Leona, Amy, and I went up to Boston’s City Hall today so we could join in the “Join the Impact” demonstration against California’s Proposition 8. There were dark clouds, and it looked like rain. As we walked from the Park Street subway station over to city hall, we wondered aloud about how many people might be there. “They’ve got 3,000 on their Facebook page who’ve signed up to be there today,” said Leona. “Yeah, but with the rain I’ll bet it’s half that,” I said, “although there will be people there who forget to sign up, so what, maybe 2,000?” Leona still thought it would be more.
There were a lot of people at City Hall Plaza, more than I expected; and more streaming in every few minutes. Early on, one of the speakers said there were 5,000 people there — but I suspect there were more than that at the peak of attendance. We wound up standing up at the top of the amphitheatre, pretty far from the stage.
Miraculously, the rain held off. Down on the stage, a woman shouted, “Who’s here from Boston?” and all the Bostonians shouted back. She listed off various regions of Massachusetts, and the people who were from those regions shouted back at her. But of course she didn’t mention the south coast (people in Boston don’t even know that we exist), so when she was done and there was a little lull, I shouted, “We’re from New Bedford!” and since I have a really big voice a bunch of people laughed, including the woman on the stage.
About two minutes later, someone touches my arm, and I turn around, and there’s Donald, an old friend. “I thought that loudmouth who shouted had to be you,” he said, grinning. I haven’t seen Donald for years, so we chatted a little bit. He pointed out some of the home-made signs people were holding up: “Don’t Forget Us, Obama!” and “Mormon Families Support Gay Families” and “Str8 against H8” and some others. We both noticed the sign that read, “Hey California, WTF!?”
They had a lot of speakers. Some of them were pretty good. State representative Byron Rushing quoted Frederick Douglass to great effect. Niki Tsongas, congresswoman representing Lawrence and Lowell, was short and to the point. Congressman Ed Markey got the crowd all revved up. The speakers went on for over two hours — maybe a couple too many speakers, and a little bit of live music would have been nice.
But it felt like time well spent. There were events like ours in every state. 5,000 of us turned out in Boston to demonstrate our dismay that California would take away rights that used to be granted under their state constitution. Maybe 6,000 people turned out in Seattle, more than 10,000 turned out in San Diego (those are the only cities the news outlets are reporting right now). With only six days’ notice, thousands of people showed up in front of City Halls nationwide — let’s hope that makes the politicians sit up and take notice.