Recruiters shut down in Boston

August 13, 2008

BOSTON--An antiwar protest successfully shut down the Armed Forces Career Center here on August 2 before a single person showed up to demonstrate. Just the advertisement and organizing efforts for the protest forced the center, heavily guarded by Boston police, to close for the day.

The demonstration, which grew in size to more than 200, was called by the University of Massachusetts (UMass)-Boston Antiwar Coalition (a chapter of the Campus Antiwar Network, or CAN), and reached out to organizations including Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) Boston, Veterans for Peace, the International Socialist Organization, the Stop the Wars Coalition, Socialist Alternative and the American Friends Service Committee.

Through flyering, tabling efforts and Internet organizing, the protest attracted new young activists, including students from UMass-Amherst and Newton South High School. For many, this was their first protest.

Not even the small number of counterprotesters or police intimidation could stop the energy and message of the two-hour picket: Recruiters are not welcome in Boston, bring the troops home, and money for education, not for war.

"We have the tools of history on our side. The government responds to change when we demand it," said Meagan Day, a member of UMass-Boston CAN.

High school student Jessica Mitter was visiting Boston for the day with three friends when they saw the protest. "We were bused up here from our summer program at Brown University. When we saw the protest, we had to join in. I'd much rather do this than go shopping," said Mitter, who has her own political radio show in her home town of College Station, Texas.

"This is the first demonstration I've seen in Boston in nine months," said one passerby who joined in. "We need to do this every weekend."

This was the first demonstration organized by the UMass CAN chapter, which is now heading into the fall with a renewed sense of urgency and a focus to build activities like teach-ins, a divestment campaign, and an October 11 demonstration on the Boston Common.

Mike Spinnato, a member of IVAW and CAN, and one of the organizers of the protest, spoke at the closing rally. "I will resist at all costs. If they call me back I'm not going to go. I will never go quietly. I'm not afraid of their jails," said Spinnato. "It's the people that are going to make the change. Not the elected officials."

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