Occupy Boston: Activist group vies for Hub takeover
When Guy Steward heard from fellow protestor and Hub-native Nelson Terry about the progress that Boston had made in trying to occupy the city, he bought a bus ticket from New York right away.
“Occupy Boston” members, a group of protestors echoing the movements demonstrated on Wall Street to fight the corporate system, had gathered for the second time in a week and already picked a protest point to take over in the Hub—Dewey Square.
When he feasted his eye on the more than 200 rally-goers Wednesday night on Boston Common, Steward said he was impressed with how well “The 99 percent” had organized themselves in a general assembly.
Steward, one of the original facilitators for New York City’s “Occupy Wall Street,” said what he saw in Boston could only be described with one word.
“It’s beautiful,” he said. “I came to share my experience from New York and show how it developed. This is beautiful what they have done in Boston. It’s completely horizontal and a beautiful new way of holding public process.”
In New York, Steward said it took more than four hours just to pick a web server to host their protest information when trying to organize, and a total of eight weeks to get the wheels in motion for occupation.
But in Boston, in less than two days, more than 3,000 people joined a Facebook page to hop on the protest wagon and another 300 showed up for night one of the revolt.
While those numbers dwindled on night two, the second scheduled meeting was still plentiful.
Steward’s friend Terry and activist Robin Jacks helped plant the seed for the gatherings by doubling up on Twitter to cultivate interest.
While “Occupy Wall Street” is currently in its second week of protests in New York, with thousands of people camping along the streets of the financial district, by day two in Boston yesterday, the Hub group had most of their occupation scheduled for this Friday planned out.
The “Occupy Boston” clan decided to take cues from old-school protests Wednesday, and not apply for permitting when camping out in Dewey Square, their desired destination.
The decision was made by general consensus after close to an hour of deliberation that included individual speakers pointing out both pros and cons to the permitting process.
If they were to pursue a permit it would set limitations on their goal and restrict the occupation said Eric, who wouldn’t give his last name, as he shouted to more than 200 people from the podium during the speaker segment Wednesday night.
A second activist, Daniel, said the “police are not their friends” and by getting a legal permit to occupy Dewey Square, they would be paying police to essentially watch over them.
“Our only hope for avoiding arrest is through maintaining solidarity,” he said.
A third speaker echoed Andy’s speech.
“If we get a permit, it’s not an occupation. It’s called camping,” they said.
Following the decision to act without legal permitting, Steward said he was amazed by how Boston had sculpted its movement so far.
“It really has its own set of standards,” he said. “If they keep doing what they are doing, everything will be A-OK.”
Facilitated by several mediators, “Occupy Boston” members went from general assembly and split furiously into tactical groups, organizing themselves into sub-genres in order to move their message forward to make occupation in South Boston possible pronto.
After formulating into the subgroups, the general assembly reconvened and delivered updates.
One meal was scheduled to get served everyday during occupation by this group, who said it would enlist volunteers to distribute it.
The general assembly voted and agreed that 3 p.m. would be the ideal feasting hour while they camp out.
Those planning on “Occupying Boston” were told to bring their own forks, knives, bowls and cups—-nothing disposable, however.
The “Food group” said they will be cooking from various locations, making sure “common allergen foods” are avoided, according to John, the spokesperson for the collective.
A steady flow of water is expected 24/7, they said, although the details of how to make that happen haven’t been set in stone.
“And if anyone can bring some coffee, I think people might really like that,” joked John.
Group representatives Nicole and Amanda said they would be splitting followers up by neighborhood to engage locals, residents, and storeowners in an effort to inform them about the occupation.
On Wednesday night, Amanda said neighborhoods like Somerville, Brighton, Brookline, Dorchester, Roxbury and a handful more would be the focus of the outreach.
Amanda said they are also working on setting up tables at colleges around the city to solicit student involvement.
ARTS AND MUSIC
If “Occupy Boston” holds its ground, there is a chance those taking over Dewey Square will get bored after several days without power, laptops, or other gadgets.
To stop the insanity of doing nothing but sitting, Julie, one of the “Art Group” volunteers said workshops will be hosted on location to teach people about protesting, guidelines for general consensus, how to understand the Feds, and, of course, a Drag show and puppet performances.
Over the next two days organizers have planned to setup workshops to teach the basics behind self-sanitation, how to dress wounds and what to do if you get pepper-sprayed by police.
Through wellness groups and “mini-medic trainings,” this group has vowed to keep everyone’s health in check.
“Pepper spray looks scary, and it hurts, but we have the tools to deal with it,” said Tinea, the subgroups speaker.
The group is in negotiations with the National Lawyers Guild, a non-profit federation of lawyers, legal workers, and law students aimed at advancing social justice.
The guild has indicated it may provide legal observers and lawyers for the protest planned Friday, according to Mary, the subgroup’s advocate.
“I urge you to go online and find out what your rights are,” she shouted to the crowd during general assembly. “And don’t bring violence, drugs or alcohol.”
Probably the most debated issue revolving around “Occupy Wall Street” and its spawning predecessors nationwide is figuring out what the point of the occupations are.
On Wednesday night, Boston’s group made an effort to outline why they are grouping together to go sit in Dewey Square and sleep in tents.
Although group members said it was difficult to bring everyone’s vision and anger against “a corporate system” under one umbrella, they mashed demands together into a less disorganized list.
“Get corporations and bank influence out of government, bail out people, not banks…create a work and life balance with a fair living wage for less hours, with more time to create community,” said John, a group spokesman, as he rattled off demands.