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News ::
James Wolfensohn Speaks @ MIT Graduation
07 Jun 2002
Modified: 10:08:53 PM
World Bank president James Wolfensohn spoke at the MIT graduation this morning, but if you weren't on the guest list, you couldn't cross Mem Drive to hear it.
World Bank president James Wolfensohn spoke at the MIT graduation this morning, but if you weren't on the guest list, you couldn't cross Mem Drive to hear it.

Proteesters from around the Boston area, including Belmont, Arlington, and Cambridge in particular gathered this morning to say "No." to Wolfensohn's presence, in hopes of delivering a wake-up call to the MIT community.

The IMF (International Monetary Fund) and World Bank have been lending out money for years to poor countries, without research into its use, and recalling it in a massive series of debts that are simply un-repayable. (Arundhati Roy covers this in much greater and more documented detail her book "The Cost of Living," about the great dam projects in India). It is not a democratic institution, and does not treat itself as such.

Protesters gathered both to let Wolfensohn know that his speech was not welcome, and to bring all this to the attention of the MIT gradutates to whom he addressed his commencement speach.

Corraled by police barricades and several loosely spaced lines of cops across Memorial Drive, roughly 50-60 protestors shouted across the roadway, demanding the World Bank (through Wolfensohn) "Drop the Debt" and that MIT students, familiars, and friends do their research before supporting.

Protests, by 11 am (when I left) were wholly non-violent. A group of approximate 10-15 people were permitted to walk across the Mass Ave Bridge, and then down across Mem Drive, where they were met by 2-3 firmly packed lines of riot cops, in full gear (including platic handcuffs). The crowds were sheilded mostly from view of the protestors by lines of cops snaking and arcing around them. That part sucked.

PS: On the way back to the Central Square Red Line T stop, my buddy and I were almost arrested and in fact "banned for life" from the MIT campus for not proceeding directly to the T stop after asking a cop if we could cut through campus. We had stopped at a cafe to put some photocopies of an article written by a graduating student on the counters.
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State Police Violated Law
07 Jun 2002
I just attended the Wolfensen protest at the MIT commencement. I
came very close to getting arrested.

State police were in clear violation of existing laws: they refused
to allow protesters, even those without placards, to cross the street
to circulate on the sidewalk in proximity to those standing in line
for the commencement. Other non-protester pedestrians were doing just
that, i.e. exercising their rights to use the sidewalks. I asked the
state cop in charge who gave this order: he said Major Stefani. I
asked who gave the order to Major Stefani, he said no one.

Well then, Major Stefani should be arrested for refusing to abide by
the law. According to both city and state laws, citizens have the
right to circulate on the sidewalks. The only exception would be an
emergency situation (i.e. a fire) or clear loitering (just standing
around), swearing, drunkenness, etc. (Section 9.09.060 Municipal
Codes). Citizens also have the right of "peaceful persuasion", "by
printing or otherwise".."unless such persuasion is accompanied by
injury or threat of injury" (Mass. General Laws, Chapter 149, Section
24). This is why, when there is a permit problem for a protest,
participants normally walk on the sidewalk, and keep moving. As long
as they don't just stand still and block pedestrians, they are not in
violation of the law.

Although I argued at length with the cop in charge, he was not
interested in the constitutional and lawful rights of the citizens.
I did go up and speak with several journalists about this, including
an AP correspondent, a French news team, and several others.

Eventually, I had to go to work, so I crossed the street (long way
around) and went to speak to several people standing in the
commencement line about the protest and the illegal police action. I
was there maybe 5 minutes when a beefy macho Aryan-looking state cop
came up and ordered me to leave. I stated I was not obliged to
leave, since I was only exercising my right to free speech. He
grabbed my bike and started to pull it away, saying "You are
disturbing these people". I said "I am not disturbing them, I am
only speaking to them." (I was NOT swearing or yelling, etc) I told
him to let go of my bike. He refused. I asked him his name. He
refused to give it to me, continuing to yank my bike toward the
street. I tried to wrestle it away from him but could not. Then when
I said I worked at MIT, he demanded to see my ID. I responded by
demanding to know his name. I did not give him my ID. Eventually I
ended up on the other side again (near the Charles River) with the
same group of protest organizers who were still discussing whether to
go leaflet the other side or not.

Right now I feel really pissed off. Pissed off that I get bullied by
an Aryan cop, that my constitutional rights were arbitrarily
rescinded to protect a World Bank bully, and the elite bullies of the
world (with kids graduating from MIT, for example), and that
protesters just accepted this behavior. Apparently the organizers had
negotiated for the right to march on the MIT side of Memorial drive,
but then this Major Stefani changed his mind. I do not like the idea
of being arrested, but I am coming to believe that we are all going
to have to start taking a MUCH stronger stand to protect our civil
rights. Or eventually, we won't even be able to voice our discontent
in the privacy of our own homes.

