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Copley Square march hijacked by ANSWER (english)
21 Mar 2003
Modified: 26 Mar 2003
Copley Square demo was perverted from its original purpose by ANSWER.
The purpose of the Copley Square demo was to TAKE the STREETS. Then ANSWER showed up to impose their own ideas. In case you didn't know, their sound truck and speaker lineup were not requested by the organizers. ANSWER did no work to organize the march. They just took advantage of the organizers' hard work for their own propaganda.

The strength of the march was cut in half, thanks to ANSWER. After listening to the canned speeches, about half the participants were bored into a state of submission and stayed in the square. ANSWER literally split the anti-war movement yesterday.

We don't need this kind of "help".
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21 Mar 2003
(see title)
i agree, but... (english)
21 Mar 2003
i agree that marching would have been better than being bored in copley square (although i was among those who marched down newbury street eventually), but i don't think we should get angry about this. dividing the minority (those who support peace) isn't something we want to do at this point in time. we need to stick together.
Sticking together (english)
21 Mar 2003
I'd love to "stick together". Unfortunately, for ANSWER, that seems to mean:

1) Avoid direct action
2) Take over the anti-war movement

ANSWER are Communists, and part of their ideology is imposing their will on others. Just like the govt.
ANSWER Hijacking (english)
21 Mar 2003
People spent months organizing this march from copley. We put up hundreds of flyers and put alot of effort into getting the word around for this march. ANSWER made no effort to contact the organizers of this march, they simply showed up with their own agenda and a fucking truck. Then they refused to allow the organizers of the rally to use the soundsystem to make any announcements. And on top of that they refused to stop the speakers so we could get a march started and instead attempted to shout us down using their soundsystem.

This group (ANSWER) is bringing more factioning and internal conflict to these marches and demos than any single group. They are doing the job of the FBI or any other organization trying to break up apart.

So here is histroy repeating itself, the commies are trying to sell out everything the anti-authoritarians have worked to build.
Here, here!! (english)
21 Mar 2003
I agree compleatly.

by the way ANSWER is FBI

together for peace
get alife (english)
21 Mar 2003
It must be nice to not have a job or any real responsibilities. While you're "taking the streets," what about people who just want to get home to their families after working all day? What if ambulances and fire trucks cannot respond to an emergency because you idiots are causing huge traffic jams? Someday you or someone you love may need help from the very police officers you despise for no reason. What if help can't get to you because a bunch of selfish idiots are too arrogant to allow people to do their jobs? Have you people ever thought about that?
joe, sounds like you got a chip somewhere... (english)
21 Mar 2003
the idea of these demonstrations is to send the message to the assholes dismantling what's left of this democracy, that we are prepared to shut down entire city centers, so that business as usual cannot continue. there will be some problems with emergencies and such, but i suspect there are cop contingency plans for this (like detours- not that difficult), and i have yet to see protesters deny an ambulance the right of way. after all, we are on the side that wants to preserve life, not destroy it.

but aside from such a situation, it seems more than justified, even necessary, to throw a wrench in the works of this goddamn system. after all, the 'people who just want to get home after a hard day's work,' especially folks heading home from the financial district, are often people who have no problems profiting from this type of transparent imperialist outrage.

why don't you have equal concern for the iraqis who 'just want to stay alive, but are being suffocated by sanctions, and brutalized by a dictator who was propped up and armed by your government, and now blown to bits because they happen to live in the wrong neighborhood, all at the cost of your community's health, education, and welfare? doesn't it seem a bit trivial to complain about being forced to take the subway for once or walking for a bit instead of driving home?

