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News ::
Personal Account of the Boston Rally and March on M22. (english)
23 Mar 2003
Modified: 11:35:45 PM
A Rally of 500 or more marched in a spontaneous unpermitted march from park Street to harvard square, holding sit-ins at points along the way, while being harassed by pro-war groups, some individuals and supported by many onlookers.
Personal Account of the Boston Rally and March on March 22.

A Rally of 500 or more marched in a spontaneous unpermitted march from park Street to harvard square, holding sit-ins at points along the way, while being harassed by pro-war groups, some individuals and supported by many onlookers.

Yesterday I joined a rally at Park Street Station organized by the committee for peace and Human rights, (as reported in the city section of the Globe today, 3.23) which has been holding vigils here for years to protest sanctions against Irag. Several speakers addressed the crowd with powerful and passionate expressions of outrage at the war in progress. One speaker was interviewed by NECN and NPR. Pro war agitators who were clearly there to intimidate and harass the anti-war rally, one of them tried to approach the speakers stand (I assume) to take over the mic. Several organizers stepped forward to block him. A heated discussion ensued and then several Boston police came into scene. I heard him (the pro-war guy) say something like "our side is not being heard" and the crowd yelled back "Its in the Media" After a time he left but not before FOX News stepped in to interview him in the middle of our demo. Everyone began chanting "Shame on FOX" and I was yelling "Send FOX Home". This pro-war group continued to follow us and harass protesters from the side of the road throughout the entire day.

Fast forward: In Cambridge a line of bikers on Choppers joined the pro-war group "revving" thier engines to deafening levels as were passed by. Along the Mass Ave they also got ahead of our march where the police at the front of the march kept them separated from us.

At 2PM our small demo of about (500?) began a march down Tremont to Boylston street in Copley Square. Despite our small numbers, it was a very passionate and vigorous march. There were many people out on the streets going about their afternoon activities who seemed completely taken by surprise to see our march moving through the streets.

Once we arrived at Copley we were stopped by Boston Police midway on Bolyston Street just before the square. At that point we all sat down in the street and began loudly chanting as, residents, shoppers, tourists, and people in cafes in such looked on. This continued for 20 minutes or more. Although I was too far away to see what was being discussed I believe the organizer leading the march was able to make a deal with the police to let us proceed up to Mass Ave and on to Cambridge. This was a spontaneous and unpermitted march plan. And I was completely surprised that they were gong to let us march on to Harvard square. At that point I was expecting to get arrested, but it seems there were really too few police available to do a mass arrest. Maybe the Boston Police did not want to ruin a beautiful Saturday afternoon by having to drag off a couple hundred of us who were sitting down on the street.

As we marched up Mass Ave at about Newbury Street we started a new chant, as there were many shoppers on the street watching us we began chanting "NO MORE SHOPPING" "JOIN US FOR PEACE" while at the same time motioning them too leave the side walk and join the march. And later the chant "UNITED THE PEOPLE - WILL STOP THIS WAR" with "JOIN US FOR PEACE" following it.

As we reached Mass Ave it appeared the left lane had no incoming traffic having been opened up for our march. We reached the midpoint of the Mass Ave Bridge where we all sat down again and vigorously chanted. After about 20 minutes or so we rose up and marched over the bridge and up Mass Ave past MIT and onto Central Square. As we were marching many people on the streets were applauding and waving peace signs. Some shop owners and apartment dwellers came out on the street to watch us. Again we continued our chant "JOIN US FORE PEACE" This continued all the way into Harvard square. As we passed by people were lining up on the sides of the street to watch. In Harvard square we once again we sat down and occupied the street. We were lead in our chants from the front of the group by a lead chanter in a sort of call and response manner... chanting "NO ATTACK" - "ON IRAQ" this was very loud and went on for sometime. After awhile we were asked to leave the intersection or we would be arrested, more chanting continued and no one it seemed was willing to get up and leave, eventually though most of the marchers left the square and marched up towards the commons, without any arrests taking place.

Photos of the event are here at:

http://boston.indymedia.org/front.php3?article_id=12251&group=webcast


Focus on getting broader support and target the corporate pro-war media.

