I went with my roommate Emma today to participate in the anti-war march to Occupy Boston. There were hundreds of people in the march. We stood by the headhouse and watched everyone go by, then walked straight to Dewey Square, while the march went off down Tremont. I have no idea where the march got to, because while I expected them to be there in fifteen minutes or so, they didn’t arrive for about an hour. In that time, we wandered around the site, which had changed a little since I was there a week ago, mostly expanded by more tents on the edges.
While we were waiting for the march to get there (they took forever!) we were captivated by an interaction happening on the plaza between protesters and a rotating slate of 4-5 bible-thumpers who had a milk crate and a megaphone and weren’t afraid to use them. The protesters were initially standing in a line in front of the active ‘thumper, with signs that said “this man does not speak for us” and chanting “equality”for everyone!” Then drums were added to the mix, and more chanting, which became an encirclement. My stomach was slightly turned by the tactic of drowning out those whose views you don’t like, but I imagine it would’ve been turned further hearing the ‘thumper’s words. Emma told me that this is a common tactic when Fred Phelps comes to town to tell gay people they can’t go to heaven. I continued to feel weird about it all until someone started playing a trumpet. We started dancing. I think it’s better to combat hate by displacing it with a dance party than by simply saying “no!”
Then, finally, we saw the march approaching from the same side street that we had. They must’ve doubled back and come at Dewey Square from Downtown Crossing. We positioned ourselves on the north edge of the plaza, right next to the tunnel exit. There were lots of police directing traffic, and suddenly the other side of the street was filled with protesters waiting to cross. Then they crossed, led by some anarchist folks who seemed to cross before the police were completely ready. But it’s hard (without riot gear and great numbers) to stop the crest of a hundreds-strong march when they want to cross a street. Then the entire march was crossing the street, and it was fun to watch the reactions of the people stopped in cars coming up from the tunnel. The energy was great. Then the plaza was filled, and we were standing near the police at the periphery. It was somewhat awkward standing near them while people were speaking to the crowd with lots of anti-cop language. But there weren’t any real problems. We then walked around for a bit, then got in the subway and went home.