their smug smiles of arrogance, and earnest pleas to 'support our troops ,' with whose lives they are prepared to gamble, can not be allowed to go on without being challenged, joe. and if you have any sense of decency, you will join us at the next demo against this war. we aren't all rabid commies or spoilt college richkids or cop-hatin jobless purple-haired punks... we're everybody. construction workers, grandmas, parents of prisoners, immigrant single mothers, stockbrokers, veterans... this isn't something you can just dismiss- all these folks don't just come out like this, in america where there are so many attractions and distractions to stop them. it's something that the broader society needs to try and understand, because it's real, and it's not going away.
Something to think about (english)
21 Mar 2003
You dismiss the problem of emergency vehicles stuck in traffic jams pretty cavalierly. If you block major streets to shut down the city, no traffic is going to move anywhere. It won't matter if protestors allow an ambulance through; the ambulance will be stuck in a traffic jam blocks away from where the protestors are. Emergency workers in a big city like Boston have their hands full as it is on a normal day of car accidents and medical emergencies. These days there is also the very real threat of a terrorist incident calling for a massive, rapid response. Who is going to take responsibility if EMT's and fire fighters can't get to a scene quickly enough and someone dies? There are no "cop contingency plans" when the whole city is gridlocked. These tactics of "taking over the streets" are dangerous, and alienting people who may otherwise be sympathetic to your message.
Punks have jobs too (english)
22 Mar 2003
Just for the record i am a cop-hating black-haired punk with a full time job. In fact, i went to straight to the rally from my work. Why would you think that just because people speak theirs minds and protest that they don't have jobs or responsibilities. That's an absurd assumption.
ANSWER ... AGAIN! (english)
22 Mar 2003
So that's what happened! I was so confused .... I showed up at Copley for the march and then the ANSWER people showed up with that damned truck and people just stood there, no march, nothing. I started asking people around the truck if we were going to march and they said no, then one of them pointed toward the other side where the black block was and said to the cop beside her "you have to keep an eye on them" and then the cop nodded and took off across the park towards the block.(I later found out that the cops surrounded the block as they were peacefully standing in the park and then started pushing them and pulling at their clothes as they were going into the street to march!)

I actually knew alot of the people who had done the outreach work for the march in Copley even though I wasn't really involved in the planning or anything personally, so I was really surprised to see ANSWER there acting like they owned the place ...... and even worse I knew for a fact that soem of my firends who had planned the Copley march and who had put up lots of flyers for it and stuff were IN the black block last night! So not only were the answer people hijacking the Copley event that people put so much time and effort into they were trying to get the cops to harass the people who had actually done all the work for the event. That's so fucked up and so wrong and I feel so mad about it but I don't know what to do. It seems like answer is trying to deliberately split the anti-war movements or soemthing .....

what I can't figure out is where did answer come from anyway?!?!?! I know that the UJP event and the Copley event had been planned for months and months ... like since last october! .... and answer never had any part in them and then all of a sudden answer shows up and hijacks these events that people have spent months of their lives trying to make successful?!?! That's just fucked up!

obviously, answer is completely untrustworthy. I've had people try and tell me that before about stuff they did in other cities and stuff but I always said "we've got to stick together to stop this war" but after what I saw last night, I'll never be able to work with answer again! It was almost like they were intentionally sabotaging the event and if it hadn't have been for the drummers and the block marching off by themselves there wouldn't have been any march at all! I'm really wondering now if all those things that people say about answer in other cities is true, cause what they did last night was the lowest of the low. what really bothers me, though, is that they HAD to have known that hijacking the event was going to make the organizers of the other events VERY upset (one of my friends who put alot of time into this was so mad she was crying cause the answer truck was blaring away on their microphone and then she told them that she was trying to get the march started and could they please either let her have time on their soundsystem or else just be quiet for a miunte while she could get the march started. the answer people told her they wouldn't do either and kept right on screaming speeched on their huge sound system!! and if they knew that these other organizers were going to get upset, then i've gotta assume that they must have doen it on purpose. Now why would anybody do such a thing if they weren't really trying to split the movement? I don't see any good answers to that question, honestly, so maybe that person above is right about them being FBI or something, cause nobody who really wanted everybody to work together would betray another group who had worked so hard to organize an anti-war event!

something is very wrong people! we need to figure out what it is and how to fix it before the answer people split the anti-war groups in Boston! i would personally like to hear from other people who saw what happened last night. what I saw was really bad, but soem people up above said that answer was doing bad stuff too, so we probably need soem more voices to figure out what all they were up to and to figure out how to stop them from dividing us like they did last night .... we had four thousand people there in copley and only a very few marched BECAUSE OF ANSWER and that's VERY VERY wrong and bad! We've gotta stand together if we're gonna stop this war but we can't do it if answer is stabbing everybody in the back all the time!

