Convention Protesters Upset With Site
By MARK JEWELL, Associated Press Writer
As thousands of delegates, journalists and dignitaries stream into the FleetCenter, protesters for the next few days will be enclosed in a shadowy, closed-off piece of urban streetscape just over a block away.
The maze of overhead netting, chain link fencing and razor wire couldn't be further in comfort from the high-tech confines of the arena stage where John Kerry
is to accept the Democratic nomination for president during the four-day convention that kicks off Monday.
Abandoned, elevated rail lines and green girders loom over most of the official demonstration zone that slopes down to a subway station closed for the duration. To avoid hitting girders, tall protesters will have to duck at one end of the 28,000-square-foot zone. Train tracks obscure the line of sight to much of the FleetCenter. Concrete blocks were set around streets in the area, a transportation hub on the north side of downtown.
Protesters likened the site Saturday to a concentration camp as they complained it is too far from the FleetCenter to get their messages across, even though the site is next to a parking lot where many delegates will pass on foot en route to the arena.
Authorities say and a judge agreed the discomforts are needed for security in the post-Sept. 11 era.
On a rainy morning made darker by overhead girders, protest leaders held a news conference at the demonstration zone Saturday to object to the site. Some called it a violation of their free-speech rights. As they spoke, pools of rainwater collected on pavement.
"We don't deserve to be put in a detention center, a concentration camp," said Medea Benjamin of San Francisco. "It's tragic that here in Boston, the birthplace of democracy, our First Amendment rights are being trampled on."
Two fellow protesters from the anti-war group Code Pink, who dressed in pink Statue of Liberty garb, taped their mouths shut. Some activists said while they understand the need for security, organizers went overboard.
"We are on high, high red alert for the protection of our civil liberties," said Claryce Evans, national coordinator for United Peace and Justice. American Civil Liberties Union
and National Lawyers Guild attorneys asked a federal judge to open up or move the zone.
U.S. District Judge Douglas P. Woodlock this past week called the conditions "an affront to free expression" and a "festering boil." He refused to order changes, but is letting protesters march past the site Sunday. A coalition of protesters appealed to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Authorities said they were lowering the maximum number of protesters to 1,000, from a previous 4,000, because of concerns of overcrowding.
2004 The New York Times Company
Confusion reigns as security rules
With 15-foot fencing and black netting, the area around the
FleetCenter was transformed yesterday into the so-called hard zone,
where uniformed soldiers and police officers in bright orange
raincoats patrolled outside while the Secret Service completed its
sweep of the facility for security threats in preparation for
tomorrow's start of the Democratic National Convention.
Because of the security sweep, several hundred reporters and news
crews spent up to two hours waiting to get to office space inside
''It's the Secret Service," said one Boston police officer,
after he sent reporters to the wrong entrance. ''They keep changing
About 500 journalists toting briefcases and cameras were herded
around almost the entire perimeter of the FleetCenter, and across
two ramps to Route 93 and onto the parking lot of the Spaulding
Another 200 journalists cooled their heels at one entrance to the
FleetCenter for more than 90 minutes not knowing that the media at
another entrance was finally gaining access, at least to the
''I've covered 10 conventions," said Mark Z. Barabak, a
Washington correspondent for the Los Angeles Times. ''There's a lot
of confusion. It doesn't seem like anyone knows what's going
The Secret Service chalked up the confusion to necessary
precautions. ''The whole security screening process is a thought out
and complicated process when we're doing something like this,"
said Ann Roman, a spokeswoman for the Secret Service.
Dump trucks from Boston Public Works blocked several streets
leading to the security perimeter on Causeway Street, adding to the
Two private security guards stood watch by a local Fox 25 news
satellite truck parked on Friend Street outside the perimeter. The
Fox 25 logo was covered with blue duct tape, perhaps in response to
the FBI warning issued last week that a radical group of domestic
terrorists may target news vehicles. Most network and local TV news
trucks were parked in a designated lot inside the hard zone,
A spokeswoman for CBS news said her bosses had instructed her not
to talk about security preparations, but Sandy Genelius said, ''We
feel we're as prepared as we can be."
