About 25 activists protested the U.S. military presence in the Persian Gulf yesterday afternoon by simulating death, blocking rush hour traffic in Harvard Square and placing stickers on the window of an armed forces recruiting station.
Chanting, "We won't die for the price of gas, Uncle Sam go kiss my ass," the demonstrators marched through the streets of Harvard Square for more than an hour. They then proceeded along Mass. Ave. into Central Square, where they showed drivers their anti-intervention signs and banners, including "Yankee gangsters invade the Middle East for passing motorists."
In their most dramatic action, the protesters held a macabre "die-in" at the corner of John F. Kennedy and Mt. Auburn Sts. As some demonstrators carrying banners prevented cars from entering the intersection, members of the group dressed in plastic "body bags" took up positions in the middle of the street.
Then, as some protesters loudly counted down and others made the sound of incoming shells, the activists plunged to the blacktop, writhing in an efort to simulate the agony of exposure to chemical and nerve agents.
Minutes later, as the group marched up JFK St. towards the Square, an impatient driver tried to drive through the crowd. As the car advanced, a protest organizer announced its license plate number over a megaphone and stated that the man almost ran him over.
The protesters said their defiant tactics were necessary to convey the urgency of the situation.
"In order to stop this war effort, people are going to have to do a wide variety of disruptive things," said Fred W. Greenpea, 36, a tour guide and former Harvard extension school student.
A protest organizer, who identified himself as a member of the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade, said that the group included a wide variety of people holding diverse political views. The organizer, Karl Adam, said he was opposed to the U.S. presence in the Gulf because of a desire to "overthrow this whole program of U.S. imperialism and capitalism."
Most bystanders interviewed by The Crimson reacted positively to the demonstration. "It was very brave," said Tufts junior J. Tieder, adding, "Not many people are behind this sort of movement." As the group of protestersmarched down Church St., workers in nearby shopstook note, pressing their noses to the windowglass to catch a glimpse of the anti-interventionparade.
"They're making their point," said Christian M.Sullivan, 17, a student at Cambridge Rindge andLatin School.
But Sullivan's fellow student, who identifiedhimself as John H. Smith, 16, had a differentopinion. "If I had a car, I'd run them over too,if they blocked my way. They ought to be a littlesmarter and walk on the sidewalks," Smith said.
The group drew stares from passers-by andoccasional toots of support from motorists as theyproceeded down the middle of Brattle St., snarlingholiday traffic.
"Hell no, we won't go," the group of about 25protesters chanted as it turned onto Mt. AuburnSt., where some demonstrators donned plastic bodybags. Adam told the group through a batteredmegaphone that 35,000 real body bags had beenshipped to the Gulf in anticipation of U.S.casualties. He later claimed that the U.S.military has ordered 135,000 body bags inpreparation for a Middle East war.
The protesters soon returned to the Square,where they held one of the afternoon's three"die-ins."
"This could happen any day in the Gulf," anarrator told the crowd, adding that suchdevastation could be seen in the U.S. as well, ifnuclear weapons are used.