What will happen then? (english)
22 Mar 2003
Modified: 28 Mar 2003
I saw on the news last night many Iraqi citizens elated in the presence of U.S. military in their towns. Iraqis were laughing and dancing and ripping down posters of Saddam. When will you recognize Saddam has killed more Iraqis than George Bush ever will, along with Kuwaitis and Iranians? Saddam is a greater threat to Iraqis then George Bush or our military. Would you have been protesting U.S military action in Europe in the 1940's? What are you going to do when the war is over, and we see Iraqis in Baghdad celebrating, welcoming U.S troops and thanking them for finally eliminating Saddam? What if these events really come to pass? Would you have the decency to admit maybe we did the right thing by taking Saddam and his cronies out of power?
Just Remember (english)
22 Mar 2003
just keep in mind that answer isn't a communist(trotskyist) group, they are a stalinist one and they are very fucked up. they support the right wing AFL-CIO and also stalinist gangsters like north korea.
ANSWER, trucks, and takeovers (english)
23 Mar 2003
Modified: 08:41:18 PM
It's obvious that whatever ANSWER is out to do, whatever motivates them and whomever supports them, they were only capable of co-opting the Copley March the other day through superior resources and infrastructure.

The sad fact is that most activist groups don't have the resources to get together a pickup truck with a stage and a soundsystem on it. There's some advantage to top-down infrastructure.

If we want to deal with ANSWER effectively, then we need to be more effective in our own marches. The other groups need to organize and unite - combine resources, and get organized. Not to a scary top-down degree, but enough to equalize things a little.

If we'd also had a truck and a soundstage at Copley, we could've carried on the march. The thing is - being new to all this, I didn't know that ANSWER wasn't in charge of the march. When they started speaking I, like a lot of other people, assumed they had authority - and foolishly, I followed my first instinct and listened to the man with the biggest soundsystem. A lot of my friends fragmented and splintered off from the march out of boredom. It was all very anti-climactic.

If we had a truck, we could do our thing. We could maintain the march. I'm sure people would rather march with the truck that was moving than stand around with the truck that stands still.
Who needs a sound system? (english)
23 Mar 2003
I bet there are others who could have got a sound system if it was a top priority for the envisioned event. Sometimes it is beautiful not to have a centralized focus in an event, but to have it be a more organic and decentralized thing. Just a thought. Maybe this desire for a centralized sound system stems from a centralization oriented mode of thinking.
it's not just about pa's and trucks (english)
24 Mar 2003
even if we (i.e. non-answer people of the anti-war mov't) had a truck and a huge p.a. we couldn't have pulled it off... just think about it... we don't have that sort of relationship with the powers that be or the cops...

ujp or the anarchists who called for the march, even if they had gotten a permit for the march would have NEVER been allowed a truck with such a huge p.a. by the cops or the city... and yet ANSWER who HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE PLANNING of the event shows up with a huge truck and a huge p.a. and is able to completely disrupt the event without being harrassed or stopped by the cops... could we have done that? no, we would have been arrested because we didn't have a permit... as a matter of fact the cops actually accomodated to ANSWER's needs...

what am i saying? i don't think that answer is in bed with the cops... i KNOW they are in bed with the cops... it's only natural... the state wants to control the mov't so they use a front group like ANSWER of the worker's world party to keep the mov't quiet and harmless... and then you have idiots like joe supporting their actions... they are succesful at it... it's basic COINTELPRO type mentality and tactics... we must not bow down to authoritarians in the anti-war movement... they represent what we are fighting against right now...

by the way the fact that ANSWER is communist does not mean jack shit... i am a communist, an anarcho-communist at that... ANSWER are a bunch of stalinists fucks engaged in parliamentary politics... and as much as they'd like to claim it, they are not "the leadership of the anti-war movement" as i heard coming from their truck... it is the people and the grassroots...