Asked for updates about threats to media vehicles, Coast Guard
Petty Officer Zack Zubricki said, ''There have been no incidents.
It's been quiet so far."
The biggest sighting of the day by far was the arrival of a
liquefied natural gas tanker traveling through Boston harbor with
four tug boats flanked by four orange zodiac inflatable boats. Two
US Coast Guard ships escorted the flotilla. Journalists standing on
the roof of the nearby Boston Harbor Hotel gawked as the heavily
fortified blue tanker cruised through the harbor with black military
helicopters whirring overhead.
LNG tankers sailing into the Distrigas terminal in Everett have
long been controversial as potential terrorist targets. Distrigas
announced last spring that there would be no LNG tankers traveling
into Boston during convention week. But Distrigas spokesman Douglas
Bailey said yesterday that the delivery was planned well in advance
with various law enforcement officials notified.
''We voluntarily scheduled our tankers' arrivals and departures
so they wouldn't interfere with the DNC, which starts next
week," said Bailey. ''We don't release when we bring them
in," he said. ''Nobody is surprised by this."
Mayor Thomas M. Menino has repeatedly warned that LNG tankers
pose a potential threat to the city when they cross the harbor and
dock in Everett. But a spokesman for Menino, Seth Gitell, said that
the LNG delivery yesterday was not a problem since the convention
had not yet begun.
By last evening, there had been no security-related arrests.
But amid the heightened security, police answered an emergency
call in Hyde Park yesterday and searched a privately owned school
bus with Idaho plates that contained two small gasoline containers
and a few 130-gallon propane tanks, Boston police said.
Some media members found amusement. Jim Mitchell, a CBS crew
member, smiled at having to cross the highway to gain access to the
magnetometers outside the media center. ''It was kind of
insane," Mitchell said. ''Like, 'make way for the ducklings
crossing Storrow Drive.' "
Stephen Kurkjian and Glen Johnson of the
Globe Staff and Globe Correspondent Jack Encarnacao contributed to
Sat Jul 24, 2004 6:01 PM ET
U.S. Capitol police officers patrol Boston's
Rowes Wharf Saturday, July 24, 2004, two days before the start of the
Democratic National Convention in Boston. (AP Photo/Chitose Suzuki)
Monday, July 26, 2004
|Presidential Elections - AP
First Democratic Delegates Hit Boston
The designated "free speech zone at the Fleet Center in Boston has drawn outrage
from legal and free speech advocates, but so far, no protest from the Democratic party.
By DAVID ESPO, AP Special Correspondent
BOSTON - The first Democratic
delegates descended on their heavily fortified convention city
Saturday as campaign officials said Sen. John Kerry's main challenge was to persuade voters just tuning
into the race to hand him the White House in an age of terrorism.
"It's very much a get-to-know-you process," said
spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter at the same time Kerry's convention
scriptwriters labored to find the combination of words, symbols
and images to make the perfect introduction.
Kerry, who runs even to slightly ahead of President Bush in pre-convention polls, campaigned slowly toward a
convention city that has nurtured his career for decades.
"John Edwards and I are determined that we are going to be champions
for the middle class, the folks who built this country," he
told an audience in Sioux City, Iowa, the state whose caucuses put
him on the path to the nomination.
"We go to Boston, to the birthplace of the revolution of
America and the possibilities of the future. And from there we go
to the White House."
The convention is the country's first since the terrorist
attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the security precautions showed it.
Air Force warplanes offered constant air cover for the city,
and authorities said liquefied natural gas tankers which normally
use Boston Harbor to reach their terminal would be denied access
for the week.
The Coast Guard had infrared and night-vision cameras for use
in its patrols of the harbor, while 100 video cameras silently
scanned the area around the FleetCenter.
Inside the hall, the transformation from athletic arena to
convention hall was nearly complete. A huge built-to-order podium
filled one side of the facility, with 100,000 red, white and blue
balloons nestled in the ceiling, to be dropped on cue.
For the delegates, the weekend promised a blur of
pre-convention parties. Among them was a Sunday clambake for
high-dollar Kerry donors, hosted by Massachusetts Sen. Edward M.
Kennedy at the family compound on Cape Cod where John F.
