Seattle Occupiers threw bricks through windows. Oakland anarchists got tear-gassed. Chicago protesters shut down five Bank of Americas. And tens of thousands of students in New York flooded Wall Street. Yet Boston's mild May Day actions ended with the tamest protest of all — one that was slow and solemn, bizarre and symbolic: an elaborate funeral procession mourning the death of capitalism.
Probably fewer than 100 anti-capitalist activists from Occupy Boston and beyond met on the steps of Copley Square's Trinity Church around 7 pm Tuesday for this radical act of street theater. They came armed with elaborate costumes (hats, gloves, face paint), giant puppets, masks, instruments, and candles.
"This is a funeral," said one facilitator via people's mic, before the procession departed from Copley. "There will be no running, no jogging, no skipping . . . Unless you're partying with Sacco and Vanzetti."
The front of the parade was led by a dancing skeleton, followed by a big black wooden coffin carried by several "pallbearers" and a series of mourners. There were also puppets of billionaires, dead capitalists, Sacco and Vanzetti, and the Haymarket martyrs — Chicago anarchists who were killed in 1886 while fighting for the eight-hour workday.
The procession — complete with ghosts, gravestones, and a large "RIP CAPITALISM" banner — proceeded down Boylston and looped around Newbury Street, passing by luxury shops and designer boutiques. Though most stores were closed, the parade still baffled and delighted onlookers spilling out of bars and restaurants, and those who were stuck in their cars. (Boston Police followed the parade closely, holding up all traffic.) The parade lasted just about an hour, ending before 9 pm.
The mood was grave and quiet; at some points, the only sounds were a single gong, or activists using their voices to make eerie "oOoOoOo" noises. It was peaceful compared to the chaos going down in other cities — yet the whole thing was noticeably creepy.