Occupy Boston: Live coverage of the protest

An actor playing on the words of Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney was yelled at by protesters from the Occupy Boston group who didn't get his "joke."

TUESDAY 10/4

12:30 p.m.
Occupy Boston was in full swing this afternoon with protesters walking along the sidewalks holding signs, “occupods” attending the General Assembly, and even some people meditating in a giant tent with faux-candles.

But corporate America was biting back against the squad of supporters that have been living in bungalows inside the Financial District.

Or were they?

Ian McKinnon, a street performer and actor, donning his best “corporate look,” stood with a sign that said “Corporations are people too.”

While some thought Mckinnon was rallying for giant corporations, it turns out he was just messing around, using “satire” to show support for the Occupy Boston movement.

McKinnon was riling people up on Atlantic Avenue by using the now famous words of Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who in August said “corporations are people, my friend,” in response to a protester at the Iowa State Fair who said corporations should be taxed.

McKinnon’s sign “Corporations are People too,” didn’t go over well, however, with residents of Tent City Square.

They didn’t get the reference, said McKinnon.

But McKinnon let Occupy Boston supporters get their frustration for corporations out on the street curb for several minutes.

He stood there, getting berated by members of ”the 99 percent,” specifically one gentleman who went through the trouble of making a counter-sign that said “This Guy is a B****.”    (see photo)

When people in cars passed by, who also didn’t seem to get the joke McKinnon was trying to make, they would honk in support.

A passenger in one car that stopped in support of McKinnon’s sign was harassed by the Occupy Boston man, who started calling him derogatory terms, making fun of the car he drove, and even calling him a “b****.”

But McKinnon stayed all smiles. He even put his thumbs up when Metro snapped a photo.

He told the Metro afterwards that he was just trying to get the “Occupy” people revved up to keep their message prominent.

“I’m being sarcastic, I’m in character,” said McKinnon.

He even told the group that was yelling at him about his sign that he was being satirical, but they continued to argue with him as he stayed in character.

“These people who drive by and smile, I don’t think they get the joke,” said McKinnon. “I don’t think the [Occupy Boston] message is strong and all I’m doing is helping them out—giving their protest a kick start.”

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MONDAY 10/3

12:50 p.m.
Numbers weren’t as strong Monday morning when “Occupy Boston” met for it’s daily General Assembly, mostly due to some “occupods” having to return to their regularly scheduled classes or job duties.

But the public’s interest in Tent City Square had peoples’ heads turning as they passed by the makeshift community—and outsiders are becoming more engulfed in the movement.

Last night, two representatives from the Boston Taxi Driver’s Union spoke at an assembly in front of hundreds saying they backed what the “occupods” are trying to accomplish.

“We are trying to get the labor support behind us,” said one of the representatives.

The second Union member said the “taxi business” is a vicious circle that they need to get out of.

Occupy Boston members, both embedded on Dewey Square and those who just stop in for frequent meetings, have been reaching out to community members to make the movement all-inclusive.

Using fliers, posters, and even starting Outreach and Direct Action Groups, one representative at Sunday night’s meeting said “it is our job not to alienate but to educate” anyone that passes by the encampment.

The group collectively agreed during assembly that it was critical to let workers in the Financial Buildings surrounding Tent City Square that they too are “the 99 percent.”

Devon, a 21-year-old Vermont native, said he came to Boston on his moped last night “’Dumb and Dumber’ style” because he wanted to be part of that community outreach.

“I want people to know why we are here and why we feel so strongly about this,” he said. “We need more people around here who have a lot to say.”

Devon presented the idea of making over 200 t-shirts and distributing them to “Occupy’s” Direct Action Committee, so the group had “an appropriate look” with a solid message on the back of each shirt.

The group collective at Monday’s morning meeting were in favor of the initiative, wiggling their fingers in the air, which is the sign the “occupods” use when in favor of something, rather than clapping and cheering.

“While wearing the shirts, I think we should do some community service work as well,” said Devon.

The group has been giving back to Boston, seeing as it has taken over a piece of land that was meant for public use.

