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Protesters demand all votes are counted, advocate for progressive policies

Hundreds marched from Nubian Square to the steps of the Boston Public Library Wednesday night, rallying behind an array of progressive causes and protesting a false declaration of victory by President Donald Trump as the election remained too close to call.

Demonstrators marched from Nubian Square to Copley Square Wednesday evening to protest President Donald Trump potentially contesting the results of the presidential election. LAURYN ALLEN/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Protesters gathered at Justice Edward O. Gourdin Veterans Memorial Park in Roxbury hours after victories were called in the key battleground states of Wisconsin and Michigan for Democratic nominee Joe Biden. The crowd did not engage with police, and the night remained peaceful, although the crowd blocked traffic at several major intersections.

The mostly masked crowd listened to speeches by representatives of local progressive organizations before marching to Copley Square for a second round of addresses. Speakers touched on a range of issues, including Native American rights, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and environmental justice.

In addition to demanding that all votes be counted before a winner is declared, organizers said additional political action will be necessary under a Biden presidency.

“In case you don’t know, we are out here despite the results,” said Ernst Jean-Jacques Jr., an organizer with the Freedom Fighters Coalition, who emceed the event. “Regardless [of] what happens with this election, there’s still going to be problems that need to be fixed.”

Speakers such as Jean-Luc Pierite, president of the North American Indian Center of Boston, said Biden’s moderate policies would not be enough and that citizens would need to exert continued pressure should he ultimately win the presidency.

“We have a long way to go in fighting for the Green New Deal and Medicare for All, both of which Biden does not support,” Pierite told The Daily Free Press. “Those broader fights are basically why we are here.”

Attendees began to gather at the park around 5:15 p.m., where they split into small groups to discuss the night’s route and listen to impromptu speeches.

Around 5:45 p.m., a hot dog stand rolled into the park.

“Welcome to Nubian Square,” its operator told the crowd. “Don’t forget to support Black-owned businesses.”

As organizers called for a phone with Spotify access to “keep the energy going,” attendees began a series of call-and-response chants. Drums, whistles and a lone tuba punctuated the spaces between calls and responses.

Pierite was the first to address the crowd, speaking about Massachusetts’ history of colonization and emphasizing its continued status as Native American land.

“I want you to hold in your mind and in your hearts what it means to be a good guest,” he said. “What are the promises that you are going to make in your hearts for this host tribe?”

Other speakers addressed antisemitism, Trump’s aggressive anti-immigration policies and residents’ tax dollars paying for police officers’ legal defense fees.

Blaze Travis, who has been a member of Socialist Alternative since graduating from Boston University four years ago, told protestors the 2000 presidential election — in which a lengthy recount process was halted by the Supreme Court — would have turned out differently had Democrats put up a stronger opposition. He said that election served as a warning.

“Republicans successfully stole the election for George W. Bush. Now, Trump is going for an even more grotesque repeat,” Travis said. “Some of us may be tempted to wait for the final result, but we cannot make the same mistake of 2000 again. We have to take this fight into our own hands.”

Following speeches at the park, the crowd began to march, passing through the South End on its way to Copley Square. Protestors carried signs reading “Count each vote,” “Justice for Breonna Taylor” and “Farmers against fascism.”

Volunteers in high-visibility clothing blocked intersecting traffic while the crowd overtook Washington Street.

Shortly after 8 p.m., marchers passed outdoor diners north of Massachusetts Avenue.

“Black people used to live here,” they chanted. “Liar, liar, gentrifier.”

As protestors snaked their way onto Dedham Street toward Copley, the commotion drew residents out of their homes. Sitting on their steps or leaning out of front doorways, many recorded the crowd while some cheered.

At Copley, demonstrators filled the plaza and street as a second round of speakers addressed attendees from the steps of the Boston Public Library. Again, their messages varied.

“Our coexisting as one force, one community, one tribe in this moment here, right now, is resilience within itself,” said Yaritza Dudley, a representative of Black Boston. “Each and every single one of us have chosen to be fearless.”

Additional speakers included representatives of Solidarity North Shore, Dorchester Art Project and the Eastern Service Workers Association.

“Our fight is not just with Donald Trump,” Dudley said. “Our fight is not just with the White House. Our fight is with the capitalist, oppressive system.”

Speeches concluded shortly after 9:40 p.m., and the crowd diffused peacefully into the city. Volunteers offered to walk locals back to Nubian Square.

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