Protesters find common ground
TEA PARTY, OCCUPY MARCH IN WORCESTER
By Lee Hammel TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF firstname.lastname@example.org
WORCESTER - More than 100 people who don't agree on much agreed yesterday that a Congress that passes a law permitting the indefinite detention of Americans without charge diminishes the country.
Among them were Sheila, a 68-year-old tea party member from Worcester who brought her sign "What-cha gonna do when They come for you," and Occupy Worcester's Sam Capogrossi. They and a dozen others banged on a 5-gallon plastic container, trying to persuade the drivers in rush-hour traffic on Main Street that the National Defense Authorization Act that passed in December is a threat to their civil liberties. The law permits indefinite detention for terrorism suspects, American or not.
They read in unison the Bill of Rights in the plaza in front of the federal courthouse, under the watchful eyes on three Worcester police officers and two members of Homeland Security's Federal Protective Service. There were no incidents, save for a citation written for defacing public property when an Occupy Worcester member wrote in chalk "Occupy Everywhere" on a column in Federal Plaza.
Members of each group said they admired the other group for its stand on NDAA, but except for a brief speaking portion of event, Occupy Worcester members mostly occupied the north end of the small Federal Plaza Park and tea partiers mostly the south. There was some "good discussion" among the members, but "we're not changing any minds," said Ken Mandile, head of the Worcester Tea Party.
Nevertheless, he said, it is impressive that the groups can put aside their differences to stand for such an important principle as the Bill of Rights.
Occupy Worcester's Jonathan Noble said, "Anarchists, communists, and tea partiers are standing together. Even though I feel a little uncomfortable about what they (tea party members) stand for, I think it's kind of a beautiful thing that we can stand together on this."
Carrying a sign saying "Give Me Liberty," Paxton tea partier Margaret Pennace said. "I think it's a wonderful demonstration of Americanism."
Chris Robarge of Occupy Worcester said the NDAA is written so vaguely, members of the Occupy movement or of the tea parties may learn only "the hard way" that their activities subject them to indefinite detention.
Wayne Cormier, a 64-year-old Charlton tea partier, looked around and said people need to forget talk about the political designations of left-wing and right-wing. "That's how they keep us divided. We've got to change the paradigm."
Mr. Cormer, carrying a Ron Paul sign and looking at the Occupiers around him, said, "They've got a good idea: the 99 percent. I guess in the NDAA, we're the 99 percent."
But his fellow tea partier, Marcia Wagner of Dudley, retorted, "The 99 percent is another way to divide us."
Max Shaw, 18, a Clark University freshman, said that while some tea party members may be racist or xenophobic, those he knows have some ideas he can agree with. The student, an Occupy Worcester member from outside of Philadelphia, was the only person at the rally sanctioned by police, for writing on the stone columns in chalk.
Bob Kennedy, 64, of Worcester, an Occupy sympathizer, said that the generation of his father, who would be 90, fought and died in World War II for the Bill of Rights and to defeat fascism. "I never dreamed or thought possible that our Bill of Rights would be taken away from us" by the U.S. government, he said.
City Councilor Konstantina B. Lukes and Ronal C. Madnick, both former executive directors of the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, also attended the rally, as did lawyer and radio host Randy Feldman.
Tag: #teaparty, #ows, #ndaa, #worcester
NO MORE LEFT. NO MORE RIGHT. TIME TO UNITE. STAND AND FIGHT!