While they have welcomed members from the community into their encampment—Devon told Metro he stayed up until 4:30 a.m. giving out food to homeless people in the area—they have also had some problems with outsiders.

A group member voiced concern at the Monday assembly about a homeless person that had come into Tent City intoxicated and entered someone’s tent while they were asleep.

“It’s not a question of whether or not the homeless can stay here,” said a facilitator to the crowd gathered on what remains of the grassy-area in Dewey Square. “We are talking about whether or not they should be allowed to come here drunk  and just walk into a tent—because that is what happened last night.”

In earlier collectives  the group voted that drugs and alcohol were not allowed on the premise—something outside of the groups own mini-community that is illegal anyways—but a discussion on the incident from last night was tabled and will be brought up again tomorrow within the group’s conflict resolution meeting.


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SUNDAY 10/2

12:20 p.m.
I went to the General Assembly this morning at the “Occupy” site.

They have their tents set up like a mini-city with sidewalks made of cardboard to pass through all the shelter. It’s a pretty crazy site to see with the contrast of the self-made structures up against the city buildings.

As for the actual assembly this morning, it was plentiful in numbers, but some conflict has already started to work its way into the community.

One “Occupod,” (that’s what I’m calling those who sleep there, so go with it) said he was allegedly threatened by another because he hung an American Flag upside down outside of his tent.

“He threatened to put a bullet through my head,” said Brandon, who claimed another “occupod” had some disagreements with the way he chose to raise the flag.

After brief discussion in the General Assembly, and Brandon voicing his concern over his personal safety, however, the alleged offender came up to him and apologized and the conflict was squashed.

The two shook hands and it was done with.  

I caught up with Brandon after the discussion and he told me “before it even became a bigger issue they managed to resolve it,” and he no longer felt unsafe in the mini-society.

“We can’t be divided right now,” said Brandon. “I’m glad it worked itself out.”

Under the circumstances, people are going to bump heads. Differing views mixed with a lack of showers and cold nights with little sleep will often bring up some unpleasant feelings in some people.

Other issues the encampment is facing had to do with space. A few speakers noted that they felt as though people would be less likely to join the giant sleepover if there wasn’t enough room for them to set up their shelters.

Already, the small field of grass at Dewey Square is jammed with tents and tarps, with only a few feet to navigate between the cardboard streets they have created.

A discussion on that issue is scheduled to be held at tonight’s General Assembly at 7 p.m.

Besides space, the group wanted to set limits on after hour instrument playing.

Apparently some “Occupods” haven’t been catching the sleep they hope to as they camp out because musicians are allegedly staying up late night rocking away on drums and saxophones.

That’ll be brought up later tonight as well.

On the flipside, today’s assembly also brought out people who aren’t planning on sleeping on site, but just want to make donations in support of the “Occupy” movement.

An older couple from Brookline asked where they could drop off food supplies near the site, or even a monetary donation.

“We heard about what was going on in New York, and we know how ineffective things are in helping youth,” said MaryBeth Ortega.

Ortega, a Brookline resident who showed up with her husband, said they would participate in marches, but didn’t plan on sleeping over. Yet.

“The spirit here is wonderful,” she said. “We want to support this movement.”

Following a food collection announcement the group said that homeless members of the Boston community were showing up to Tent City Square for food donations—-and they have been supplying them.

A facilitator mentioned creating a group to address the needs of the homeless, including food donations, and said he wanted to set up a crew to collect cans from people in the community so they could help with that distribution.


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9:34 a.m.
Before I get to what I’m calling “Tent City Square,” which is actually the Dewey Square area across the street from South Station, I am going to recap a few things that happened at the second night of Occupy Boston last night.

It seems as though the group is in cahoots with the city in many ways. During marches yesterday that had hundreds of protesters flooding the streets of Boston, the Boston Police Department allegedly held traffic in some areas, and blocked cars from traveling momentarily on side streets abutting Newbury Street so that the rally-goers could march without the risk of getting run down.

Saw some interesting Tweets during that march yesterday, which took place around 4 p.m.

