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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

I am still writing this story - but these pictures need to be out there NOW. This is what the city of Boston considers the "Free Speech Zone". It is as close as demonstrators can get to Fleet Center where the delegates and politicians will be gathering for the democratic process of nominating the Democratic candidates for president and vice-president and agreeing to a platform. Let the photos speak for themselves until I can find the words to describe how I felt seeing this.
I am still writing this story - but these pictures need to be out there NOW. This is what the city of Boston considers the "Free Speech Zone". It is as close as demonstrators can get to Fleet Center where the delegates and politicians will be gathering for the democratic process of nominating the Democratic candidates for president and vice-president and agreeing to a platform. Let the photos speak for themselves until I can find the words to describe how I felt seeing this.


How do I describe the sense of dread that crawled under my skin as I observed that there were only two entrance/exits to this long narrow cage enclosed with two chain link fences, covered with a mesh net, topped with two rolls of razor wire...

It's both the gift and the curse of a writer or artist, to feel life's experiences so intensely that words, or music or brush strokes flow from us without effort as that experience is transformed into a tangible sharing of our experience. But words do not flow this morning They didn't come to me last night either, and so I sought out the catharsis of the companionship of people who would understand, in the dorm hall kitchen here at Emmanuel College where I'm staying with the Kucinich delegates and volunteers this week.

Their company and a night of sleep haven't released my muse. But these are words that must be written, even if eloquence escapes me.

Earlier last evening, I'd been sitting on a subway, returning from a day at the Boston Social Forum, where I'd attended two excellent panel discussions about the Iraq war and the growing peace movement. It wasn't so much what was said at these events that had lifted my spirits as it was the pleasure of being around thousands of people who shared my passion for peace and freedom and had defied the fear mongering and back-room scheming that had been served up to discourage our participation in the democratic process this coming week. To spend time surrounded with these eclectic and astute people was reenergizing, and while none of the speakers offered easy or quick solutions, they reassured me that the world is peopled with enough empowered intelligence to turn things around. Buoyed with a rekindled hope for our future, I'd chatted happily with the passengers on the train about the Tee-shirt I was wearing - the one with the cartoon that says "Move your Ass to the Left, Please."

Instead of returning to the campus where I'm staying for the week, I was going to go see the area I'd been hearing about that had been designated as a "free speech zone". For those readers who haven't participated in a protest since 9/11, these designated areas where protesting at major events is supposed to be confined, are Homeland Security's solution to crowd control. Try to remember, as I continue this essay, that our Bill of Rights guarantees us Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Assembly.

In the interest of security, the subway station near the Fleet Center is closed, so I took the "T" as far as Government Center and would walk the rest of the way. There was already a noticeable increase in security in the station since I'd taken the train earlier in the day. Groups of two or three cops were standing everywhere and national guardsmen were positioned at the turnstiles. My brain cells that store the "FTAA protest in Miami experience" were starting to awaken and the euphoria from being at the Boston Social Forum was quickly waning.

When I emerged from the subway station (called a T-Stop here in Boston), a few blocks before me was Faneuil (rhymes with "Daniel") Hall. I'd been to an event in this historic meeting hall the previous evening for a program sponsored by Veterans for Peace. In the same place where Samuel Adams had once spoken passionately against the injustices of the British Empire's control of the colonies, modern patriots, Daniel Ellsberg and Howard Zinn had decried with equal eloquence the emerging American empire agenda for war without end or justification, fueled with the lives of our soldiers.

One couldn't miss the grand painting above the stage, depicting Daniel Webster on the floor of the Senate, in a now famous debate with Senator Hayne in 1830, where he argued for two days that our Constitution was not a mere agreement of states, but a compact of the American people guaranteeing freedom. His words, "Liberty and Union, now and forever!" are carved boldly beneath the frame. "How ironic," I'd thought when I read those words. There we were in the building know as the "Cradle of Liberty" where almost 250 years ago the case for Liberty was argued well enough to inspire a revolution. But despite Webster's words 175 years ago, liberty and union cannot be assumed to be ours -- not now and certainly not forever. Instead, it is the case for freedom that must be argued by patriots of every generation, both "now and forever," because without vigilance, there will always be those who will steal it away.

There was a better dressed crowd hanging about in the area beyond Faneuil Hall known as the Haymarket, than those at the Boston Social Forum back at University of Massachusetts. Concerns about freedom and peace didn't seem to be on their minds. A group had gathered around a magician who was performing tricks with a little boy. There was a festive, party atmosphere. The police presence was far more discrete among these tourists and revelers. I noted some of the pubs and restaurants in the area, thinking that after I took my photos I'd treat myself to a nice dinner before returning to put together CPR4Democracy. But I have to admit I felt out of place and the response to my Tee-shirt in this crowd wasn't one of approval.

