Being only 20, and seeing as how my hippie parents stopped protesting things back in 1968, I hadn't, until last night, had the chance to get out and protest something big. The teacher of my War and Possibilities of Peace class informed us about the protests of the Presidential Debates that were going on before and during, outside of the UMASS Boston gates. He even let class out 10 minutes early so everyone who wanted to go could catch the commuter rail into Boston.

The protest surrounding Ralph Nader's right to debate (which I was marching in... Nader's right to debate, and Nader as a candidate can be discussed elsewhere on E2, like here) started in a park about a mile from the gates of UMASS and stayed there, gathering steam, until 7:15ish, at which point a small warning was given by the people with the bullhorn to the effect of "This isn't a permitted march, if you have a problem with the cops getting angry at you, get somewhere safe if/when they do." This was new information to me, but my friends and I decided to stick it out and see what happened.

A few minutes later, we started marching, taking over the entire south-bound side of the road and chanting random slogans whenever someone came up with one. I received a Nader gag at this point, but decided to wear it as an armband rather than a gag since I wanted to talk to my friends and yell stuff.

The most interesting part of the entire march section that I found was the random George W. Bush and Al Gore fans who decided to walk straight through our march in the opposite direction, yelling about how we all were idiots and their favorite candidate was the best. To which we replied with a resounding chant of "What are you afraid of? Let Ralph debate."

Even if I wasn't a fan of Nader's political position, I would still argue for his chance to answer questions at the debate. Indeed, I believe in Pat Buchanan's right to debate, even though I find his politics revolting.
In any case, after a few minutes of marching, we met up with another march coming from another direction (this was a planned meeting). They were marching to stop the use of the death penalty in America. We all marched down to the gates of UMASS and there was a peaceful demonstration held in the streets under the watchful eye of Boston's finest. The demonstration consisted of a drum circle, a rather talented trumpet player, a play put on in the street and the reading of names of people who had been put to death by the American justice system.

After this point, I had to leave but I want to clear one thing up; the police were using pepper spray that night. One of my friends who stayed later than I did was attempting to persuade protesters to use peace rather than force and was hit in the eye by a cop using pepper spray. I hear it hurts quite a bit. The police were provoked to that action, though, they just should have been a bit more careful about who they hit.