ET TU, CAMBRIDGE? Since when are antiwar protesters herded into a specially designated pit area in the People's Republic of Cambridge? Since yesterday, apparently. Police arrested seven people at an event on Cambridge Common to celebrate the 230th anniversary of the US Army. (Globe coverage here; Herald coverage here.)
According to the ACLU of Massachusetts, the trouble began when Cambridge authorities decided not to let protesters exercise their free-speech rights unless they agreed to move to a pit away from the main event - reminiscent of the pen set up at last summer's Democratic National Convention, outside the FleetCenter.
Here's an excerpt from a news release (PDF) put out yesterday by the ACLU:
Organizers announced in advance that anyone wishing to question the event or U.S. policy in Iraq would be asked to confine their activities to a small area at a far corner of the Cambridge Common behind a row of Jersey barriers in a so-called "free speech area." ACLU attorneys warned city lawyers late Monday that forcing people into this "pen" because they had signs or leaflets deemed to constitute protest messages would be unconstitutional and the city could be held liable to those herded into the zone.
Here's an account on the Boston Indymedia site by one of the protesters. While I certainly don't condone the comparison of the United States to the "Third Reich," this is a comprehensive, if one-sided, description of what happened.
IRONIC CONCLUSION. Last fall, WBUR general manager Jane Christo's announcement that she intended to sell the public radio station's Rhode Island outlet, WRNI, set off a chain of events that very quickly led to her resignation.
Now the new management at 'BUR has decided to hold onto its Rhode Island station. Ian Donnis, of the Providence Phoenix, reported yesterday that though this appears to be good news, local activists remain skeptical.
The Providence Journal has a detailed update today.