image description
Protesters took center stage at Williamstown's Fourth of July celebration.
image description
image description

Silent Protest Staged at Williamstown Parade

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
Print Story | Email Story

The annual parade marched down Main Street.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Mother Nature was not the only one who may have made revelers at the town's annual Fourth of July celebrations a little uncomfortable.
 
A group of nine young people turned out at the parade and annual reading of the founding documents with thought-provoking signs that provided a balanced perspective to a day that, for some, is all about patriotism.
 
Dressed in plain black T-shirts and holding placards with messages like, "End Prison Slavery," and, "No One Is Illegal on Stolen Land," the group stepped onto Spring Street a little ahead of the parade as the American Legion Color Guard made its way around the corner from Main Street.
 
The protesters, who appeared to be college- age, then walked the parade route as a group before circling back individually with their signs displayed -- making sure their messages were delivered even as parade units ranging from the Williamstown Select Board to the North Adams SteepleCats waved to the crowd in the background.
 
Later, the same group of protesters filed into Williams College's Sawyer Library just before the traditional reading of the nation's founding documents and held the same signs silently at the front of the audience gathered to hear actors from Williamstown Theatre Festival perched on the walkway above.
 
The president of the Williamstown Chamber of Commerce, who organizes the parade, said she was not sure whether the group had asked to be included in that event, but she welcomed its presence.
 
"Isn't that what America is about?" Victoria Saltzman said. "This is an example. It's quintessentially America that we can celebrate and protest at the same time."
 
Indeed, the protesters were not the only ones sending political messages.
 
The contingent from the First Congregational Church marching in the parade held signs calling for environmental and racial justice. And the non-partisan League of Women Voters again reminded spectators that "Democracy Is Not a Spectator Sport."
 
At Sawyer Library, readings from the Declaration and U.S. Constitution once again were juxtaposed against the words of 19th century freed slave and abolitionist icon Frederick Douglass.
 
"To [the American slave], your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy -- a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages," Douglas said to a Rochester, N.Y., crowd in 1852.
 
Before the actors took the stage, Williams College's Chapin librarian pointedly told the crowd that Douglass' words resonate today as they did in the run-up to the Civil War.
 
After the parade, several of the protesters politely declined to be interviewed about their demonstration.
 
But one of the signs they carried may have summed up their message as well as any other.
 
"Whose Independence Are We Celebrating Today?" it asked.
6 Comments
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue; please keep comments focused on the issues and not on personalities. Profanity, obscenity, racist language and harassment are not allowed. iBerkshires reserves the right to ban commenters or remove commenting on any article at any time. Concerns may be sent to info@iberkshires.com.

Mount Greylock Committee Hears Concerns About Turf Field Plan

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff

Rubber infill from the turf field at Weston Field adheres to a reporter's leg after a minute lying down on the surface to take a photo.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Mount Greylock School Committee last week declined to slow plans for installing an artificial turf field at the middle-high school but members noted that there is still time to weigh health and environmental concerns before shovels go into the ground.
 
The full School Committee earlier in the spring authorized the Phase 2 grounds subcommittee to put the turf field out to bid this summer.
 
Since that time, committee members have heard from a number of residents concerned about studies that have linked "infill" materials in used in turf fields to higher rates of cancer and environmental contamination due to runoff from those fields.
 
"Some of the chemicals found in crumb rubber are known to cause cancer," a fact sheet from the Toxics Use Reduction Institute at University of Massachusetts at Lowell reads in part. "Because of the large number of chemicals present in the infill, as well as the health effects of individual chemicals, crumb rubber made from recycled tires is the option that likely presents the most concerns related to chemical exposures."
View Full Story

More Williamstown Stories