59°
UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Standing Up, Standing Together

UMass Boston students Neil Hudson and Jethro Dely joined the protest in Washington DC.
Jose Amado
UMass Boston students Neil Hudson and Jethro Dely joined the protest in Washington DC.

I left my house at 7:30 p.m. on March 16 to meet Professor Anthony Vandermeer in Jamaica Plain to attend the rally against the Iraq war. From Boston we went to Washington D.C., where we joined a march from the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial headed across the Potomac River to the Pentagon.

At the rally, a majority of the students we met were still in high school in a time when social activism is needed from college students who remain voiceless. Our time their was very interesting; not only did I get to the nation’s capitol, but I also got to interact with many veterans in favor of the war.

The pro-war vets came off nasty, disrespectful and were trying to provoke us into attacking them. The police were biased, and kept telling us to keep moving, though we were not saying anything to the pro-war vets’ disrespectful comments and racial epithets, which truly frustrated me and showed the discrimination remaining in America. How is it that the nation’s capitol police officers are choosing sides instead of remaining neutral? The behavior of the pro-war vets was completely uncalled for, and not much was being done to stop them. For example, an African-American Muslim was being called a racist slur by some pro-war vets. The police did little to subdue this situation, but Vandermeer spoke to the brother and calmed him down.

We walked past groups of war supporters only to be taunted, ridiculed and shouted at; we were called “communists,” “stupid fools,” “ugly monkeys,” “traitors,” told that we are shameful people, to go back to Africa and that we are stupid immigrants. They claimed we are not supporting our troops, are ignorant and we couldn’t read the signs we were holding.

At one point one vet followed me and was shouting his racist remarks, so I told him to shut up and keep his opinions to himself. Walking through that crowd gave me an idea of what the students in Arkansas had to face when they were integrated into Central High, an all-white school, back in the 1950s. Vandermeer was around and told us not to pay them any attention. About 200,000 of us proceeded to walk to the Pentagon and were met with more racist and bigot vets with disrespectful signs and more hateful comments. Once we were at the Pentagon, we could see the FBI keeping surveillance from a distance.

Eventually, the rally died down towards the end because of a lack of articulate speakers, and the speakers that were there were not captivating the audience. Also, attending had his or her own separate agenda; for example, I saw signs about immigration, social services, feminism, the need for more money into education, housing and many different topics that need attention. But the rally was to end the war in Iraq.

Furthermore, it was a good experience seeing how Americans are willing to treat other Americans as second-class citizens, and that the police are allowing this subjective type of behavior. Such factors as the cold weather and random speakers took away from the rally, and some speakers who got on the microphone could not convey any legitimate reasons or concerns, but simply stated their opposition to the war. I do not regret going, it just reminded me how separated America still is.