ANSWER watch your back... and your face...
contacting answer (english)
24 Mar 2003
i have already emailed ANSWER about their role in the 630 copley square episode. i encourage all of you to do as well:
answerboston (at)
they need to know htat they fucked up.
Debate (english)
24 Mar 2003
I think that it would be interesting to hear different
sides of this debate. So far on this list, we have only
heard the anti ANSWER side. I am not saying that these
arguments are not justified, just that they haven't been
balanced in any way by other arguments.

Here are some thoughts from the Govt Center / Copley
episodes from my point of view

- it seemed very clear that the crowd mostly wanted
action (as in marching) rather than listening to speeches.
For a while, I was afraid we were never going to get moving
to Copley and just stay stuck in Govt Center.

-On the other hand, some people were happily listening
to the speeches, both in Govt Center and Copley. It was
certainly refreshing to hear hispanic/Latin American
perspectives on the not-so-new US military empire. This
link is often lacking in people's minds and in people's
signs and statements/leaflets.

-The marching was accompanied by police presence. However,
Boston police are usually pretty reasonable (and don't yall
start howling now). If a march is unpermitted, but it has
a couple of thousand people, they generally understand that
the best way to deal with it is to let people march, and
avoid confrontations and lockdowns. In contrast, Cambridge
police deals with such problems by throwing tantrums and
not letting people through, which of course makes for bigger
traffic messes.

- There seemed to be different groups within the
demonstration (and I'm not talking about the "leaders" of
the different factions, just groups of people).
1. the majority wanted to be marching and chanting
2. some were happy listening intently to the speakers
3. some wanted to do something more radical, eg take over
the turnpike
4. some were in the black block

- the most interesting thing for me was that group 3. was
in part able to coordinate throughout the crowd _because_
the black block were recieving so much police attention.
However, the majority of the people who started marching
down Newbury did not know about the ultimate destination
(eg the turnpike). When it became clear that the group at
the front was intent on taking over the turnpike, a lot of
people became confused and upset, and expressed their
feeling of just wanting to march.

- this might seem like a stretch for some of you, but
consider the similarity between the group trying to turn
the march into civil disobedience and ANSWER trying to turn
the demonstration into a lecture series from their truck PA.
In both cases, these groups take advantage of a large
gathering of people, not necessarily politically aligned
with them, and try to use their presence for their
political purpose. In both cases, the larger group of people
is not consulted about the various options, and is just
taken along for a ride, until they get tired of listening
to ANSWER speakers, or they realize they're being led into
arrestable CD situations with no warning.

- I am very interested in hearing different people's
perspectives on this. I think it is very important for us
to be honest about our demonstrations, alliances, and
organizing. I have no problem with tons of speakers, or
civil disobedience: as long as everyone present knows what
they are getting into. Taking advantage of people's ignorance
or newness is very uncool, it's a form of disrespect that
will prevent them from coming to other demonstrations.

A proposal: if some group wants to educate people about the
political ramifications of this war by a lecture series,
fine, organize it and advertize it, but don't try to turn
a demonstration into a lecture series.
If another group wants to do CD, that's also great, but again
recruit and organize seperately from a big demonstration with
possibly elderly, immigrant, or sick people who cannot afford
to be arrested. You can't count on other people's street smarts
to keep them out of trouble and absolve you of responsibility if
you suddently bring the wrath of the police down on an initially
vanilla protest.
it's really too bad (english)
24 Mar 2003
it's too bad that answer didn't follow the march from copley. I'm really disappointed.

as an organization answer has been very successful at organizing large scale national mobilizations but seems to have alienated many boston activists. i hope they take this criticism to heart and correct their mistakes. i know there are many good people working in answer and the ones i know have the best intentions, but they had no right to split the march like they did.
Anarchists envy communist organization? (english)
25 Mar 2003
This is simply pathetic red baiting. The WWP has the organizational capabilities to promote the movement through ANSWER and all you can do is whine about. The fact is that ANSWER while run largely by WWP members is not in itself promoting WWP or any other Marxist-Leninist ideology, it is searving mearly as an anti-war, anti-imperialist, and occassonally anti-globilization protesting group. UJP is similarly run largely by CPUSA members, NION is run largely by RCP members, but the only people you see promoting ideological positions are the Anarchists who actually confuse anti-war demonstrations with pro-anarchy demos. This sort of petty, obnoxious reaction against the WWP (the CPUSA and RCP, being less effective seem to be more often ignored) undermines the anti-war movement by injecting sectarianism; anarchists spend more time trying to undermine communist anti-imperialists then the capitalist imperialists they claim to oppose.

