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Boston March for Science draws supporters from scientific community

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Thousands of protesters gathered in the Boston Common Saturday afternoon to participate in the Boston March for Science, which took place on Earth Day with sister marches around the world, including one in Washington, D.C., New York and Seattle.

Protesters held signs reading, “Keep your tiny hands off my data,” “Science is not a liberal conspiracy” and “What do we want? Evidence based science. When do we want it? After peer-review.”

Lum-Bih Tashi, the chair for inclusion and diversity of the March for Science, told The Daily Free Press the march was organized as a way to publicly show support for science and innovation despite bipartisan attacks on science.

“This event was organized as a nonpartisan effort to encourage our politicians to support evidence-based research when making our policies, to support science literacy for schools, to support funding for research and to support scientists in general … because science is a part of our everyday lives,” Tashi said.

Tashi said she is most concerned about how scientists can continue to share their information freely despite public opposition.

“We’re kind of trying to unite scientists with their communities,” Tashi said. “The biggest movements happen through grassroots and I believe that if the communities and if we as average citizens are in support of science, we can really achieve our goals.”

Chiderah Okoye, the president of the National Society of Black Engineers Boston Professionals, said during the march that the protesters were there to announce their desire to innovate.

“We firmly support the funding of research and exploration to advance our ability to save lives and live sustainably on this planet,” Okoye said. “Our presence here today says that we recognize an ability to groom a diverse international scientific community.”

Gina McCarthy, head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under former President Barack Obama, said during the march she will not let the work of President Donald Trump’s administration hurt the EPA any longer.

“Today is a time of significant challenge to public health in our environment and we must stand up to that challenge,” McCarthy said. “Health and well-being are growing incredibly complicated [and] our leadership in Washington is diminishing investments in the very institutions that deliver the science that we need to survive and to thrive.”

McCarthy said she fears the work of the current presidential administration will hurt progress already made.

“[Trump] could roll back progress on our air and our water quality that would weaken health protections for millions of Americans,” McCarthy said.

Several Massachusetts residents said they marched to show their solidarity with the scientific community.

Susan Kane, 48, of Waltham, said she came because she does not agree with the president’s choice to embrace religion and ignore science.

“We’re concerned about Trump cutting funding for science and the anti-science attitude in the country,” Kane said. “It seems very dangerous, especially because a lot of challenges we’re going to face in the coming years can only be solved with good information, accurate information [and] scientific information.”

Michelle Lauder, 52, of Waltham, said she came because she works in healthcare and sees the effect science can have every day.

“[If] you didn’t die from infection, thank science, because every day I’m surrounded by people surviving another day in this world because of science,” Lauder said.

Alexander Akerberg, 32, of Back Bay, said he came because he and his wife are post-doctoral fellows at Harvard Medical School and support science.

“The seeds of denial have been sown from the highest levels of our government to people and I think it’s dangerous and society is going in the wrong direction,” Akerberg said.

Amanda Babson, 40, of Narragansett, Rhode Island, said as an oceanographer, she worries about the future consequences of climate change.

“I think it’s important that we have science inform our policy and that we have the right policies to support strong science,” Babson said. “We can make the right decisions if we understand how to protect our planet, and also [how] science is important in every aspect of our lives.”[mediagrid cat=”40431″][mediagrid cat=”40431″]

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