It wasn't as simple to find the "Free Speech Zone" as it seemed. I'd asked several groups of police along the way for directions, and they were all friendly and helpful, but... well maybe it's just my imagination that the directions that finally got me there were from a helpful civilian passerby. It's no wonder I couldn't find the spot, it's so well hidden. There is absolutely no way that anyone would see anything happening in this area. There are no open streets where cars can drive by. There are no sidewalks where people would walk by. Nervously, I walked past a group of cops standing at an opening in a fence, thinking that I would see the assigned area somewhere else and then realized that I was already standing within it.

I can't begin to describe my horror being in this place. The same government that calls the law that gives polluters free reign to pollute, the "Clear Skies Act" and calls the justification for us to terrorize the world, the "War on Terror" has the audacity to call this concentration-camp type holding pen a 'Free Speech Zone"! The first thing that came to my mind was the chant often sung at protest rallies, "Tell me what democracy looks like. This is what democracy looks like."

Now I am at the part of this essay that I can't bring myself to write. How do I describe the sense of dread that crawled under my skin as I observed that there were only two entrance/exits to this long narrow cage enclosed with two chain link fences, covered with a mesh net, topped with two rolls of razor wire. Let me tell you what came to my mind the moment I realized where I was standing: If something terrible were to happen while this area was full of demonstrators - something as simple as someone yelling "fire" or something as sinister as the release of a chemical agent - there would be no way to escape. Let me repeat this - there would be no way to escape. No way to escape! This is not an accident.

I cannot describe the physical aspects of this abomination of our democracy without crying. Rather, I've posted the photos on my website for you to see for yourself at  http://www.cpr4democracy.com/TheBostonCage1.cfm. After you see these photos, I pose this question to you, my fellow Americans, "Why would anyone agree to voluntarily place themselves in this enclosure?"

Who paid for this? Who approved it? Who imagined that those of us who are smart enough to see through the treachery of our current government, would actually submit to being confined here? Are we criminals for voicing our opinion? That's the not-so-subliminal message being sent here. If the media were to actually film a demonstration in this pen, would we not look like criminals to anyone seeing us on TV? "Beware, this is what will happen to you if you dare to question the system."

In my well of emotional experiences, the closest I can come to describing the gut wrenching shock that gripped me in this cage is being brokenhearted. I love my country. I love her enough that I have dedicated the rest of my life to her care and wellbeing. But my country doesn't love me back. She has betrayed me with lies and doublespeak.

I walked up to the police that were standing at the entrance and introduced myself as a journalist. "I was wondering if you could tell me your feelings about this enclosure," I asked them. They looked like they could be my neighbors, a guy sitting next to me on the train, the fathers of my nieces' friends... One cop said that they were not permitted to say anything while they were in uniform. Ah yes, I thought, they've already relinquished their freedom of speech.

"I was just wondering, maybe... as a fellow human being, as a fellow American... as a Bostonian... aren't you ashamed?" I asked. I know I shouldn't have said that. They are just doing their job. I should keep my big mouth shut. I should be willing to only speak my mind when caged in barbed wire, out of the public eye, where no one can hear me, or see me cry.

I walked back to the T-stop, past pubs where everyday working people were drinking beer and watching the Red Sox game on TV screens above the bar. Would they even notice the difference when this country is no longer a democracy? Will they continue to believe that clear skies and free speech still exist, here in the Cradle of Liberty? What difference does it make, as long as their team wins.



It will be an exercise in crowd management 25.Jul.2004 18:27


I wish I could find it... I ran across an article the other day where someone in the Homeland Security Gestapo said that the need to control crowds or curb aggressive behavior, should be with prozac added to the water. No joke... these sickos are actually talking controlling crowds and refugees at food drops with anti-depressants or other drugs to pacify agression.

I would not be surprised if this may be a test. The Army used the Branch Davidians for testing... this was also to see how outraged Americans would be at charring citizens and calling in the Army to burn and kill. We flunked by no outrage. So they are moving in...

I have a strong suspicion that this is also a test... how willing will we be to enter into the cages? How can prozac be administered? Will the American people put up with this level of violation of the first Amendment or will we start to tell the bastards enough is enough? With the funding of the torture school in America, we have hell coming our way.

I hope no one shows up. Do a demonstration in the neighboring city... REFUSE TO BE CAGED. The irony of it all is many American drones really think we are bringing freedom to the middle east, and they hate us because we are free.