Kennedy sweated out the results of a close election more than four
A dozen presidential campaigns later, another Massachusetts
senator hopes to follow him to the White House.
Kerry, 60, arrives in Boston on Wednesday, although he isn't
expected in the convention hall before he delivers his prime-time
acceptance speech on the convention's final night.
Several officials said there were plans for Kerry to speak to
the delegates by remote hookup on Tuesday night, when his wife
Teresa takes her speaking turn at the convention podium. These
officials spoke on condition of anonymity, noting the event has
been designed as a surprise for Mrs. Kerry.
Kerry also is expected to attend a fireworks display on
Wednesday night, a star-spangled spectacle timed to punctuate
Edwards' vice presidential acceptance speech.
The political convention season opened with the electorate
divided, Kerry having consolidated his support among Democrats and
Bush among Republicans. Ralph Nader's inclusion in the surveys did little to change the
outcome of the polls.
The latest Los Angeles Times survey showed Kerry and Bush in a
statistical tie — 46 percent for the Democratic ticket and 44
for Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. A Time Magazine survey released on the eve of the
convention showed the race to be 48 percent for Kerry and 44
percent for Bush, with a 4 percent margin of error.
Many surveys also show that more than 50 percent of the
electorate say they believe the country is on the wrong track —
a clear indication that the nation may be ready to switch
But Kerry and his campaign agenda remain less known than Bush.
In a Los Angeles Times poll, one-third of all voters said they
didn't know enough about the four-term Massachusetts senator to
form an opinion of him. A recent NBC/Wall Street Journal survey
reported only 66 percent of voters knew a lot or a fair amount of
what he stands for.
Campaign strategists said the millions of voters who don't know
about Kerry comprise the audience they're targeting convention
Convention planners intend to present Kerry as a decorated
Vietnam veteran, prosecutor and senator, and use his biography to
depict him as a man who has served the country in a variety of
Jim Rassman, who credits Kerry with saving his life in Vietnam
decades ago, will speak to the convention Thursday night. Former
Democratic Sen. Max Cleland of Georgia, a Vietnam veteran who lost
three limbs on the battlefield, will deliver the formal
Campaign officials, who have the final say in virtually all of
the dozens of speeches to be delivered over the four days, said
they intend to devote little time to criticizing Bush from the
The focus will be on Kerry and his agenda, said one strategist,
who contended that there was no need to assail Bush because
continuing violence in post-war Iraq and an economy still emerging from a slump was
undercutting the president.
At the same time, Kerry's aides have taken pains to say they
don't expect a major surge in public support as a result of the
"Challengers sometimes get their convention and vice
presidential selection bounces because they have not consolidated
their partisan base," Kerry's pollster, Mark Mellman, wrote
in a recent memo. This year, he said, "there is little base
left for John Kerry to consolidate."
Bush, whose own nominating convention opens in New York in five
weeks, was at his ranch in Texas. But his campaign did its best to
depict Kerry as a lawmaker whose views are too liberal even for
voters in his own, heavily Democratic state.
On the Net:
By MARK JEWELL, AP
Convention Protesters Upset With Site
BOSTON (July 25, 2004) - As thousands of
delegates, journalists and dignitaries stream into the
FleetCenter, protesters for the next few days will be enclosed
in a shadowy, closed-off piece of urban streetscape just over a
Protesters dressed as the Statue of Liberty pose in
the designated protest area.
The maze of overhead netting, chain link
fencing and razor wire couldn't be further in comfort from the
high-tech confines of the arena stage where John Kerry is to
accept the Democratic nomination for president during the
four-day convention that kicks off Monday.
Abandoned, elevated rail lines and green
girders loom over most of the official demonstration zone that
slopes down to a subway station closed for the duration. To
avoid hitting girders, tall protesters will have to duck at one
end of the 28,000-square-foot zone. Train tracks obscure the
line of sight to much of the FleetCenter. Concrete blocks were
set around streets in the area, a transportation hub on the
north side of downtown.
Protesters likened the site Saturday to a
concentration camp as they complained it is too far from the
FleetCenter to get their messages across, even though the site
is next to a parking lot where many delegates will pass on foot
en route to the arena.
