As election results rolled in from states across the country, Yaritza Dudley raised her megaphone to a crowd of 500 protesters gathered on the steps of the Boston Public Library Wednesday night to deliver a message: “Do not be fooled,” the 22-year-old Dorchester-based activist warned. “It doesn’t matter who sits at the head of the table if the table was built on a broken foundation.”

Dudley and youth activists from the Sunrise Movement, Socialist Alternative and other Boston chapters of local progressive organizations marched through the city from Nubian Square to Copley Square, calling for an end to voter suppression, racism and police brutality.

Marching past outdoor diners in the South End and curious Back Bay residents poking their heads out of their windows, protesters held signs reading “Stop Trump’s racist voter suppression” and repeated chants denouncing fascism and the Trump administration. The protest was a push to continue the count of votes across the country, a denouncement of President Donald Trump, and — perhaps most emphatically — a reminder of the long road ahead for members of the Democratic Socialist party.

“Do not let Biden lead you into complacency,” Dudley said. “Democrats and Republicans are the same oppressor with a different face. The difference between Democrats and Republicans is that Democrats smile as they put the knife through your body and your hopes towards a better future.”

Malden resident Luis Moreno said the demonstration was a necessary reminder that “no matter who wins,” the issues that protesters fought for over the summer will not disappear overnight.

“Joe Biden and Kamala Harris definitely should be in power, but that's not my priority,” Moreno, 29, told GBH News. “I don't think that's the priority of a lot of people here.”

Moreno said the ongoing national movement for racial equality has major implications in Boston, where he grew up. “The city is racist, it's segregated and it has discriminated against people of color, Indigenous people and Black folks,” he said. “The election is not the end. Coronavirus doesn’t stop, racism doesn't stop, inequality doesn't stop. People still don't know where their next meal is going to come from. That's not going to change until people in government actually do something about it.”

Protesters march from Nubian Square to Copley Square on Nov. 4, 2020.
Joanie Tobin GBH

Boston City Councilor and mayoral candidate Andrea Campbell, who stood at the back of the crowd in Nubian Square, said she agrees with that assessment of the city.

“I think for many, they want to say it's just a perception, but I represent a district right now that is predominantly a district of color in the city of Boston, and if you talk to people on the ground, they will absolutely say that the reality is that Boston is a racist city,” Campbell told GBH News. “What do they mean by that? COVID-19 devastating communities of color, all the poor people being concentrated in public housing that hasn't been renovated in 30 years, inequitable access to education, to jobs, to benefits — the list is long. All of these inequities run down the line, are broken up by race, by Black and Brown people disproportionately experiencing these inequities. That's because of race and racism.”

At the front of the group, Blaze Travis from the Socialist Alternative group called on the crowd to “start a movement” in the face of not just Trump’s legacy of policies, but a potential four years of a more centrist option.

“What did the Democrats provide as an answer to our hatred of Trump and his base and the Proud Boys and the billionaire class? They delivered down on us the most risky and uninspiring candidate imaginable to take on Trump, Joe Biden,” Travis said. “In the middle of a country on fire, flooded, hungry, sick and unemployed, Biden came out of the gate saying if he was elected, nothing would fundamentally change.”

Travis urged the crowd to continue protesting — for students to walk out of classes, for labor unions to strike.

“We need a mass movement, and with any mass movement we build, if it's capable of toppling Trump and his reactionary base and defending our democracy, then we cannot and we should not just stop there,” Travis said. “We need to go out to make sure our movement goes beyond what is acceptable for Trump or even Biden, and that means taking up the demands that speak to us real working people.”

The long list of demands from activists in the organization includes curriculum changes in public schools to include Indigeonous history, funding to curb economic inequality in schools, reparations for slavery, a freeze on rent and mortgage payments during the pandemic, free COVID-19 testing, free housing for the homeless, hazard pay for essential workers, the release of inmates convicted for non-violent offenses, higher wages for union workers and the passage of a Green New Deal.

Before protesters peacefully dispersed into the cold night, Yaritza Dudley emphasized another goal of the movement, one oft-repeated through the protests of the summer: defund the Boston Police Department, “who continue to distribute bullets through our bodies for target practice,” she said.

A Biden presidency, Dudley warned, would not solve this problem.

“These things will keep happening because it is the system,” Dudley told the crowd. “They will try to disillusion us by telling us that things are better now, Trump is going to be gone soon. But that capitalist scum was simply the product of an oppressive blueprint that was laid out long before him.”