One lady that wasn’t even involved with Occupy Boston’s movement tweeted that she was glad the group interrupted her shopping spree on Newbury Street because it prevented her from buying expensive shoes.

Later on, during another General Assembly, which drew yet again an ample crowd outside of the people that are actually sleeping there, one of the activists from the “Tactical Group” said they have been in contact with MassDOT and worked out a few deals.

MassDOT owns the Dewey Square, I mean, Tent City Square property.

I reported on Friday, after speaking with a rep. from the department, that they were fine with the rabble-rousers holding down the grounds, as long as they respected it.

An update yesterday indicated that MassDOT even worked out a schedule to pick up their trash and made them promise to re-seed the grass that has been trampled from all the foot action going on over there.

MassDOT also allegedly told the group they are allowed to keep signs up on the walls but can’t block doors or use outlets.

Seems fair, right?

They have been busy in Tent City Square. I haven’t seen it just yet on “Day Three of Occupation”….but I’m headed there now.

One facilitator told me I am in for a surprise.

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SATURDAY 10/1

12:30 p.m.
The “Occupy” project seems to be one of those things that happens as it goes along. While some planning was put in place prior to the actual takeover of Dewey Square, now it seems more like a free for all.

“Everything moves really quickly,” said Lindsey Mysse, a member of the “Food Group.”

Mysse said people spent the night “freezing,” but managed to have a good time, keeping each other entertained by talking politics and joking around.

“We had a blast,” he said.

Running on an hour of sleep, Mysse was spending the afternoon sorting food with his group members. He said the biggest problem they are facing right now is staying dry and keeping food organized because the amount of donations that have come in.

“We had to toss a bunch of bread that got soaked, but that’s about it,” he said.

Last night someone saw that the group was cold and needed some hot water through Tweets that had surfaced under the Occupy Boston hashtag.

 Out of no where, said Mysse, “some dude” showed up with two vats of boiling hot water, dropped it off at the camp and left.

“He said he heard that we wanted hot water through Twitter,” said Mysse. “We made instant coffee with it, and seriously, it was the best instant coffee I have ever had.”

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12:00 p.m.
I don’t think anyone down here will be paying rent today, the first of the month, to sleep in their tents in Dewey Square.

While there definitely isn’t people by the thousands at day two of Occupation in Dewey Square, there is still a horde of people here in protest.

More than 22 tents went up between last night and this morning as people threw together shelters to stay in on the muddy lawn near South Station.

They survived the rain, and made the best of it, one protester told me.

Some shelters are makeshift—nothing more than a tarp tied to a tree or structure on the grounds. Others are massive five or six person tents that people are sharing.

Another protester, selling seaweed and educating people on its health benefits, said he slept in a one person tent with four people. More on that in a minute.

Roughly 50 or so people who have been holding down the fort, separating food, sitting in subgroups to chat about the days events and the marches they have planned, also met in a smaller general Assembly around noon.

The issue they are facing is placement of their makeshift shelters. If numbers are as great as they were on Friday night, there will be no space for people to stand during general assemblies. The tents take up quite a bit of space.


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FRIDAY 09/31
10:15 p.m.
Tents went up fast. Real fast.

It sort of felt like being at an all day music festival, except the music in the background was replaced with people chanting through the use of “the peoples’ mic.”

There was a place for medical supplies, with volunteers wearing red crosses on their shirts.

A line started to form where free water and food was being distributed. Someone even brought a bunch of pizzas and passed slices out to the hungry crowd.

The group of “Occupy” protesters should feel lucky. For the hours I was there, police didn’t bother them. It even sounded as if they gave them some guidelines to follow. Whether or not they decide to follow them isn’t certain, but the overall message seemed to be “we will remain peaceful.”

By the time I left, word that 400 people would be marching through the streets of Downtown Boston and that someone had brought the group a generator so they would have a power supply had surfaced.

8:40 p.m.

A recap of some of what the “Tactical Group” and “Legal Group” reported to the masses:

The group took a poll on how many of them were going to spend the night—-while there are tons of people here,  only about 50 or so raised their hands.