Authorities say - and a judge agreed -
the discomforts are needed for security in the post-Sept. 11
On a rainy morning made darker by
overhead girders, protest leaders held a news conference at the
demonstration zone Saturday to object to the site. Some called
it a violation of their free-speech rights. As they spoke, pools
of rainwater collected on pavement.
"We don't deserve to be put in a
detention center, a concentration camp," said Medea
Benjamin of San Francisco. "It's tragic that here in
Boston, the birthplace of democracy, our First Amendment rights
are being trampled on."
Two fellow protesters from the anti-war
group Code Pink, who dressed in pink Statue of Liberty garb,
taped their mouths shut. Some activists said while they
understand the need for security, organizers went overboard.
"We are on high, high red alert for
the protection of our civil liberties," said Claryce Evans,
national coordinator for United Peace and Justice. American
Civil Liberties Union and National Lawyers Guild attorneys asked
a federal judge to open up or move the zone.
U.S. District Judge Douglas P. Woodlock
this past week called the conditions "an affront to free
expression" and a "festering boil." He refused to
order changes, but is letting protesters march past the site
Sunday. A coalition of protesters appealed to the 1st U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals.
Authorities said they were lowering the
maximum number of protesters to 1,000, from a previous 4,000,
because of concerns of overcrowding.
07/24/04 17:46 EDT
Copyright 2004 The
preparations enter final hours
By MATT APUZZO
Associated Press Writer
BOSTON- Protesters during the day and a series of "suspicious
packages" at night were the major security concerns on the day before the
Democratic National Convention.
A black suitcase downtown, a green trash bag on Franklin
Street, an unattended backpack in Cambridge and an empty shoe box at a
downtown subway station were among the dozen incidents bomb squads responded
to on Sunday night.
A bomb squad also was called to 60 State Street where some of the biggest
movers and shakers in the Democratic Party - including President Bill Clinton
and his wife, U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y. - were attending a party.
But that scare, like the others, turned out to be nothing of concern. People
looked on in curiosity rather than fear, as law enforcement went out their
The number of calls was high, probably because people are being more vigilant,
said Boston police spokeswoman Nadine Taylor-Miller.
"People have been told to be a little more aware of their
surroundings," she said. "People are asking 'Why is this trashbag
Bomb squads responded to every call, the same as they would even if there was
no convention in town, Taylor-Miller said.
"These are the kinds of things that we're prepared for. It's post 9-11.
These are the things that we deal with now," she said.
Responding to the extra calls was not extra work, but was expected and built
into plans for policing the convention, said Taylor-Miller, who added,
"That's part of the job."
Police patrolled the perimeter of City Hall Plaza during an evening Boston
Pops concert as helicopters rattled overhead.
The epicenter of the security was the FleetCenter, where the four-day
convention will be held. Camouflaged military police officers staked out the
elevated subway lines overlooking the building, while bomb-sniffing dogs and
officers roamed nearby streets.
Metal barricades, about 7-feet high, were placed along some of the nearby
streets to block and direct foot traffic.
An estimated 3,000 demonstrators - most protesting the war in Iraq - gathered
about a half mile away, on Boston Common, a grassy park not far from candidate
John F. Kerry's Beacon Hill town house. They marched from there past the
FleetCenter, through City Hall Plaza and back to the Common.
Another 1,000 anti-abortion activists gathered at historic Faneuil Hall for a
rally. Some of them later marched toward the FleetCenter, crossing paths with
the anti-war march. The confrontation was brief and mostly peaceful.
The protests resulted in one arrest. Another protester was detained for
questioning by the Secret Service, and later released.
State highway officials were planning for Monday's shutdown of Interstate 93,
a major highway that runs just feet from the FleetCenter, where 4,350
delegates will convene Monday through Thursday to nominate Kerry.
Associated Press Writer Steve Leblanc contributed to this report.
