BOSTON--Some 400 protestors gathered in the early, gray dawn at Government Center yesterday to protest the United States attack on Iraq.
Hundreds of partially soaked citizens, many of whom were taking the day off from work, greeted morning commuters emerging from the Government Center MBTA subway stop. The crowd appeared to be a loose coalition of groups. Some showed intense anti-American sentiment while others called for supporting American troops.
Approximately 100 Boston police were on hand to control the crowd. But by 9 a.m., about 40 of the motorcycle offices were given orders to leave, as the crowd was smaller than expected.
"Why aren't there thousands of people out here?" asked Daniel Solomon, a protester from Jamaica Plain.
As some demonstrators listened to speeches, others gathered around the doors of the John F. Kennedy (JFK) Federal Building. Shouting. "Take the day off, no business as usual," the crowd attempted to keep federal workers from entering the JFK building.
Elissa Grad, an attorney from Watertown, said she was planning to participate in the civil disobedience and added, "All of us feel we have to put our bodies on the line."
Police responded by setting up metal barricades to keep protesters from the doors and allowing only workers with proper identification to enter.
Several small groups of protestors, ten or so at a time, attempted to block the narrow gauntlet though which the workers were entering the building. They did this by sitting down in tightly packed groups and holding hands.
The police seemed to be trying to avoid making arrests, and countered the civil disobedience by simply moving the police barricades so the people were just sitting on the ground blocking nothing.
"We're being outflanked," said Solomon.
When the police moved the barricades, they had to physically push back a large crowd that had gathered to watch the protestors. No one seemed hurt.
The police arrested several dozen protesters, including two Harvard undergraduates--Benjamin E. Wizner '93 and Paul N. Gailiunas '92.
Other Harvard students at the demonstation said they were surprised more Harvard students did not participate. Lily Shapiro '93 said she only saw about six Harvard students, all Adams House residents.
Although organizers of the demonstration had distributed fliers around campus by midnight Wednesday, Lauren Gwin '93 said that many Harvard students probably still did not know about the protest.