10,000 in Boston rally against war

by Stephanie M. Peters, Globe Correspondent

Part of events held nationwide

October 28, 2007

As an antiwar rally waged behind her on swampy Boston Common yesterday, Linda Tobin and her two children crouched over a pair of dusty black boots, one of 156 pairs representing each New England casualty of the Iraq war.

"There are so many ways other than war to communicate, especially in this day and age," Tobin said as she moved down a row of boots, part of the "Eyes Wide Open" exhibit. Her conviction brought her the 2 1/2 hours from St. Johnsbury, Vt., with six family members, including children ages 6, 4, and 2.

"It's especially important for the kids to see this because they're the next generation," Tobin said.

Tobin, 36, was one of an estimated 10,000 people who gathered on the Common to listen to speakers, including historian Howard Zinn and Councilor Felix Arroyo, and march to Copley Square and back.

The rally was one of 11 large antiwar held nationwide yesterday as part of the National Day of Action to end the war.

Despite the drizzle, the crowd was a sea of rainbow-colored peace flags, yellow balloons, and homemade signs bearing messages such as "Support our communities, fund human needs," "Vermont says no to war," and "Bush wants your children for cannon fodder."

Zinn, author of "A People's History of the United States," spoke for about 15 minutes and received the loudest reception.

"You can't have a war on terrorism; war is terrorism," he said. "When enough soldiers refuse to fight, this war will not be able to go on, and we need to support them any way we can."

Zinn is renowned for an antiwar speech he gave in nearly the same spot in 1971, at the height of Vietnam War protests.

Paul and Lois Doerr, of Wayland, attended that speech and said a stronger antiwar movement packed Boston Common then.

"I'm not convinced of the value of this," Paul Doerr, 58, said, motioning around him. "The polls indicate that everyone's against the war . . . but Bush is still getting the funding he asks for."

Last Monday, Bush asked Congress for another $46 billion for 2008 to continue war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The rally attracted many passersby, who stopped to learn what the loud music and large crowds were about, said Angela Kelly, an organizer for the New England United Coalition, which sponsored the rally.

"As soon as they found out what it was about, many people decided to stay and pick up material," she said. "I think it was a powerful demonstration that the peace majority is growing each and every day . . . we certainly brought more people in to build our movement."

There were no rally-related arrests, police said.