Beginning at 2 p.m. on Friday afternoon, Boston Common filled with people desperate to give and receive love after the election of Donald Trump led many in the community to feel stricken. After attendees met in front of the Park Street T station, which was covered in colorful chalk graffiti bearing messages of love and hope for America’s future in the post-election era, the participants of the Love Rally in the Common moved to a patch of the park. There, organizers began leading an afternoon dedicated to peacefully expressing love and unity with those who felt that their voices were silenced following the election of Donald Trump.
According to Mari Golden, an event organizer, the rally was inspired by the feelings of isolation that arose following the 2016 election results. She emphasized that although many of the rallies that have occurred following the election were anti-Trump, the Love Rally in the Common was not. Like the sister rallies being held in cities, New York included, at the same time, the Love Rally in the Common was a peace rally.
“Our goal is to simply provide love and support to those who need it,” Golden said.
Despite lacking an official permit, which prevented the rally from obstructing traffic and using any form of loud music or megaphone, organizers planned an afternoon of chants and group reflection. Participants were also encouraged to bring chants and signs of their own.
“Hate will never stop me.”
By 3:30 p.m, just an hour and a half into a rally that continued until 7 p.m, the back area of the Common was packed with Bostonians forming a tight-knit circle around those who had organized the rally.
Although many of those in attendance were young adults, the crowd was comprised of people from a diverse range of ages and other walks of life. Many of the participants were older, and some parents, like Roshni Isacc, brought their young children.
“I decided to attend this morning … so I took the kids, got them in the car, and drove from Acton,” Isacc said. “I’m so glad I came. I love the crowd and love the turnout, and it’s just so great to be around people who share your values and beliefs and making our voice heard together.”
Ralliers carried handmade signs with messages ranging from ‘Love Trumps Hate’ and ‘We Shall Overcome,’ to ‘The System Isn’t Broken, It was Built This Way.’ Others were simple: a giant circular peace sign made from a hula-hoop and duct tape, and a heart cut-out mounted on a stick.
Then there were the chants, many of which alluded to Trump. Ralliers shouted, in unison, “make America kind again, “build bridges not walls,” “we are the change,” and “stronger together.
As the chants continued, many Bostonians in attendance milled around the large circle of ralliers and began speaking with those around them. The conversations were largely ones of support and camaraderie, and many ended with spontaneous hugs.
Some participants, like Janet Scudder, who carried a giant paper bag filled with brightly-colored origami cranes, passed around heartwarming mementos. Scudder, who expects rallies like this one to continue regularly until at least the midterm elections—if not 2020—has 52 bags of these cranes prepared, and plans to continue distributing them as the weeks go on.
Laura Chivers, a Bostonian who was drawn to this rally because of its peaceful nature, was determined to express her status as ally for anyone who needs her help. Throughout the afternoon, she distributed silver and gold safety pins to those around her—a reference to a movement in the United Kingdom after the Brexit where those who identified as allies wore safety pins. Instead of aligning herself as an ally for only one group, Chivers hoped the pins would universalize the ideas of allies and safe spaces and unite those groups who felt isolated.
“For a very long time, I’ve felt that it was important to stand up and protect people that were being treated unfairly in all sorts of ways,” Chivers said. “While I’m dismayed with the outcome of the election, I do believe in our process and think that we have to move forward.
Others used the rally to make a different kind of statement, one less exacting. One man, who sat on the outskirts of the circle, had a blindfold covering his eyes and a large notebook opened on his lap. Scattered around his feet were piles of brightly-colored markers and a sign asking those around him, ‘What are you most afraid of?’ Throughout the afternoon and night, participants partook in this act of ultimate trust, writing in his notebook while he sat, unable to see who approached him, or what they wrote down.
By 4 p.m., most of the crowd had sat in a circle on the grass, forming a giant fishbowl. Participants could stand in the middle of the circle and share their emotions with those around them and speak their mind.
The first was an older man dressed in a long navy overcoat and red baseball hat. After a brief introduction, his husky voice led those around him in a series of Motown songs, like “Wake Up Everybody,” by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes.
“Wake up everybody, no more sleeping in bed, no more backward thinking, time for thinking ahead,” he sang.
Other speakers, such as Brandy Benton, expressed her pride in being a Bostonian, an American, and a woman, and her love for those around her.
“Hate will never stop me,” Benton said. “Hate will never stop you … I am here today because of my friends who cannot stand for themselves, we are very lucky to be able to stand here today together and rally—this is action.”
But, there were also dissenters. One small group of young Trump supporters in began an intense conversation with those who attended the rally to protest Trump’s election. The young men clarified that they voted for Trump because of their political beliefs rather than protesting the election of Hillary Clinton, and they attempted to answer the questions of the attendee. After a few minutes, event organizers intervened and reminded those involved about the discussion of the rally’s peaceful nature.
But by the end of the night, this sentiment many speakers expressed about coming together had been actualized. When one man stood in the center of the circle—between signs that declared “Love Trumps Hate” and in front of thousands disappointed in Tuesday’s outcome—and said he had voted for Trump, he was met with sentiments of compassion and love.
Featured Image by Lizzy Barrett / Heights Staff