It would be out of the question for a communist to post a message against the NEFAC for leading and organizing a break away march, (despite the fact that the NEFAC and not the WWP was promoting its own ideology in the signs and symbolism it brought to the last Boston protest) because they are also anti-imperialists against the war, but it is somehow acceptable for anarchists to protest other anti-war demonstraters for issues of ideology.

And to think people accuse the reds of being sectarian.
Why single us out? (english)
25 Mar 2003
I know Stalinists excel at revisionism, but this is a little bit much. Cutting through the bullshit, let's make a few things clear...

NEFAC did not organize a "breakaway" march. We were one organization participating in a larger coalition of Boston-based anti-authoritarian groups and individuals (including BAAM and Queer Resistance) which organized this march months in advance. It was ANSWER that showed up unannounced and attempted to highjack the event (did you happen to notice all the people leaving once your group set up a sound system and started in on your usual series of tired and predictable barrage of rhetoric?).

Also, what is wrong with distributing literature with our own analysis and banners that represent our politics. Contrary to the underhanded methods of groups like the Workers World Party, I consider it to be very principled to be up front about your politics. You'd be surprised how far honesty goes with some people. You should try it sometime!
See also:
Half? (english)
25 Mar 2003
The original post says that Answer cut the march in half but I don't think that's really true. the papers said we had 4,000 in copley after the two groups converged and about half of those were from ujp and half from the copley thing. So that means that the eventual march ... which was something like a couple hundred people ... was only 1/10 the size of the original copley turn-out, even if you assume that NOBODY from the ujp march was going to march which isn't true, so it was probably 1/20 of the size of the people who had planned on marching. That's the reality of what Answer did at Copley ... they cut our force by at least 90%!

If Answer didn't exist, the FBI would have to create them to keep the anti-war folks divided and at each others throats. we need to figure out what to do about answer so they can't do this to local organizers again and then move on stronger and more unified as a community.

So what do we do about them and how do we stop them from doing this again?
organizing model? (english)
25 Mar 2003
First off, I would like to congratulate and thank all of the people who put their hard work and time into advertising the 6:30 Copley Demo.

However, I'm a little upset by some of the things that are being said here.

The demonstration, as advertised, called for a "diversity of tactics." ANSWER, apparently, brought the tactic of making public speeches, and this has been roundly denounced. This leads me to believe that when the flier said "diversity of tactics" that this was in fact codewords for "you might get arrested", and in fact, the nameless coalition, or at least members of it, had specific tactics in mind to use or not use.

So let me ask the ad hoc coalition which advertised the event: what tactics did you have in mind? Did you have in mind a plan or decision-making process that would end in the numerous attendees taking that action? If you did not have such a plan, then rather than denouncing ANSWER, why not craft a plan for next time?

It doesn't have to be a truck and a sound stage. It could be a crew of drummers (people like following them). It doesn't have to be a march route, or any pre-designed plan. It could be a spokescouncil, or something more informal. But whatever it is, when I attend a rally, if the rally's advertisers didn't in fact organize the rally itself, then I don't think they should complain when ANSWER did exactly what they advertised: showed up and rallied against the war.
Diversity of Tactics? (english)
25 Mar 2003
ANSWER will get a taste of my tactical diversity the next time they want to try this shit. Watch your asses Stalinists.
International Response (english)
26 Mar 2003
For background on ANSWER's connection with WWP (who supported the Tienanmen Square massacre), and some good articles on whether to support ANSWER demos or not, check out:


For all that good stuff and more,
M. J.