The "Demonstration Zone" at the Democratic National Convention:
An "Irretrievably Sad" Affront to the First Amendment
By Michael Avery
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Sunday 25 July 2004
Demonstrators who want to be within sight and sound of the delegates entering and leaving the Democratic National Convention at the Fleet Center in Boston this coming week will be forced to protest in a special "demonstration zone" adjacent to the terminal where buses carrying the delegates will arrive. The zone is large enough only for 1000 persons to safely congregate and is bounded by two chain link fences separated by concrete highway barriers. The outermost fence is covered with black mesh that is designed to repel liquids. Much of the area is under an abandoned elevated train line. The zone is covered by another black net which is topped by razor wire. There will be no sanitary facilities in the zone and tables and chairs will not be permitted. There is no way for the demonstrators to pass written materials to the convention delegates.
The federal judge who heard a challenge to the demonstration zone by protest groups on July 22d stated in open court, "I, at first, thought before taking the view [of the site] that the characterizations of the space as being like an internment camp were litigation hyperbole. I now believe that it's an understatement. One cannot conceive of what other elements you would put in place to make a space more of an affront to the idea of free expression ..." Despite that, the judge denied the groups' challenge to the conditions and ruled that they were justified by concerns about the safety of the convention delegates. The hearing on the case and the judge's ruling contain important lessons about what has happened to freedom of speech during the War on Terror.
Following the lead of Attorney General Ashcroft, law enforcement officials in the United States have taken two steps that have been devastating to the exercise of free speech rights. First, principles and tactics that arguably, but only arguably, may sometimes be appropriate with respect to the conduct of war or the prevention of terrorism are now routinely employed with respect to ordinary law enforcement. Second, the focus has shifted from the punishment of people who have committed crimes to a strategy that pretends to be able to prevent crime. Taken together these steps have the consequence that not only those who have committed crimes are subject to control by law enforcement. Those who fall into general categories of people who are suspected of having the potential to commit criminal acts may also be monitored, physically controlled and in certain cases, detained, by law enforcement.
In Boston the police have no specific information that individual people or groups plan to assault convention delegates. Of course, if such acts did occur, the number of law enforcement agents scheduled to take the streets in Boston is more than sufficient to apprehend and prosecute anyone who would commit such an assault. The justification for the demonstration zone, however, is that such assaults must be prevented before they happen. There is no evidence that they may happen beyond what the judge characterized as the "generic experience of the past several years at such events." Everyone who plans to protest is assumed to be someone who may throw rocks and urine at delegates, or who would break up tables and chairs to obtain weapons to attack delegates or police.
On three occasions during the hearing, and once again while announcing his decision, the Judge referred to the plaintiffs who brought the case to complain about the demonstration area as the "defendants." It does not take a psychoanalyst to know that this slip of the tongue has meaning. The fact is that with no evidence whatsoever those who would protest close to the site of the Convention have already been convicted of being up to no good.
This approach represents a major shift in values in our criminal justice system and the principles that protect rights of free expression. The criminal justice issues were appreciated by my twelve year old daughter who attended the court proceedings with me. "Dad," she whispered during the hearing, "I thought you were innocent until proven guilty. That doesn't seem to be what the judge is doing here."
The shift in First Amendment law can be appreciated by comparing the judge's ruling on the DNC demonstration zone with the Supreme Court's decision in 1969 in the Tinker case where it upheld the right of children to wear black arm bands to school to protest the Vietnam War. The school officials had argued that the arm bands would lead to disruption of the educational process. The Supreme Court rejected the argument, holding that "undifferentiated fear or apprehension of disturbance is not enough to overcome the right to freedom of expression." In Boston, as in the Tinker case, the authorities have no evidence beyond an "undifferentiated fear" of trouble.
In other cases the Supreme Court has recognized that the First Amendment requires "breathing room." Where the government is forced to interfere with free expression in order to further other legitimate state interests, the interference should be as limited as possible in order to avoid "chilling" the willingness of people to engage in free speech. The demonstration zone in Boston, on the other hand, is a walk in freezer for free speech. Experienced protestors will avoid the humiliation of being subjected to the conditions in this zone, and less experienced citizens who might wish to convey some message to convention delegates will be too terrified by the netting and razor wire to go anywhere near the site. I shudder to think what message is conveyed to children like my daughter about the possibilities for free expression in this country.
In his decision the judge said that he found it "irretrievably sad" that circumstances required the conditions in the demonstration zone. Of course, the court was free to decide that the government had not proven that the conditions were necessary and a more intrepid judge would have done so. What is genuinely "irretrievably sad" is that the judicial branch has accepted so uncritically the demands of the security arm of the state and that one of the lessons of this convention is that the First Amendment is now in urgent need of a life support system to survive.
