As tourists zipped by on Segways, Saunders, Willis, and half a dozen others dropped bombshells. They said that a disproportionate 37 percent of Boston residents with disabilities reside in communities of color like Dorchester and Mattapan. Furthermore, according to the 2009 American Community Survey (conducted by the US Census Bureau), only about 25 percent of black Bostonians with disabilities are employed. "The numbers are stunning," said Keith Jones, a tireless disabled-rights fighter who has cerebral palsy. "And those numbers aren't by happenstance."
This is a new beginning for their cause; facilitators claimed that in the face of their omission from the Urban League report, disabled minorities are more determined to be heard now than they've ever been before. "Wherever there's a discussion about the state of black Boston," said Willis of M-Power, "people with disabilities need to have a seat at that table."
WHAT THE FOX?
BOSTON TV PARTY News Corp’s recent UK voicemail-hacking controversy spread to the colonies last
week as the protesters lined up to demand FCC investigation of the company’s stateside media outlets.
Rupert Murdoch's wet glove of a face was everywhere outside the State House last Thursday. Baking in a half-circle on the bricks beneath the Golden Dome, members of the Boston Media Reform Network (BMRN) shielded themselves from the sun with popsicle masks portraying the media magnate. They also carried signs stamped with slogans like "What the Fox?" — but it was the sea of wrinkly Murdoch visages that paused commuters in their tracks.
>> SLIDESHOW: Protests of Fox News and Verizon <<
The group turned out about 50 people, from bespectacled young optimists, to seasoned demonstrators, to a few in between. Their demand: that congress and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) investigate — and possibly yank licenses from — stateside media outlets owned by Murdoch's News Corporation, under legal fire in the UK for sleazy practices at its shamed News of the World.
Having hosted lead-up powwows to paint placards and rap strategy, BMRN facilitators Jason Pramas and Bill Hodges came rhetorically equipped for battle, soldiering through the taunting of a Murdoch-loving yuppie who suggested, from the sidelines, that they go home and "blog about it." Mary Alice Crim, an outreach manager from the Western Mass–based media-reform nonprofit Free Press, blasted Murdoch for contributing to a monopolistic media landscape in which "only a handful of companies control what we read."
Local NBC affiliate WHDH covered the spectacle, as did Murdoch's own Fox 25, which left before the colorful band of progressives crossed the street for their encore picket of the station's Beacon Hill outpost. It's too bad — the offensive was leagues more entertaining than when lone activists sit across Beacon Street during the morning newscast, only to have their placards blocked from the screen by commentator Doug "VB" Goudie's titanic ego.
The protest attracted more curiosity than spite; for the most part, onlookers chuckled at the Murdoch masks, and some fellow Fox-haters even propped the activists, who played the corner of Park and Beacon streets for 15 minutes before police asked them to chill. They obliged, but not before one last spat with a Fox legionnaire, this one a tucked-in armchair Hannity on vacation with his family, who screamed from his duck boat: "Get a job, you dirty hippies." Without hesitation, one protester in a Rasta beanie replied: "Quack quack, you fascist. Go back to wherever, so long as it's not here."