“I’m sick of saying [Black people] climb a ladder, which we not only built, but on top of that ladder is a white man, ”one of the speakers said at the protest on Wednesday evening. “And that white man makes it easier for us to climb up to a height.”
More than 100 young people gathered on the grass of Nubian Square, directly in front of the Boston Police Department. Protesters had gathered to “defend our democracy” against the political establishment and voice a variety of concerns, including what they said was the rhetoric spat by President Donald J. Trump during the election.
Less than 24 hours before the protest and while the ballots were still being counted in several key states, Trump announced that “as far as I’m concerned” he won. He also has accused the Democrats, without any proof, that they are trying to “steal” the elections. In a speech at the White House on election night, he declared victory.
Ernst Jenn-Jacques addressed the crowd in the plaza and listed all the concerns he and others have recorded. These issues included: state violence, the struggle for indigenous sovereignty, global warming, racial issues, immigration and economic disparities. The crowd cheered and around 8 p.m. Jenn-Jacques motioned for people to start heading towards Copley Square.
He stressed to protesters that despite their mistrust of the police, the march through the streets of Boston is a peaceful protest and that everyone should refrain from engaging with law enforcement.
The organization of the event was well thought out with various tasks assigned to members of the 10 organizations present at the rally.
The 10 groups involved in the protest were: Freedom Fighters Coalition, Socialist Alternative, North American Indian Center of Boston, Sunrise Movement, Solidarity: North Shore, Blue Crime Blue Dime, Democratic Socialists of America, North-eastern Young Democratic Socialists of America, Strike Boston and New Democracy Coalition.
Some people in the crowd of protesters wore green ribbon wrapped around their legs or arms to signify that they are “peacekeepers”. Their task was to defuse any problem that might arise by separating out any troublemakers who might have attended the protest.
Then there were the marshals who all wore high visibility vests and rode their bikes in front of the main body of the people to stop the traffic and steer the assembly in the right direction.
Jenn-Jacques climbed into the back of a pickup as she walked down Washington Street, with a microphone, starting chants for the crowd to speak.
“This is what democracy looks like,” was one of the many mantras echoed by the crowd during the march. Some chants were aimed specifically at the president.
The precession turned onto Dartmouth Street where a couple watched while holding the small dogs they took for an evening walk. They told MassLive in passing that they fully supported the protest and the reasons why the young people took to the streets.
“I can’t believe half the people in this country agree with racism and bigotry,” the man said. The woman nodded and motioned to the passing crowd.
The owner of the Richdale grocery stores at 130 Dartmouth Street had barricaded his windows with wood to prevent any potential damage from occurring if the protest turned ugly. Unfortunately, it has experienced looting in the past.
On June 9, a series of area stores were looted after the peaceful protests calling for justice for George Floyd ended. The owner, who asked that his name not be released, saw some of his windows smashed so that rioters could access them and steal items. He was determined that this would not happen again.
About an hour after the protesters left Nubian Square, they arrived on the steps of the Boston Public Library where a series of speakers took the mike and voiced concerns for the country’s future. They are particularly concerned about racial disparities and see the two political parties equally suspicious.
“Let me repeat to you that Democrats and Republicans are the same oppressor with a different face,” Yaritza Dedley said. “The only difference between Democrats and Republicans is that Democrats smile as they rip the knife through your body and your hopes for a better future.”
Dedley almost echoed Malcolm X’s sentiment about white liberals and his disdain for them by saying that they are “more dangerous than the conservatives.”
She warned that young people who listen should not be fooled by politicians on both sides of the political spectrum. She said the system was fundamentally broken and regardless of who wins the election, economic, racial and healthcare disparities will always be present.
Another speaker called on all minorities to come forward in front of the crowd. He said, as Dedley had done, that his message was specifically for them and that they should listen to it.
Of the crowd, about a third were minorities. Dedley had a message to the white protesters who had come out in solidarity and concerned about the future of the country.
“So to the white liberals in this space,” Dedley said. As you grab brunch and take selfies in your LL Bean boots in the snow, as we marginalized peers rightfully fight for their lives during the global pandemic, just try to remind yourself that some of the between us do not have the chance to forget our activism.