Boston Protest Report, Oct. 4, 2002 -- by Robyn Su Miller
We had some amount of hundreds present---I estimate six hundred at least. Unfortunately, I only made 160 FirstAmendmentZone sashes, which were quickly snatched up and absorbed into the crowd, so they didn't help to count. Had I made 300, then I might have been able to gage what percentage of the crowd wore them.
Part of the reason we had hundreds instead of thousands was that the coalition of peace groups chose to keep their rally at 6 pm even though Bush was appearing at a luncheon fundraiser. There was mega-confusion over that one despite several emailed explanations, with many people still thinking that Bush was appearing at 6. Because they couldn't believe the coalition would choose to march hours after Bush departed.
But, as you often say, organizing liberals is like herding cats.
Anyway, on to the most important concession of the day!!!
There were at least two of us (me and Alice Little Copeland, whom many might remember from the Inauguration Protest as the Pilgrim) who were ready to get arrested had they tried to corral us into a First Amendment Zone while letting Mitt Romney and Bush supporters roam at large.
The head of security and police kept assuring us they would not allow ANY signs outside of the protest pit.
The minute I saw a bus start to unload with Mitt Romney signs, I headed over to stand by them. The secret service (or security?) agent sent me back saying he couldn't do his job with me interfering. Which completely begs the question whether he'd have spoken to them at all had we not informed them we would not tolerate a double standard.
He then explained to the Romney supporters that all signs had to remain in the designated area.
No Mitt Romney signs. Later a lone Bush supporter joined us with a small Bush sign. I made the announcement over my bullhorn that Bush was in the pit! Meaning, we had a guest Bush supporter. No special treatment!
I guess that's kind of a reverse victory, but it's better than a double standard.
Alice still wasn't satisfied and she wandered to the "forbidden" side of the hotel and was allowed to remain there for a half-hour! I guess it's true most people don't read. She was dressed as a Pilgrim and carried a large flag, but her sign said "No Blood for Oil." When they finally realized she wasn't part of the welcome committee, she was surrounded by police.
She told them to arrest her, but they wouldn't. One policeman explained his mother would never forgive him if he did (unlike Florida, Boston police aren't into arresting grandmothers!). She replied that he should know it was going to come to that soon, and so to remember they had a date in the future to keep.
The media were all only a block away, but they were dutifully goose-stepping to the Designated Story of the Day---the Trial of the Shoe Bomber.
Some people tried to direct their attention to us, to no avail. When I walked by them later and asked how the Shoe Bomber story was going, no one met my eye, and the answer was a grunt.
Bush, of course, was hauled in and out the back door. We'd examined the site earlier, and although it's an isolated spit of land, there are a few ways in and out, so there was no way to predict where to gather so as to be seen by any motorcade. We knew when he came and left by the helicopters.
There were several excellent signs. Two were hand-drawn cartoons. One, a picture of Saddam and Bush each thinking "He's the madman!" The other, an SUV driver sidling up to a tank and saying "Fill 'er up with Premium Blood!" There were all ages and many creative takes on the main theme: this war is a criminal scheme being carried out by chickenhawks who stand to profit by spilling other people's blood!
We had a fantastic group of anarchist cheerleaders, too!
Several of us went to a nearby restaurant to try to refresh ourselves and stay for the 6 pm rally, but after a couple of hours we were still too cold and beat. The old Skull and Bones "spell" that Bush casts wherever he goes held true today: despite a forecast of sun, the day was overcast, and finally began to rain.
Hopefully, William Pitt returned for the second rally, so we'll have an online report. Will noted that during the protest we'd been completely boxed in. Had there been any reason to clamp down on the crowd, we'd have been trapped. They'd put up a barrier behind us as well once we'd assembled.
After they dismantled the barriers, a contingent of protesters headed for the hotel exit to confront the $5,000 luncheon attendees as they left. I was ready for the ubiquitous "Get a job!"
I replied, "In a Bush economy? Get Real!"
There were some memorable bits of splendid inanity. Such as when one retreating luncheon attendee denounced my "bad makeup job." I was mystified by that, since I was wearing very little make-up. I finally remembered that the Republican ideal of a made-up woman was Katherine Harris and I resolved to wear my false eyelashes next time!
There was also some sneering at our small numbers while they had "thousands" (sure they did!) to welcome Bush. Funny, I don't remember their having such high regard for numbers when the *majority* voted for Al Gore!
The woman I provoked into slapping me did so because of local politics. Mitt Romney compared his opponent Shannon OBrien to the acting Governor Jane Swift. Since they are of opposing parties the only connection is that they're both women! I asked all the departing attendees whether they agreed with Mitt's apparent view that women are completely interchangeable, and chided the women particularly on this.
Incidentally, Jane Swift had a classy response to Mitt's underhanded message to the sexists in the state. She said she was "honored" by the comparison. Maybe it's time for Swift to join a party that includes women instead of elbows them out of the race.
My sign read "Shannon is too 'Swift' for Mitt-wit." I was hoping the play on local politics might make it into the local press. I don't watch TV so can't report on whether we made it onto the local news, but I will keep you posted if I hear reports of any coverage.
~~robyn su, reporting from the First Amendment Zone !
Robyn Su Miller
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