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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Protesters Oppose Bush Visit

Thomas Barker (far left) a UMB student, beats a protest drum at Copley Square about halfway through the October 4 protest.
Thomas Barker (far left) a UMB student, beats a protest drum at Copley Square about halfway through the October 4 protest.

People carrying signs reading “Earth to Bush, No War on Iraq” and “Peace” gathered near Atlantic Avenue in Downtown Boston. Organizers planned the rally in response to an area appearance by President George W. Bush who was in the Commonwealth on Friday, October 4. Bush was attending and speaking at a $1.25 million dollar fundraiser for Republican gubernatorial candidate Mitt Romney.

According to The Boston Globe, Bush has already raised $130 million for Republican candidates running for office this election, and will continue in the final weeks before the elections. The Globe also reported that Bush said, “The military is not my first choice. But peace is.” Despite Bush’s claims, many people in the Bay State gathered to oppose his policies.

A protest was held early in the day in which people marched to the Seaport Hotel, the site of Romney’s lunchtime fundraiser. The original call for the protest was for 6pm, but the time was moved at the last minute. Organizers decided to go ahead with a lunchtime protest and an evening protest, since there was little time to inform people of the Bush schedule change.

This double protest led some anti-war demonstrators to be confused. One woman asked her friends, “Where’s George Bush?” when the protest ended up on Boston Common, because the original march route was to the Seaport Hotel. Organizers did mention the schedule confusion briefly at the pre-march rally, but latecomers and those who weren’t close enough to hear the speeches, were left in the dark.

At the start of the evening protest, there was no indication that the rally organized by United for Justice with Peace (UJP) would last until nearly 10 pm. After a few short speeches which detailed the escalating conflict with Iraq, US foreign policy in general, and an overall dissatisfaction with Bush’s administration, at around 7pm, the group of protesters took to the streets. The group walked up Atlantic Avenue then down State Street, heading toward the Boston Common.

Several UMB students were involved in the action. When asked why they came to the protest, students had a variety of responses.

MassPIRG student coordinator Emily Saxton said, “Bush’s environmental, economic, and international affairs policies are pandering to the requests of big business,” she continued, “Most Americans oppose his policies and it’s time we stand up and say something about it.”

“I’m against invading Iraq and I’m against the whole Bush administration,” said Patrick McCormack, a full-time staff member at UMB’s William Joiner Center and a student at the university. The Joiner Center at UMass, which was officially instated in 1982, is celebrating their twentieth year. The center was formed in response to concerns of Vietnam veterans and others following that war. The Joiner Center sponsored a well-attended “Teach-In/Speak Out” on October 2 at UMB (see page 1A).

After a short wrap-up rally on the Boston Common parade grounds, a youth contingent led the march down Newbury Street. One protester commented, “We’re gonna march down Newbury Street and we’re gonna break it.” But, the action remained non-violent and chants of “Whose streets? Our streets!” filled the air. The march rerouted yet again before the final blocks of Newbury Street.

When asked about why the protest was veering off of Newbury Street, a lawyer affiliated with UJP said, “Police have been very cooperative, they were arresting people in the streets yesterday [October 3, at Justice for Janitors actions]. If people want to do Civil Disobedience, that’s fine, I just don’t want to mislead people,” he said.

After a short stop in Copley Square, a dwindled number of protesters finished the trek down Newbury Street, and turned right to walk across the Massachusetts Avenue Bridge. Although smaller than the original group of around 1500, the group that went on to Harvard Square was still a few hundred strong. The demonstrators filled a lane of traffic, closing it off to those commuting by car, and followed Mass Ave. into Harvard Square. Some of those who stayed on for the whole march are UMB students.

UMB student Michael Berman said, “There are so many different platforms for an antiwar movement to be started … ten million Iraquis have already died due to US sanctions.” Berman also said that he believes unilateral military intervention in Iraq is related to special interests of the Bush administration.

Mitch Lewis, member of the International Socialist Organization and UMB student said he attended to demonstration “to build resistance to Bush’s bloody war.”

About the Contributor
Natalia Cooper served as news editor for The Mass Media the following years: 2001-2002; *2002-2003 *News writer Gin Dumcius filled in as news editor for Spring 2003 before returning to their writer position. Disclaimer: Years served is based on online database and may not detail entire service.