Demonstration season kicked off on Beacon Hill today. Gadflies and activists didn't swarm just to support black leaders who organized the streetside press conference in support of union workers – they were rallying to signify that warm weather will surely bring ramped up protests against those who threaten human rights everywhere.
With Wisconsin on their minds and Egypt in their guts, about 100 people crowded the Statehouse stairs this morning. They weren't happy; with devastating news from Madison still in the air, voices from more than a dozen groups including Mass Vote, Jobs With Justice, and the Massachusetts Teachers Association lashed out at union-busting right-wingers and talk radio motherfuckers.
“My community worked too hard to give it all up now,” said Horace Small, executive director of the Union of Minority Neighborhoods (UMN). Added Kelly Bates, executive director of Access Strategies Fund: “The unions have been there for black communities...I refuse to be a part of this movement that says public school teachers are the problem with the school system.”
Coming from across the river, MIT associate professor of urban politics J. Phillip Thompson emphasized the contextual significance of anti-worker sentiment that's bubbling across the country. “This is not just an attack on labor unions,” said Thompson, who framed the larger nefarious conspiracy to level middle class America.
After a half hour of speeches, including words from state senators Sonia Chang-Diaz and Jamie Eldrige, UMN organizer Small foreshadowed what's to come: “We're not going to give up...if this asshole [Republican state rep Dan Winslow, who filed a bill similar to that in Wisconsin] brings this bill to this building, we're going to run him to Rhode Island.”
“This isn't March,” said Jobs With Justice executive director Russ Davis. “It's marching season.”