I felt one of the best things about the day was this "JOIN US FOR PEACE" refrain since there are many people who are for peace but who may have never joined any anti-war movement, they need to be encouraged in the face of the media barrage of patriotism propaganda. And the propaganda is working folks, tempers are high and I hear many accusations of "traitor" "Commie" and the general "Love it or Leave" it comment. These people don't realize how they are being duped and manipulated, for those in this camp who have may still have an open mind they need to be persuaded without being alienated while the corporate media becomes increasingly negative towards the anti-war movement.

As well we need to hold the corporate media accountable for their gross pro-war reporting and sins of omission. In my mind they are complicit and a partner to war. Direct actions on CNN, FOX and key Advertising agencies (Leo Burnett) are in order.

As reported on Chicago Indymedia, ClearChannels involvement in sponsoring pro-war rallies smacks of manufactured news:

http://chicago.indymedia.org/front.php3?article_id=22381&group=webcast
http://chicago.indymedia.org/front.php3?article_id=22352&group=webcast
http://chicago.indymedia.org/front.php3?article_id=21731&group=webcast#f

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Additinns and corrections (english)
23 Mar 2003
Additional Comment to this point:

And the propaganda is working folks, tempers are high and I hear many accusations of "traitor" "Commie" and the general "Love it or Leave" it comment....

To illustrate this I witnessed an scene in the Davis T where a couple (seniors) denounced a few protesters getting on the train. The protesters (in their 20's) were polite in their response but the older man proclaimed he was a vet and went on usual ti-raid as to how they were (the protesters) were not loyal americans and did not value their freedom which he fought for. In disgust they would not board the same car with the protesters.
report on Saturday, M22 rally and march (english)
23 Mar 2003
On Saturday, March 22, an emergency anti-war rally was held in Boston at the Boston Common, drawing more than five hundred protesters, along with a handful of counter-protesters. The rally was organized by local Boston activists, and occured concurrently with protests all around the US, including a large ones in New York and San Francisco. The Boston protest began at 12:30 outside the Park Street MBTA stop with speeches from a variety of people, including the organizers and other activists who chose to step up to the mike. One man spoke on his experience living in Iraq under the sanctions, and derided the corporate TV media who had called him recently, looking for the "human side" of the Iraqi-US conflict after ignoring the effects of the sanctions on the people of Iraq for ten years. At one point, a pro-war protester broke into the circle of anti-war protesters and attempted to take the microphone from the person who was speaking, but he was stopped by people in the crowd and Boston police who were on hand. Food Not Bombs was also present, giving out free food to all present, even those who had no interest in the rally itself.

After an hour or so of speeches, the rally moved out onto the streets and began marching towards Copley Square down Boylston Street. Pro-war protesters made a move to block the march from leaving, but they were prevented from doing so by Boston police, who, despite the lack of a permit for the march, were highly cooperative and friendly, blocking off streets in front of the marchers for safety. Upon reaching Copley Square, the marchers sat down in the streets rather than enter the park for another rally, as there had been on Thursday night. After five minutes in the street, organizers informed police that they wished to continue marching down Boylston to Massachusetts Avenue, and then across the bridge to Harvard Square. The captain in charge of the scene told organizers to give him five minutes and he'd block off the streets and let Cambridge police know they were coming. True to his word, the march continued unobstructed down Boylston, past the public library and the Berklee Performance Center. After marchers had tried to block I-90, this time State Police had the onramp at Newbury blocked off with motorcycle troopers.

Halfway across the bridge into Cambridge, the march stopped and sat down, occupying the bridge for an extra ten minutes, and began moving again just as police were about to demand that they leave. The march continued slowly across the bridge, taking as much time as possible to keep it shut down. The protesters continued down Massachusetts Ave to Harvard Square, having another sit-in there at the intersection, after meeting up with another rally who had been waiting. The organizers made an announcement that all people not prepared for whatever reason to be arrested should get up and move onto the sidewalks. A large portion of the crowd moved, leaving some activists angry and yelling that people were dying in Iraq as they were leaving the streets. With only about a third of the group still in the street, organizers decided that a meaningful civil disobedience was not likely, and some marchers continued on to Cambridge Common while others headed home.

Overall, the day was a peaceful yet impassioned time of protest, and will likely be the sort of thing seen in the next few weeks in Boston and in other cities around the country. There will be a large, all-New-England peace rally in Boston on Saturday, March 29th at the Boston Common, 11:30 AM, expected to draw upwards of fifty to a hundred thousand people, according to organizers.