Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Standing with Occupy Boston - Part 1

This week has definitely been an intense week.  I don't think I knew how intense this week was going to be.  But, are you ready to hear all about my experience with the Occupy Boston protest?

Oh.  I see.  You don't really watch the news or don't know what all this Occupy [Insert Location Here] stuff is?  Well, here's an explanation from the Occupy Boston website:
Occupy Boston is the beginning of an ongoing discussion about reforming Wall Street and removing special interests from government. The continuing occupation of Dewey Square (outside South Station) is just one of more than 120 separate Occupy encampments in cities across the nation and a symbol for “Occupiers” everywhere who support real and lasting change.
And here's a great video of a former Representative of Florida explaining the cause to a T, originally posted by Ms. Arnetta Green at "This May Sound Crazy But":

So, I had been wanting to go just to check out the camp since I was hearing about the Occupy Wall St. protests.  I just didn't really have the time.  But luckily, on October 10th, with many places observing "Columbus Day," I decided that would be a great time to go see it.  There was also a march planned, and I couldn't even imagine not being part of it.

As I left the house, the boyfriend/roommate jokingly said, "Have fun! Don't get arrested!"  I scoffed, "Oh, c'mon! It's not even like that! It's just a march!"  Clearly, this was some foreshadowing.

I arrive just in time to see the Student March ending at South Station.  I was a bit sad that no one was able to join me, but it felt thrilling to see so many people supporting the movement.
Protesters at South Station
After the march proceeded down the street, I took a quick walk through the encampment.  There were tents covering the entirety of Dewey Square.  Every square inch was taken over by the Occupy Boston camp, from tents to signs to people.
So many tents...
After looking around a bit, I joined walked quickly to join the march.  I figured it would be somewhat of a loop around downtown.  But we walked for nearly 2 hours, through downtown past Government Center and the North End.
so many people!
part of the 99%
even dogs can march along!
Many signs simply asked for more jobs
Go Bruins!
Near the end of the march, we stopped at the Washington Street bridge to Charlestown.  Suddenly, the march came to a halt.  Some of the marchers wanted to continue onto the bridge, but it was blocked by several police officers.

There seemed to be some disagreement as to whether we were allowed to/should cross the bridge or not.  I found out later that one of the Iron Workers Union members wanted to storm the bridge, and was promptly arrested for disobeying the cops' orders.  Being that the bridge to Charlestown is in such disrepair, and yet they aren't hiring the unemployed iron workers, I could understand his drive.
Temperature Check
But while we were there, a spontaneous General Assembly (more on this later) was held to decide whether to go on the bridge or not.  There was a bit of disagreement from the crowd, from people chanting "Our Bridge! Our Bridge!" to people thinking it would not be in the movement's favor to clash with the police at that moment.

Truth be told, it made me wonder a bit about the organization of the march.  Yes, it was powerful and we saw both support and disagreement from passers-by.  But why wasn't there a designated route?  Clearly that's the event organizer speaking.  But it could have definitely prevented this situation.

At some point during the General Assembly, some folks started getting wind that the police were threatening to take down the camp site.  So, some groups continued to march around the North End, while others went back to the camp site.  That's when we saw that several tents had popped up on another section of the Rose Kennedy Greenway.
Tents on the Greenway
At this point, I started hearing people talk about how the police have already told them they needed to take the tents back to the original campsite at Dewey Square.  But, what's a movement without any civil disobedience?

The organizers started going around throughout the new campsite to encourage people to stay and protect the second campsite. Within the next half hour, I noticed several police officers gathering across the street, possibly discussing what course of action they should take.
do you see the police?
A couple more minutes pass, and I realize that the Police Commissioner is also part of the crowd of police officers.  Soon, Occupy Boston representatives are letting us know that they are giving us til nightfall before closing in on the second camp.  Then, we hear that Mayor Menino has given Occupy Boston until midnight to clear the second camp.

This was when the Occupy Boston representatives and other experienced activists started telling us about the possibility of being arrested.

...to be continued...

1 comment:

  1. Can't wait for Part 2. (And thanks for the shout out!)


Well, hello there! What's on your mind?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...