by Steve Gillis
Vice-President, Steelworkers Local 8751 - Boston School Bus Drivers
April 14 — The corporate media may give it a different spin, but for
Palin and Wall Street’s Tea Party, Boston was a bust.
Boston, Arpil 14.
Photos: Maureen Skehan
The day started with immediate tension as Bail Out the People Movement
activists and the mostly Haitian-origin staff of Steelworkers Local 8751
unfurled their banner in the middle of the Tea Party’s rally here
The banner read: “Union jobs & healthcare for all! Stop the pro-war,
racist, sexist, anti-LGBT Palin/Tea Party attack!” At Boston’s Park
Street subway station on Boston Common in the heart of downtown, the
anti-racists were immediately surrounded by screaming white men, some wearing
hardhats and carrying U.S. flags. Police dressed for battle looked on, smiling
at the Tea Party gang.
Steelworkers Local 8751 school bus drivers.
Overcoming their hesitation, the anti-racists got out the bullhorns and took
the racist forces on politically. They said that unions are in favor of free
healthcare for all people and want a government-sponsored jobs program for all
of our millions of unemployed sisters and brothers.
Within minutes, passersby were stopping to say, “Right on!” Some
asked for signs and joined us for awhile. The red-faced white guys with signs
reading something about “Tread on me” gradually took off, muttering
For 20 minutes the anti-racists took turns talking into the loudspeakers,
telling the truth about the corporate-sponsored Tea Party. They told how Tea
Party followers had spit on the Congressional Black Caucus in Washington, D.C.,
a few weeks ago, hurling racist epithets at Rep. John Lewis, a hero of the
Civil Rights Movement. They told how Tea Party members vomited anti-gay
invectives at Rep. Barney Frank.
Class program wins support
The anti-racists made it clear that what the union movement supports is
government-sponsored healthcare for all people. It wants a massive program of
job creation for public projects to put all people back to productive work to
support their families. By then, their ranks had tripled.
A young woman who’s been leading Friday night cypher youth discussions at
the BOPM office showed up and took over the banner. Veterans for Peace
activists joined with their flags. Some college students came with signs
denouncing homophobia and Tea Party bigotry. It was hugs all around when a
transgendered activist stopped on his way to the statehouse to demand
transgender inclusion in anti-discrimination legislation. Thousands of
thumbs-up and vocal support from folks on the street emboldened the group to
march in the line of Tea Party dupes toward the stage.
The multimillion-dollar, multimedia outdoor stage was surrounded by TV trucks
and a police cordon. When the nearly 100 protesters reached the stage
perimeter, anti-racist organizers hooked up a more powerful mobile sound unit
and started a program of speakers and chanting.
Special Operations police forces soon shut it down, with threats of arrests for
permit violations and complaints that the Tea Party speakers couldn’t be
heard over the noise. A young Asian woman activist from the Coalition for
Equal, Quality Education urged protesters to march. They began moving through
the outskirts of the crowd, discovering hundreds of people who had come to
oppose the racists.
The bullhorns went back on. The march began snaking through the lemonade and
pretzel stands where people were selling hate literature, buttons and T-shirts
at tables paid for by Wall Street contributions. Plenty of middle fingers,
spittle-covered curses, shoves, blocks, taunts and ear-splitting whistles from
red-faced haters greeted the anti-racists, whose numbers continued to
There were a few thousand in the Tea Party crowd, not the 10,000 to 20,000
predicted by Fox, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and the front page of the Boston
Herald. Still, many Tea Party opponents stayed on the sidelines in silent
protest, perhaps fearing the increasingly agitated and violent reactions of the
Sarah Palin-inspired haters. The master of ceremonies announced Palin’s
entrance for what was to be a vicious anti-immigrant speech.
Action disrupts Palin’s delivery
Just then, the marching protesters reached a critical, determined mass, and
took a left into the crowd, pick-and-rolling around the police line, directly
toward stage right. As Palin opened her vitriol, the people on the move
chanted, “Racist, sexist, anti-gay, Palin/Tea Party go away!” while
fending off punches, kicks, body blocks and other violence.
Not 20 yards from the stage, completely surrounded by and face to face with
screaming, violent Tea Partiers, the anti-racists were able to keep their
formation moving and message blaring, with the people’s union security
fending off the blows and pushing forward, until the bigots erupted with
whistles and unison booing.
Palin appeared dumbfounded, standing there for the longest time speechless and
wide-eyed in front of the corporate media, perhaps gazing over the horizon to
The protestors fought their way back to the perimeter. There were hundreds of
young women and lesbian, gay, bi and trans anti-Tea Party people in that part
of the crowd. They cheered the marchers, who then started their own rally.
People took turns on the bullhorns, supporting a woman’s right to choose,
denouncing U.S. wars and occupations, and declaring homophobia a crime. Others
carried placards against the Afghan war, and a large blue banner reading
“Tea Party = Racism” was on display. Protesters, who numbered in
the hundreds, were visible throughout the crowd.
The protest was a step forward for people ready to fight the capitalist
system’s tricks, diversions and violent organizational maneuvers to
maintain its dominance over the vast majority of the world’s working and