Michael Avery is the President of the National Lawyers Guild and a constitutional law professor at Suffolk Law School in Boston.
Convention site locked down tight
Air monitors, retinal scans -- and no trash cans -- are part of security plan.
Security personnel were on the lookout Saturday on Causeway Street near Boston's FleetCenter, where double barricades have been set up in preparation for the convention. -- Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press
By Mary Beth Schneider
July 25, 2004
BOSTON -- The first thing Democrats arriving in Boston see are the smiles of the volunteers welcoming them to this city's first national political convention.
The second are the police, military and other security forces, who have transformed this convention town into a fortress.
Barricades, razor-wire fences and dog patrols ring the FleetCenter, where Democrats will meet Monday through Thursday to nominate Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts for president.
Security agents loaded with sophisticated equipment disguised in backpacks monitored air quality in that area, on the lookout for radiological, biological and chemical attacks.
Air Force Maj. Eric Butterbaugh, a spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command in Colorado Springs, Colo., said fighter pilots would be on patrol over Boston.
Litter is everywhere on the sidewalks surrounding the FleetCenter. There's nowhere to put it. Trash cans have been removed from that area.
But there are many gray rubber trash cans at the security gates.
During a light rainfall Saturday, those cans were filled with umbrellas and other items confiscated from people seeking entry into the center, most of them members of the news media.
Thousands of delegates, journalists and political dignitaries will have descended on Boston by tonight, when welcoming parties for state delegations will be held.
Purses, backpacks and computers weren't merely scanned -- they were unzipped, unbuckled, every pocket opened and every item inside inspected.
Karen Horseman, a former Indianapolis City-County Council member who is a delegate, said police were patrolling the hallways as she attended a credentials committee meeting in a hotel.
Perry Secrest, an Indianapolis attorney vacationing in Boston, said there were military officers, dressed in camouflage, patrolling on a subway train he rode.
Electronic and wooden signs warned motorists along the highways of closures. About 40 miles of highway leading into and out of the city will be closed from afternoon into the evening during the convention proceedings.
The city sits on Boston Harbor, and its waterways also were under tight security.
Convention delegates and others have been warned not to roam without their hotel keys, because they can't get back into the hotel without them.
Dan Parker, executive director of the Indiana Democratic Party, said one high-tech hotel was even using a retinal scan to screen people entering its doors.
Mike Harmless, chairman of the Indiana delegation, said he will receive a "walk-through" of the FleetCenter today so he can brief Indiana delegates on what to expect Monday, when most of them will get their first look at the convention locale.
But, he said, he had known that in a nation so much more aware of terrorism in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, security concerns -- always high at conventions -- would reach new levels.
"We knew it would be like this. We could tell that it was going to be dramatically increased from (the 2000 convention in) Los Angeles, where I thought it was very secure," Harmless said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
What ever happened to the "Land of the Free"
guess it is all behind the barbed wire .....-
"Cameras, monitored in Washington, D.C., by the Department of
Homeland Security, can be seen on many street corners in the soft zone."
Free Speech Behind the Razor Wire
By Mark Baard, Wired News
July 27, 2004
BOSTON -- The estimated 5,000 protesters at the Democratic National
Convention this week have so far bumped heads over their political
differences. In some cases, they have even barred one another from their
scheduled (and permitted) events.
But activists have been largely united in one civil action: their
boycott of the so-called free-speech zone carved out by the U.S. Secret
Service and local authorities, the only spot where protesters will be able to
shout their messages to the delegates arriving on buses in a nearby parking
The protesters are also coordinating actions outside the free-speech
zone by sending text messages on their wireless phones. Some protesters for a
short time Monday converted the zone into a mock prison camp by donning hoods
and marching in the cage with their hands behind their backs.
The protest zone, which most people here simply call "the
cage," is beneath an elevated section of disused subway tracks near a
newly paved bus parking lot.