I have to say I do feel discouraged-- this crap this morning, and
Bush's new plan to take over the world (with "terrorism" as the
excuse to create this new dictatorship security system). Really

I would love to see the State Police sued for their behavior. At
least in the next protest, it would be good to have a civil rights
lawyer or two to accompany protesters. Although the way things are
going, the criminalization of simple acts like speaking and walking
will soon be widely accepted in the U.S. and anyone who objects to
not being able to speak freely or walk on a sidewalk will be arrested
and thrown in jail--just like what nearly happened to me this morning
Contact us about police abuses
07 Jun 2002
If you have reports of police abuse, please send them to this address. I'm just one of the folks who was there today and was in touch witht he legal observers. It's not clear if we can do anything with the reports, but it would be good to start getting them together. I'll hopefully post more soon once we've talked with the lawyers more and knowing what/if they can push forward. But people should write down their reports while their fresh in their minds, and if you can share them, that would be great.
Grads with a View
07 Jun 2002
Friday, June 7,2002

Grads with a View (please pardon my haste)


Sort of a play on Radio with a View, hosted by David Goodman and Marc Stern (glad you have a site now; have you considered geting your own domain name rather than being parked under...apart from your shows name being quite descriptive and easy to recall there's other advantages to using, etc, through or for example) and other legitimate news reporters and producers were on my mind as I made by way to the MIT campus this morning.

I was unable to meet at 7:30 a.m. at Hereford and Commonwealth Avenue but I did my best to arrive before 10:00 a.m.

I typically walk to Medford Square, from about a mile north walk from home and then take bus to Harvard Square followed by walking to Central Square and surrounding area. Today I began walking from Medford Street in Somerville and although I knew the "minor dig" (You know those "End Road Construction" signs?...) at the public walkway beneath the train tracks leading to Beacon was still ongoing I should have known better.

I'm really not trying to give you a walking tour....After walking out of my way to get back on route I finally arrived shortly after 10:00 after going through Central Square (and along Mass Ave as always expecting to see signs, not necessarily literal ones but nothing). When I arrived there were people along the roped sidewalks on Mass Ave and I went as far as I could.

(State Police or Police State? Left most or most left? I think both senses can apply and I like how WMBR make use of both. Maybe a question for Steven Pinker, etc. )

As is typically the case, using my most still quite vivid memories in comparing with the Dudley to UMASS (public space and UMASS students but...) and earlier that days march from Park Street / Tremont and about, and other more recent less intensive police (over) presence I later found the ratio of agressive appearing police to public citizens (as much as I value obejectivity I still don't discount subjectivity as I'll further note below) was maybe something like 10:1 based on quite rough estimate of upwards of 200 officers.

I didn't know the ratio to be even near to this until the body blockade relaxed. My vantage point was literally at the corner of Mass Ave and Memorial Drive on the corner nearest to where procession was heading down Mmemorial Drive. Upon arrival, no less than two minutes there I began walking towards where I heard but could not see from behind the rows of police but I was unable to go further. As I began to walk down Memorial where nothing was clearly marked other than rope along parallel to edge of sidewalk, no signs or anyone stating "this public land is now part of the police state zone". So I just stayed there and viewed the graduating students and listened as best I could to the "this is what...looks like, and I could hear most of it.

Nobody seemed to question the number and preparedness of the force or the imposed order patrol being even well beyond any form of prevention while citizens exercise assembly and free autonomous association, etc. I recall reading this before there were one or two officers who appeard to be listening far more intently than any of the people around me.

I know there to be active graduating students and current students as evident by on-going organizing, web sites, etc. and as heard on Linda P. and Chuck U.'s No Censorship Radio, WMBR's Local Edition, etc. but other than a handfull of greetings to someone those I saw knew in the crowd it was a very quiet somber procession. The only plea I heard was, "what do we want?" Sunshine! for a few times which got a smile even from one of the Police State officers who as soon as I arrived began looking directly towards me leading me who rarely questions anyone's behavior to ask if anything was wrong and he asked me, "Can I stand here?"

There was someone with an MIT Crew jacket who got a photo of the tactical team (for lack of a better descriptive term regarding their appearance) as they left their assigned public street post.

Granted I was listening intently than apparently many others but while some knew what was at issue and you would only expect they would, others were "what are they protesting?" and chuckling about it and generally more concerned with rain (and besides it has been dryer than any period I can recall here in the Boston area).

After the police blockade was loosened, no annoucement or any sort of notification that public access is allowed again. I was able to walk across and meet up with the crowd that had been on other side of me. I expected to see 50 or more people (not judging by sound just expectations) but there was about twenty. Maybe more scattered or there were more earlier this morning as reported during Dave Goodman's special radio broadcast.

Maybe that's why some local news organizations devote so much time to stating it is raining or snowing.

Recalling a Neil Young song: "It's going to take a lot of...."

James Zappia


Independent Mainstream maybe but certainly not any purple rainbows! There's enough hampering dichotmies already.
Good Cops and Bad Cops
07 Jun 2002
Just as their are "good commies" and "bad commies", naturally there are good cops and bad cops.

There are many laws forbidding bad cops from violating your Constitutional rights (and protecting terrorist groups such as the World Bank Group):

Title 18, Chapter 11, Section 201 (Bribery of public officials.)

Title 18, Chapter 11, Section 241 (Conspiracy against rights.)

Title 18, Chapter 13, Section 242 (Deprivation of rights under color of law.)

Title 18, Chapter 19, Section 373 (Solicitation to commit a crime of violence.)

Title 18, Chapter 50A, Section 1091 (Genocide.)

Title 18, Chapter 113B (Terrorism.)

Title 18, Chapter 115, Section 2381 (Treason.)

Title 18, Chapter 115, Section 2384 (Seditious conspiracy.)

Title 18, Chapter 115, Section 2385 (Advocating overthrow of government.)

If some bad cops broke any of these laws, they could end up in prison.

PS: Did the bad cop really look Indo-European? That's what an Aryan is (unless you believe NAZI propaganda).
See also: