Amnesty International liberates City Hall

The kids are all right
By CHRIS FARAONE  |  April 1, 2009

FREEDOM FIGHTERS: The kickoff for Amnesty International's recent annual meeting in Boston included a large population of young people clamoring for immigration-law reform.

Old-school Jamaica Plain and Cambridge hippies had better step up their game. From the look of things around Government Center this past Friday, students are en route to taking over Greater Boston's protest racket.

Representing the extreme position that everyone deserves basic human rights, about 200 young people joined almost as many adults in front of City Hall to kick off Amnesty International's annual meeting (held at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel over the past weekend). For a pack of wild liberals from across the world, the new radicals were uncharacteristically organized; unlike at most left-leaning downtown spectacles in recent memory, there weren't random pro-choice and PETA oak tags scattered throughout the crowd.

Heads were amped, but they might have wanted to begin earlier since immigration bureaucrats from the nearby John F. Kennedy building were likely halfway into happy hour by the time things flamed up. Nevertheless, human-rights advocates belted loudly for the entertainment of passing yuppies in running shoes and Sox hats who were trying to ignore the Latinos and lesbians handing out literature. (One dingbat co-ed used her pastel fingernails as earplugs.)

Despite the infusion of young blood, reaction to the protest remained as ignorant as ever. While some pedestrians were simply disinterested in the universal right to liberty (and to not be arbitrarily detained), others not-so-boldly counter-protested. A group of five (black and white) clowns dropped ethnic slurs around the perimeter. But despite causing a minor behind-the-scenes commotion, they bounced before serious problems arose. Afterward, clamor ensued on the message boards, where bigots labeled participants as "young and dumb Communists and leftists," and wrote that "all illegal immigrants" are "criminals and parasites." (Anyone who's unsympathetic to immigrant rights is best off hurling insults from behind a keyboard.)

Taking cues from liberal powerhouses like Rosa Clemente — the New York activist who ran for vice-president on the Green Party ticket in this past election, and who riled City Hall on Friday — the Amnesty bunch, with its invigorated blood transfusion, is angry. They're not mere poseurs, either; Obama T-shirts seemed to be intentionally left home to acknowledge the president's slow progress on immigration issues. Much like the hygienically challenged picketers who led their way, these new kids on the soap box advocate change through peaceful means. That said, cowards need to come with more than rhetoric if they really want to dent their determination.

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