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Boston: A Breeding Ground for Protests

Highlighting recent protests in Boston.

By Sophia Spiegel

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It has been almost 250 years since 342 chests of tea were dumped into the city’s harbor, but the Bostonian spirit for political advocacy is still alive and well. With activism at the core of the city’s identity, Boston has sustained a reputation for cultivating a hotbed of liberal progressivism.

From its 19th-century outcry of support for the abolition to women’s rights movements, to 2004, when it became the first major city with legalized same-sex marriage, Boston is notorious for championing causes for change. However, even after a controversial ordinance limiting protests in private neighborhoods was passed by the Boston City Council, rallies have continued to flood the city’s public spaces in recent months.

In late September, Extinction Rebellion Boston protesters stopped traffic, quite literally, in support of their cause. This environmental group is committed to nonviolent action against the government’s response, or lack thereof, to the climate crisis. Towards the end of September, climate activists planned to block four of Boston’s busiest roadways during the peak of morning rush hour to urge state lawmakers to prohibit new fossil-fuel hookups. As a result, fifteen demonstrators were arrested for disorderly conduct, trespassing, and conspiracy to commit a crime.

“This is a climate emergency, and we are sorry for the inconvenience, but we are just sleepwalking into disaster,” said Extinction Rebellion in Boston spokesperson, Susan Lemont.

Soon after, Bostonians were moved by events overseas when news of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini’s death shocked the world. After being placed in custody for the “improper” wearing of the mandatory Islamic hijab, Amini died at the hands of the Iranian morality police. On Saturday, October 1st, hundreds gathered in Boston Common to demonstrate their support for the revolt against the Iranian government.

Demonstrations continued around Boston as the crisis in Iran escalated. On November 5, Independent Iranians of Boston organized a protest in front of the Boston Public Library, where activists held signs and shouted rally cries to support the revolution. The event also included a performance by the Aftaab Dance group.

In a city as diverse as Boston, it is not uncommon for protests advocating for different causes to take place on the same day. On October 8, the Global Day of Action, dozens linked arms across Harvard Bridge, chanting “Women, Life, Freedom” protesting the Iranian government, while hundreds marched from the Massachusetts State House to Quincy Market campaigning for abortion rights that same day.

In anticipation of the midterm elections, the Women’s March organized the Women’s Wave 2022 nationwide protest, a series of national rallies unifying over the endorsement of pro-choice candidates. In Boston, the march was met with a crowd of pro-life counterprotesters, where the clashing groups engaged in a short, peaceful showdown of rival viewpoints.

This cosmopolitan environment, rife with innovation and creativity, serves as a breeding ground for protests of all different natures. While the aid of advanced technology and social media has amplified the productivity of demonstrations since the 18th century, the civic spirit of the Boston Tea Party still rings true today.


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