I was there with the black hat shading my face from the sun, yet two people said to me: “You have beautiful eyes.” Witchcraft. We were in a row at city hall plaza in the shadow of the JFK building.
The women in witch costumes had signs: ‘Protect the Dreamers,’ ‘Immigration is a Human Right,’ ‘Support Immigrants – Deport Racists,’ ‘Welcome Immigrants Their Children’ A lot of people gathered to take pictures as the witches sat on a cement wall in a row on City Hall Plaza.
Earlier, just after noon, a large table laden with food was set out to feed the arriving protest organizers and rally supporters for immigrant rights. Next to the Massachusetts 54th Memorial, at the top of the stone steps, a sound system was set up and some music was playing. At the foot of the steps, up against a wrought iron gate, there were many signs supporting immigrants and calling for the re-installment of the Dreamers – DACA act.
As the rally’s official starting time of one o’clock approached more people assembled at the foot of the stairs and around a nearby drink vendor with a pushcart. People were sitting on the park benches chatting and eating food with their protest signs by their side. A group of young women gathered closely together as someone took a ‘selfie’ with their phone. The grey skies of the early morning where clearing up and the temperature was a summery seventy degrees.
While there was a good twenty percent or more of the crowd who were older, most of the people look to be in their twenties. There were lots of white people and Latinos along with a smaller number of black and Asian people. Some people had kids in strollers or by the hand. The rally had a festive atmosphere with food and music and conversations and people greeting friends warmly.
Various groups set up tables with books and newspapers like the Socialist Workers Party, and Socialist Alternative. People circulated through the crowd selling leftist newspapers. Some had leaflets to hand out. There were passionate political discussions among the many clots of people gathered around before the speeches.
A large group of about a hundred chanting youth marched up the pathway from Commonwealth Avenue with a large banner chanting “No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist USA!” to applause from the crowd which parted so the militant contingent could march to the front.
The crowd had swelled to about four hundred people as the first speaker began to address the crowd. On Beacon Street at the top of the stairs one police SUV with blue lights flashing blocked off one lane of travel, but the tourist double-decker buses and regular traffic still went by – some one on the tour bus might be able to get a picture that included the Robert Gould Shaw memorial and the assembled crowd rallying for freedom and compassion right nest to the statue. A dozen cops were near by some of them with bicycles. The police seemed relaxed and the rally and march had a permit with no seeming threat of violence.
A Boston Teachers Union member spoke, someone from the Chelsea Teachers Association also called for tolerance for immigrants whatever their status. Boston mayoral candidate Tito Jackson spoke to the crowd. Some of the speakers addressed the crowd in Spanish. People were steadily coming up the hill from Park Street Station. A brass band was playing near the fountain near the station, and the sounds drifted up and mingled with the chants.
One sign handed out read: “Trump: Tool of the Rich – Enemy of All Working People”
Another sign: “Justice for Immigrants #DefendDACA”
As the march was to begin the rally marshals lined one of the paths through the common and the speaker at the podium assured people that this was a completely legal march and that there was a permit and the police were in cooperation. The march headed down the slope towards Park Street and crossed Tremont Street as people watched and cheered or jeered from the sidelines. The common was full of people on a beautiful September summer day. Over at the bandstand the Cannabis ‘Freedom’ Rally was taking place. The marchers went down Winter Street as shopkeepers stepped outside to applaud the defense of immigrant rights.
The march turned north on Washington Street which was full of shoppers as the rally moved down the pedestrian mall. As the march stretched out there looked to be about 2,000 people walking and chanting and carrying signs. At the front of the march there were horn players and drummers making some noise and attracting attention. On the sidewalk people raised their cell phones to take pictures or videos of the protest. Many people applauded. In Boston immigrants have support.
Down Washington Street, past the Irish Famine memorial on School Street, past the Old Globe Bookstore now a food joint, past the Old South Church, and then left at the Old Statehouse where all of New England was once governed from by the Colonial Governor sent by the King.
Up Court Street past the back of the Old City Hall and onto City Hall Plaza and over to the steps at the foot of the JFK Federal Building. The crowd filed in and lined up on the stairs facing a podium and listened to speeches. A little after three o’clock the last speaker urged the crowd to continue the campaign to show support for Dreamers and other immigrants who need support from the community they are in, and from all decent people. The radical booksellers folded up their tables and some people left signs behind as the sound system was dismantled and some core planners gathered under the trees near City Hall to plan the next steps.
I was drawing on the train home and sketched on the back of a protest poster I picked up as I was leaving city hall plaza. I had a newspaper on my clip board and unrolled the sign on top as best I could on my knees. The front of the poster featured a picture of Trump with a diagonal red line across his face with a DANGER logo underneath and a yellow banner reading – ‘Racist Poison.’ Next to the graphic was the slogan: Trump Tool of the Rich – Enemy of All Working People. I turned over to the empty white back of the poster board and got a pencil out of my backpack. I looked up and saw a man’s tee-shirt facing me with an intricate Celtic weave pattern that I copied onto the back of the poster. In a trance I produced a wavy set of grey lines – what to put in the middle? I drew a cube head in isometric with Easter Island Eyes. You have beautiful eyes.