I think Orwell is turning over in his grave.

holy shit 25.Jul.2004 19:13


I fully expect there to be brutal repression there, away from the eyes of the world. If noone sees it, it doesn't happen.

Personally, I thought they couldn't top what happened in Miami last year (CNN showing that one runway where Michael Jackson would be arriving... for hours on end, ignoring the breaking of heads by police). Of course, that's underestimating their capacity for doing harm.

This is what America looks like 25.Jul.2004 19:20


Thanks for the photos. A few blocks away from Faneuil Hall is Old South Meeting house at the corner of Milk St & Washington. Across the street from that is Ben Franklin's Grave it is easy to find it is the one with the spinning corpse.

Give'n hell and don't let the SOB's grind you down. After this show and the one in New York we need to decide what to do with the land between Canada and Mexico.

This is what America looks like show the World, The Bush / Kerry ticket is THE threat to world peace. America's two party system, Bush / Kerry or Kerry / Bush.

When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people...

They can top Miami 25.Jul.2004 20:43


Oh, they can top Miami, folk. Looks to me like we're heading for an instant replay of Kent State. And unfortunately, if you read history, you will believe that it can get worse from there. Yes, it's hard to believe this is the country that pretends to celebrate free thought and expression.

Unfortunately... 25.Jul.2004 21:03


The founding fathers would probably nod their heads in approval. They sometimes did much worse when the working class rose up against them for their lies and alterior motives in revolting against England. They forced poor people to fight in a revolution that didn't benefit them or face death from the militia. They forced them to pay for their own guns that they didn't want to use. Then they denied their pay that they promised. Then they took away their land. Then they sent many of them to debtors prison because they owed money for the weapons that they didn't want. When the People rose up against the tyranny of Samuel Adams, Ben Franklin, George Washington and all those good old fashioned wealthy fascists(chanting, "Tyranny is tyranny, let it come from whom it may!"), they slaughtered them and George Washington ordered the survivors to shoot their own "leaders" or die with them to "teach them a lesson". Please read "A People's History Of The United States" by Howard Zinn. Democracy has been about the same ever since. Their was no good old days. Wake up everyone. It's been a long, hard hell but we can create a bright, new future if we really want.

Use their own cage against them 25.Jul.2004 21:28


Pictures of the "Free Speech Zone" have already appeared on mainstream news channels, and you can bet what goes on there will receive coverage. Instead of lamenting the oppressive policy, which many have compared to the cages at Guantanamo and a judge has already likened to something "worse than an internment camp," let's use it to our advantage. Instead of planning confrontation to avoid being penned in, let's enter willingly - wearing ORANGE PRISON JUMPSUITS. The sight of thousands of protestors locked behind police razor wire wearing prison garb would send a far more powerful message than any confrontation ever could.

Miami ^2 25.Jul.2004 23:55


A snippet from the above article:

"There is absolutely no way that anyone would see anything happening in this area. There are no open streets where cars can drive by. There are no sidewalks where people would walk by."

That's what I mean by topping Miami. If passers-by can't see what's going on, what's going to stop the police from disappearing protestors? Don't count on the news to report anything. They sit on footage all the time, showing 5 seconds of protest to 5 minutes of counter-protest.

No, I say stay away from the so-called "free speech zone". It's a trap.

For the Union Dead 26.Jul.2004 00:43

Robert Lowell, 1959

For the Union Dead

Robert Lowell, 1959

"Relinquunt Omnia Servare Rem Publicam"

The old South Boston Aquarium stands
in a Sahara of snow now. Its broken windows are boarded.
The bronze weathervane cod has lost half its scales.
The airy tanks are dry.

Once my nose crawled like a snail on the glass;
my hand tingled
to burst the bubbles
drifting from the noses of the cowed, compliant fish.

My hand draws back. I often sigh still
for the dark downward and vegetating kingdom
of the fish and reptile. One morning last March,
I pressed against the new barbed and galvanized

fence on the Boston Common . Behind their cage,
yellow dinosaur steamshovels were grunting
as the cropped up tons of mush and grass
to gouge their underworld garage .

Parking spaces luxuriate like civic
sandpiles in the heart of Boston.
A girdle of orange, Puritan-pumpkin colored girders
braces the tingling Statehouse,

shaking over the excavations, as it faces Colonel Shaw
and his bell-cheeked Negro infantry
on St. Gaudens' shaking Civil War relief ,
propped by a plank splint against the garage's earthquake.

Two months after marching through Boston,
half the regiment was dead;
at the dedication ,
William James could almost hear the bronze Negroes breathe.