Activists say the zone resembles the U.S. prison camp in Guantanamo
Bay, Cuba, and the notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
The zone, surrounded by two layers of chain link fences mounted on
Jersey barriers, draped with black mesh and topped with razor wire, violates
the protesters' free-speech rights, said a legal observer for the Boston
chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.
"You can't have free speech inside a prison," said the
observer, Tony Naro, a recent college graduate who plans to start law school
Observers like Naro attend rallies and marches to record incidents
where the authorities appear to be violating the protesters' constitutional
Naro noted that when the Boston Police union was planning to protest at
the DNC over a contract dispute with Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, "there
was no talk of putting them into a free-speech zone. It's the people with the
guns who get to have free speech."
On Tuesday, a sole, potbellied protester shouted into a microphone on a
makeshift stage provided by the city. Right-to-lifers also crashed the place
and covered the area with anti-abortion slogans, thinking the area would see
more foot traffic.
But audience members, who have been almost exclusively reporters and
photographers, must stand in the line of sight of the loudspeakers mounted
along the steel beams overhead. Delegates on the other side of the fence will
have a hard time hearing anything.
The Black Tea Society, an anarchist group, as well as the National
Lawyers Guild and the American Civil Liberties Union, have all sued to either
uncage the free-speech zone, or move it closer to the delegates. But all of
those efforts failed, and "the fence stays," said Boston Police
Department spokeswoman Beverly Ford.
Anarchists are also wary of being tracked by the cameras mounted in the
cage. Most have gotten the message, through wireless text messaging, websites
and word of mouth, to avoid the cage and the surrounding Boston
Police-patrolled "soft zone," which is immediately outside the
"hard zone," an area controlled by the uniformed division of the
Cameras, monitored in Washington, D.C., by the Department of Homeland
Security, can be seen on many street corners in the soft zone.
Protesters will thus be scarce through the soft zone.
"The word is to avoid any area that is fenced in," said Naro.
A demonstrator is
subdued by police during a protest near the FleetCenter Thursday, July 29,
2004 in Boston. The final day of the Democratic National Convention brought
the first confrontation between police and protesters. Several hundred
demonstrators converged in an area on Canal Street -- near the FleetCenter but
outside of the fenced-in 'free speech zone.' (AP Photo/Patricia McDonnell)
Boston Police Deal With DNC Protesters
By ADAM GORLICK, Associated Press Writer
BOSTON - After three days of calm,
protests turned ugly at the Democratic National Convention as
demonstrators burned a two-faced effigy depicting President Bush (news
sites) on one side and Sen. John Kerry (news
sites) on the other.
One protester wearing a black hood was dragged from the crowd and
detained by police. It was not immediately clear whether he was being
arrested or what he had done. Streets near the FleetCenter were being
barricaded by police.
Police and protesters alike worked to keep the demonstrations
peaceful Thursday, despite warnings that some groups might use
violence to capture the attention of the large audience on the last
day of the convention.
After four problem-free days, police prepared for a surge in
spontaneous street protests. The Boston-area Bl(A)ck Tea Society, an
ad hoc group of self-described anarchists and anti-authority activists
that formed a year ago to stage protests at the convention, called for
"decentralized direct action" Thursday.
The group does not advocate violence but encourages demonstrators
to hold street protests regardless of whether they have secured
permits from the city.
Bl(A)ck Tea members joined with anti-war groups in a march that
began in Copley Square shortly after noon and quickly grew into the
largest demonstration since thousands of anti-war and anti-abortion
protesters greeted delegates on Sunday as they arrived in the city.
The crowd, estimated at around 400 people, looped through the
city's Financial District before heading toward the FleetCenter. They
were accompanied by about 100 police officers wearing helmets and
carrying shields. Seven protesters with hoods tied themselves to a
When they arrived outside the fenced-in demonstration zone near the
FleetCenter, the protesters set fire to a two-faced effigy — one
side showing Bush, the other Kerry. As it burned, the protesters
stomped on the puppet, while others burned copies of Bush's
Boston Police Commissioner Kathleen O'Toole ordered police tactical
teams out in force Thursday, as they have been throughout the week.
State police Lt. Col. Jack Kelly said Thursday's police deployment
was the biggest in recent Boston history.
DREAMS OF THE GREAT EARTHCHANGES