the Left) are on the same side even if some of us are walking too slow for others. At least we're walking forward and not backward with our eyes closed like the Right.
Pro-Palestinian speech spoils civil rights march
06 Nov 2005
Pro-Palestinian speech spoils civil rights march

http://www.thejewishadvocate.com/this_weeks_issue/news/?content_id=472
By Shayndi Raice - Friday November 4 2005

City Councilor Chuck Turner

City councilor Chuck Turner goes on record to badmouth Israel

BOSTON – Hundreds of Jews who attended a civil rights march on Oct. 30 were insulted when a local politician denounced American aid to Israel, referring to the Palestinians as “prisoners of war.” The march was organized to support the Voting Rights Act and commemorate the 1965 march in Selma, Ala., which was led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The civil rights gathering led to President Johnson passing the Voting Rights Act, which will expire in 2007.
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Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner addressed the audience, stating that the United States government was focusing too much of its efforts on militarism, including spending money on aid to Israel. “Our Palestinian brothers and sisters are essentially prisoners of war,” he said.
The Anti-Defamation League was among the sponsors of the march. Andrew Tarsy, director of the ADL’s New England region, called Turner’s statements “problematic.” He told the Advocate: “There was no reason to bring that into today’s conversation. It was not unexpected, because his views are well-known, but I certainly regret that he did it today.” Tarsy said he plans on speaking with Turner about his statements.
Richard Glovsky, education director for the ADL, echoed Tarsy’s desire to follow up with Turner. “I fear that he hasn’t had enough exposure to events in the Middle East,” the attorney said. “We need to have a meeting with him, because the greatest antidote to prejudice is education.”
To many Jews in attendance, Turner’s comments seemed to be an ironic twist in a day that was supposed to be dedicated to a renewed commitment to end prejudice and bigotry. “The focus should be on voting rights in America for all Americans,” said Robert Trestan, ADL civil rights director. “His comments are misplaced. It was unfortunate that he didn’t have anything positive to say about the reauthorization of the voting rights act.”
But Turner’s comments did not mar the day for all the Jewish participants. Flori Schwartz of Swampscott said that although she disagreed with Turner’s comments and felt they were misplaced, “I take it as a small piece. I’m more focused on the positive aspects of the day.”
Participants marched from First Church in Roxbury to Boston Common. At a pre-march rally, participants were addressed by Sen. John Kerry, Rep. Byron Rushing and Mayor Thomas Menino. It was led by Congressman John Lewis, who led the original march with King in 1965. Later that year, King and Lewis also led a march in Boston against de facto segregation in public schools.
While Turner strayed from the day’s focus, Kerry and other speakers stressed the importance of renewing the Voting Rights Act and ensuring the right of every American to vote. “The journey is incomplete,” Kerry said. “Forty years after the Voting Rights Act, we are still living in a nation where citizens are harassed and even denied the right to vote.”
In an address to the audience, Tarsy recalled that Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, a prominent leader of American Jewry, marched in 1965, arm-in-arm with King: “Heschel was a visionary in calling the Jewish people to action, and that is a call that we still answer today.”
Many speakers stressed the need for the next generation to get involved in civil rights, and viewed the march as a history lesson. “Young people should pick up the torch to move forward and lead on,” said David Harris of Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, the organizer of the march.
Jews of all ages were responding to the call. “It is important to commemorate this hugely important march and act and emphasize that civil rights are still an issue,” said Gavi Bogen-Farber, 23, a fellow for the Jewish Organizing Initiative who helped mobilize the Jewish community to join the march. “You see footage of kids protesting [at Selma], and then you think of young people now, and there isn’t that same passion.”
Re: Anti-War Signs Censored at Voting Rights March
11 Nov 2005
I hope that the security person was mis-informed about this not being a partisan demonstration. Dunk-The-Vote is an obstensibly non-partisan get-out-the-vote organization and therefore suposed to be netral with respect to the upcoming mayoral and city council races. (Such organizations may offer positions on isues but may not endorse back OR FAVOR particular candidates in an upcomming election) Examination of the press coverage shows one not both mayorial candidates, two at large city council candidates not all eight and two incumbant district city councelors with none of their oponients are to be seen. Both Reverend William Dickerson and Ron Bell have enjoyed being in the employ of the present administrtion and although their present employ are separate from the city, their respective orginizations are showered with blessings from the city long as they behave.