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Boston Common’s history of protest

Boston officials estimated that 175,000 people thronged the heart of the city Saturday to express their opposition to freshly inaugurated President Donald J. Trump, making it the largest protest on Boston Common in recent memory.

The protest was the latest reminder of the enduring role of the Common, the nation’s oldest city park, as Boston’s center of dissent. Here is a look at some other notable Common protests from the Globe’s archives.

Oct. 15, 1969: George McGovern addresses about 100,000 war protesters demanding that President Richard Nixon agree to a moratorium on the Vietnam War. “Perhaps out of the blood-soaked jungles of Southeast Asia will come the humility and the national wisdom that will lead us into the light of a new day,” McGovern said.


April 15, 1970: The Black Panthers, Students for a Democratic Society, and more moderate antiwar factions rally. Police estimate the crowd at 45,000 to 50,000. Yippie leader Abbie Hoffman, free while appealing a conviction for his part in protests surrounding the 1968 Democratic convention, drew the best reviews from the crowd.

May 6, 1971: An estimated crowd of more than 25,000 rallies on the Common against the Vietnam War. Later, 3,000 demonstrators marched to the JFK Federal Building and blocked the entrances. More than 130 protesters were arrested. Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the classified Pentagon Papers to the press, took part in the sit-in and complained of police brutality.

March 29, 2003: At least 25,000 converge on the Common to protest the Iraq War. “We’re here today to remind our country that by definition, war is a failure for the human race,” Brian Corr, a leader of the national group Peace Action and the rally’s moderator, told the crowd as helicopters hovered. War supporters appeared in much smaller numbers at the edges of the rally. Wearing a hard hat plastered with pro-war stickers, one man bellowed at the crowd: “Did you forget 9/11? Our troops need support.”


Roy Greene can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @roygreene