Thousands March to Take Back Boston!
Focus on corporate greed at Hyatt, Verizon, Bank of America
On September 30th, 3,000 people came together from around the country and took to the streets of Boston to demand an end to corporate greed. The march was organized by the Right to the City Alliance, which is a coalition of organizations that seek to build a base of grassroots leaders in low-income, working class communities of color to challenge neo-liberal economic policies. Locally, Right to the City brought together community groups, like City Life Vida Urbana and the Chinese Progressive Association, and labor organizations, like SEIU locals and Jobs with Justice.
The march began with a rally in the Boston Commons. After hearing some inspiring words from participants in the Right to the City conference, everyone mobilized and took to the streets. The first stop on the march was the Hyatt. Last year Hyatt fired its entire housekeeping staff at three non-union hotels in the Boston area, replacing women who had worked at Hyatt for decades with temporary workers earning minimum wage. Everyone chanted “Shame on Hyatt!” as they passed by a picket line of UNITE HERE Local 26 workers. Later, hundreds of UNITE HERE workers joined the march to show their solidarity.
The next stop was Verizon. CWA Members were out in front of a Verizon Wireless store – with a very angry manager in the background – and all 3,000 chanted “Shame on Verizon.” Verizon workers went out on strike against Verizon in August. While workers have returned to their jobs, bargaining continues.
The final stop was Bank of America, where foreclosed homeowners took the lead.
“I’m sitting-in at Bank of America so that my neighbors, and me, can stay in our homes,” said Presley Obasohan, who is fighting foreclosure by Bank of America. Mr. Obasohan is underwater on his loan for his Dorchester home, where building values have sunk to half or less of mortgage loan debt. “So many people have been thrown out of their homes or lost their jobs needlessly because of mistakes made by Wall Street Banks. Yet it’s the banks who are now rewarded with billions in tax refunds.”
By the time the march arrived at the Bank of America, 24 people were already seated in front of all the entrances to the building, ready to take part in civil disobedience. The rest of the marchers rallied around them as the bankers looked on from inside Bank of America. The police came and soon all 24 were in plastic handcuffs and under arrest. As they were led away, everyone chanted “The people united will never be defeated.”
After the arrests had been made, the march continued to Dewey Square, to join with the “Occupy Boston” group, the local version of Occupy Wall St. Occupy Boston appeared almost literally overnight, through successful use of social media and a few “general assemblies” held on the days leading up to September 30th. Close to 1,000 people gathered in Dewey Square on Friday night and people continue to occupy that space. The group is currently working on creating an official list of demands.