Their monument sticks like a fishbone
in the city's throat.
Its Colonel is as lean
as a compass-needle.

He has an angry wrenlike vigilance,
a greyhound's gentle tautness;
he seems to wince at pleasure,
and suffocate for privacy.

He is out of bounds now. He rejoices in man's lovely,
peculiar power to choose life and die-
when he leads his black soldiers to death,
he cannot bend his back.

On a thousand small town New England greens,
the old white churches hold their air
of sparse, sincere rebellion; frayed flags
quilt the graveyards of the Grand Army of the Republic

The stone statues of the abstract Union Soldier
grow slimmer and younger each year-
wasp-waisted, the doze over muskets
and muse through their sideburns...

Shaw's father wanted no monument
except the ditch,
where his son's body was thrown
and lost with his "niggers."

The ditch is nearer.
There are no statues for the last war here;
on Boylston Street, a commercial photograph
shows Hiroshima boiling

over a Mosler Safe , the "Rock of Ages"
that survived the blast. Space is nearer.
When I crouch to my television set,
the drained faces of Negro school-children rise like balloons.

Colonel Shaw
is riding on his bubble,
he waits
for the blesséd break.

The Aquarium is gone. Everywhere,
giant finned cars nose forward like fish;
a savage servility
slides by on grease.

Speech is Free When They Hear You and They Have to Do Something About It! 26.Jul.2004 00:56

banderín negro

Well, brother and sister froggies, is the water starting to boil yet?

The Seattle N30/WTO model must move on, as thrilling as it was. It was symbolic, threw open a panorama of stirring, movement-galvanizing street theater, planted networks and it exposed the existence and breadth of awareness and resistance. The empire has contained that model of demonstration and its variants' potential and threat for organizing and bringing effective change for global justice and non-authoritarian, egalitarian democracy. The empire has moved, formed and sanctioned its agents and material and propaganda resources to polarize and strangle citizen self-determination. The individual is given to choose the Corpocracy feed lot or, by the empire's self-serving reckoning and sweeping definition, terrorism.

The white European settler elite, and its successors and assigns, in North America, have for over two hundred years perfected the array of loopholes, the labyrinth of process and made more and more exclusive, in the service of preserving the free-run planetary plunder and destruction proceding from the metastacized racist colonial plantation tumor, the possession and operation of the tools of self-determination, sequestered from the hands of the people themselves.




have thereby been systematically subverted, contained, smothered, disparaged, dismissed, smeared, slandered, libeled and rendered impotent and meaningless from their intended purposes within a community of free people.

The heirs and assigns of the white settler elite wrap themselves in the national sacred documents, concepts, institutions and symbols, elevating those instruments and artifacts to the status of "final perfection" of human society on the planet--indeed, the universe--and by association, then, attribute hallowdness to the decisions and acts they take to perform, increasingly in secret, with misrepresentation, imperial definition and vagueness, beyond the collective knowledge and consent of the people affected.

The power elite have defined freedom for their own benefit and perpetuation of their positions of dominance. They ascribe its "magic" properties for their own convenience, playing liberty off as the most environmentally and culturally destructive forms of banal and vacuous consumerism, to the detriment and withering of essential needs of a healthy, compassionate and wise society, reinforcing the notion that as long as enough of the underclasses get enough landfill fodder and have enough means to get it, the full meaning and completion of the lofty, transendental sentiments and goals of the sacred documents--The Declaration of Independence, The Bill of Rights and its encompassing charter, The U.S. Constitution--are being manifested.

The parliamentary and plebisciatary institutions have been corrupted and manipulated away from the interests and control of all of the people from nearly the beginning of U.S. independence from the European masters. But todays tightening of the screws on public and private assembly and speech, and present zealous efforts on a breathtakingly broad front toward crushing privacy and grassroots networking and organizing, strongly impel citizens away from the Orwellian "free" speech zone public assembly and demonstration.

New paradigms of the expression of resistance must grow from the current position of virtual checkmate.

I propose, respectfully, that citizens desiring to work--with effect--for change and to express dissent move toward dispersed, unanticipated and unpredictable forms--that get the message across.

This will tax the power elite's capacity to subvert and chill, and its current tactics to corral, intimidate and overwhelm with scheduled, massed, slow moving displays of firepower and the threat and use of state violence will be ineffective. The empire will investigate and develop ever more complex, intrusive and expansive tools and programs in its struggle to maintain control. This will be a drain on resources and bring ever more extreme antics into disrepute in the eyes of more and more citizens coming to grips with the reality that they are living in a modern police state.

Be very creative. Start going outside the envelope. Make them hear you!

