From the South Coast to Lowell, we showed up when you shouted. Here are a few highlights, including some actions that received less attention than others in 2020 …
New Year’s revolution
Outrage and frustration shut down the first Cannabis Control Commission meeting of 2020. Last Thursday’s CCC meeting brought the new year in with a bang. There was a feeling of dread in the room, even before the commissioners gaveled in proceedings. All five did not seem upbeat or cheerful, which was a noticeable shift in tone. -Erving Jean-Jacques
On Thursday afternoon in North Dartmouth, we and dozens of other drivers packed the parking lot of a local pharmacy. We weren’t there for coronavirus testing or supplies, but to prepare for a mass protest. Arriving on the scene, a police officer turned to a pharmacy employee and snapped, “They just showed up and took over the parking lot?”
The disgust in his voice was jarring. We were gathered in solidarity with the 52 people detained by ICE at the nearby Bristol County Corrections Center. Targeted and rounded up on the basis of their race and migration status, these individuals are trapped as the coronavirus rips through the state. The crowded conditions of the jail threaten their lives, but it was a crowded parking lot that disgusted the officer? -Aine Aweetnam + Caroline Sprague
First of many
Hundreds of people attended a peaceful candlelight vigil on JFK Plaza in Lowell last night for George Floyd, a black man who was killed earlier in the week as a result of a violent confrontation with Minneapolis police. Outrage over the killing turned Minneapolis upside down, and sparked demonstrations nationwide.
City officials exploded in anger at each other Wednesday, with the police commissioner and city councillors accusing each other of disrespect and lies over the redirection of some proposed police funding toward human services. At the height of the argument, the mayor felt forced to call a 10-minute recess so people could calm down. -Marc Levy (in partnership with Cambridge Day)
When student Anthony Araujo-Amaral received a phone call from his art mentor, David Fichter, asking him if he wanted to participate in making art for Black Lives Matter protests, he knew that the work they created could reflect the perspective of the movement. Several weeks ago, Fichter recruited young artists to join him in his studio to design vibrant paintings and portraits, believing that the protests could use some more dynamic visual language.
“David supplied us with foam core, which is very lightweight, but it’s also very durable, in case it would rain. We used acrylic paint, and I used my computer to look up some references,” said Araujo-Amaral. “I put a quote on the back, ‘You can jail a revolutionary, but you can’t jail the revolution.’” -Shira Laucharoen
Boston demonstrators rallying in solidarity with “Justice for Jacob” actions across the country met in Nubian Square on Sunday, then marched through Roxbury and Dorchester picking up allies along the route.
Bringing messages related to the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin that has reenergized Black Lives Matter groups and redirected media attention back to the issue of police violence, activists used the pleasant weather to cover a lot of ground. From Nubian Square, marchers took their signs and bullhorns to Franklin Park, where calls for justice continued. Following the march, which was organized by the Party for Socialism and Liberation in Boston, some remaining participants set up a fire pit and held a peaceful vigil with speeches and music. -Annie Bennett
For basic income
Researcher James Blake Murphy also spoke at the event, commenting, “Basic income recognizes people as people.” State Sen. Jamie Eldridge added that basic income “is not just about income equality. It’s about improving the quality of life for all Americans.” The UBI advocates hope to unite Americans around the idea of regular money being given to citizens, without needing to work to pay for basic necessities. State Rep. Carol Doherty said that those fighting are “building a movement of ordinary, working people. Not for them, but with them.” -Annie Bennett
2020 Women’s March
A group of young activists assembled this year’s Women’s March in front of the State House, with hundreds coming out to protest the Trump’s administration’s appointment of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, as well as gender inequality among other issues. Madisyn Bozarth, a 22-old marketing coordinator for the event and a student at Emerson College, said, “I’m really excited about Kamala Harris … Just seeing a woman of color at the vice-presidential debate was one of the most amazing things.”
Boston City Councilwoman and mayoral contender Michelle Wu spoke in solidarity with the young organizers: “I am here to support this amazing group of activists,” Wu said. “[This] coalition is standing up for our democracy.” -Annie Bennett