I'll say no more about that in this forum.

Don't fall for the scam. 26.Jul.2004 01:55

Tony Blair's dog

You have the right to speech freely wherever you like.

Don't fall for the scam that you only can speak freely
in areas that someone designate.

Something tells me that whoever tell you that you
can only speak freely in certain "zones" can be
charged with violating basic human rights and
also successfully prosecuted.

Maybe it's time to look into who try to fool people
that they only can speak in "special" places.

agressively attacked 26.Jul.2004 08:31


drugs are forced on people by the state.these things are not drugs.they are deadly dangerous chemicals that can kill or damage your body.nazism type experiments are public policy in our communities.these people should be brought before a world tribunal and be charged with human rights violations and crimes against humanity. also religios or spiritual repression.

This is the place for coverage of the DNC ! ! 26.Jul.2004 10:33

politics as impossible

Sincerely, folks, these are great comments. Dare I hope that any of the delegates in Boston will hear or give a listen?

In so far as I follow this convention at all, it will be by way of boston.indymedia.org and www.cpr4democracy.com

If you still watch major (including public television) network news, TURN IT OFF.

Advisory - Speaking Freely in Special Places and at Special Times. 26.Jul.2004 17:24

this thing here

///Advisory - Speaking Freely in Special Places and at Special Times.///

"Hi folks. This is your Department of Homeland Security speaking to you.

You know, free speech is one of the most valued rights we have as Americans. And it's something that your government also treasures.

But unfortunately, due to evil terrorists who "hate our freedom", as our Dear President has so eloquently put it, our job is to modify and limit those freedoms and rights. The more we limit freedom, the less the terrorists will have to hate, and the safer you and your children will be.

So we have introduced a special advisory for all citizens, entitled "Speaking Freely in Special Places and at Special Times".

The idea behind this advisory is simple. It will allow you, as citizens, to speak as freely as you like in specially designed "speaker's pens", for a set amount of time!

These pens, or Sequestration Containers, can range anywhere from 2' x 3' x 6' high, to 10' x 20' x 8' high. They may be built of wood or metal or concrete, and in an attempt to recycle this nation's products, many may be re-purposed cow, sheep, or pig carrying semi trailers, the ones with the beautiful fillegree of breathing holes and restraining compartments. Once inside this tightly controlled and very secure space, you may speak freely on any topic you like.

Depending on the topic, the overall threat level of the day, and the personal feelings or random mood of the armed professionals guarding your "speaker's pen", there will be a time limit lasting anywhere from 1 second to at most 3.27 minutes.

Of course, outside these special containers and pens, different rules apply. Obviously, we can't stop you from saying anything anywhere to anyone you want, but if you are outside of your special pen, or speak longer than the helpful time limits outlined above, you should be under advisement that you can and will face quick and severe retribution for your choice of words.

As well, anyone who cannot abide by the very simple and very democratic rules INSIDE the pens will also face quick and harsh retaliatory actions by armed professionals.

Now, as can be seen, we've done a great job of protecting you and protecting the freedom you love. Though the Founding Fathers used the word "inalienable", our team of experts has found a perfect way to transfer your rights for other things!

The terrorists are out to get all of our freedoms, so it makes perfectly logical sense to fit and tailor those freedoms into the smallest, most tightly controlled, most secure area as possible. Any freedom that gets out might become a target for terrorists. And, after all, in this post 9-11 world, this is what the essence of freedom has become."

this is for all who do not have the SLIGHTEST fucking idea of the meaning of the word inalienable, for all who would compromise that which cannot be compromised, if they wish to call themselves free people living in a free society. you all can take your worthless, tragic, weasely little rationalizations, which rest on a foundation of NOTHING, NOTHING but fear fear fear, and shove 'em all up your ass, because THAT'S where they came from. the reason you have ABSOLUTELY NO ARGUMENT, OR LOGIC, OR REASONING at all for compromising freedom for security is because THERE ISN'T ONE. go live on your knees in your cage you sad cowards, while the rest of us die on our feet.

Kucinich supporters offer on-line newspaper and web site 26.Jul.2004 20:01


Look for articles lifted from daily editions of Inside/Out, newspaper offering another perspective on the 2004 Convention, which are posted at  http://www.kucinich.us

pdf version is also available at  http://www.kucinich.us/insideout/072604.pdf

Also, check out forums linked in the right hand column of the web page for postings from supporters participating in the week's events. That doesn't mean inside the Fleet Center, where nothing significant is happening anyway -- "Inside/Out" is to get the news out about what's happening OUTSIDE the Convention, where the real people are.