It’s just night one, but they are setting up an encampment to “keep everybody as safe and comfortable as possible,” said a speaker.

The speaker said “Non-food donations can be brought to tactical headquarters.”

“The park has access to free Wi-Fi, and it is probably being monitored and you should take that into consideration,” said the speaker.

Bathrooms at South Station are being used, and they are opened most of the day and into the night, but for a few hours they are closed. So people have to hold it in until they reopen in the morning.

Boston Police have told the group that if they want to march they have to give officers 15 minutes notice first, the facilitator said while she doesn’t know if she  wants to do that, they had to announce it.

Police also allegedly told the group that tents and tarps were OK to use on the lawn. The speaker encouraged the group not to speak to officers.

“But remember…when they want to arrest s or move us, they will be against us,” she said.

They are also establishing a system of collecting trash to maintain the park. Locations around the park where trash and recycling can be dropped off.

People were also told to write on their arms the numbers to the legal hotlines in case of arrest or confrontation with police, but I haven’t even seen much police activity here.

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8:20 p.m.

During General Assembly, Nademe, a media team member helped kick off the night.

He stayed humble and said that he didn’t intend to run for the facilitator spot, but he took it.

“I read a sign that said the beginning is here,” he said.  “It is the beginning.”

Nademe said during a speech “The top 1 percent hold 50 percent of America’s wealth. More importantly many use that wealth to undermine the Democratic process. I am here because this can change everything. “

The crowd of thousands repeated his words through the peoples’ mic.

While cheering was encouraged during the first three rallies, they said to use hand signals later cause it’ll slow them down.

According to one of the facilitators, Robin Jacks, who helped launch the initiative, these are some reason they are occupying:

“There is no single demand and we want fundamental change… Democracy is not for sale. We are the 99 percent. We are not being represented equally by our government and our basic needs are not being met. We are here to inspire a nationwide movement to challenge the status quo of an economic system that currently support both our government and our social fabric…we must restore the promise of America. We are the 99 percent.”

The crowd repeated every word—with cheers in between.

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8:00 p.m.
Using the “People’s Mic” a technique where the facilitator speaks and then the crowd repeats what he or she says, a speaker talk to a crowd of heads that overflowed on the lawn at Dewey Square.

In the crowd, one “occupier” said “I can’t believe this, what are we up to 1,000 people?”

Someone responded, “I don’t know. Could be more.”

Everyone sat on the lawn for the meeting.

First order of business was learning the language. While I have learned it many nights ago when only 200 people showed up, the new sea of faces needed to learn the signals.

Facilitators took the time to go over all the symbols and hand motions so people can communicate effectively.

7:40 p.m.

Twenty-four-year-old Matt Hinds has a waterproof backpack so he isn’t too concerned about the rain.

He is concerned, however, about the way America is operating he said.

“Personally I feel tied down by giant corporations,” said Hinds, a long-haired native Californian.
Hinds said part of the reason he joined “occupy” was because he thinks the “system is not functioning” they way he thinks it should be.

With gripes over how organic foods are expensive, but foods that are bad for you are cheap, Hinds plans on camping out for as long as he can.

“I’m hoping more people will hear about this and it will draw some attention,” he said.

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7:25 p.m.
They are currently holding a media working group, amongst many other subgroups to discuss what is going to happen next. All this before the General Assembly to be held at 7:45.

The Media Group s giving talking points on how to deal with the media.

They made some good points, gave advice on how to chat with guys like me.

But here are some of my own pointers.

Be friendly. I’m not here to take you down, I’m just here to observe.

Give me your last name. It is a pain having to write long stories with only first names. Sometimes it loses its validity.

Say hello. Again. I am here to watch and observe as this happens.

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6:50 p.m.
A guy named Josh who works in the area set up a little spot for himself, his wife and their 2-year-old daughter.

They don’t plan on staying the night, mostly because it wouldn’t be fair to their kid, but Josh told me that he planned on stopping in as long as the “Occupy” took place to help out in any way he could.

“I just wanted to see what was going on,” he said. “I’ll probably just come by, see if there is anything I can do, drop off some food.”

Josh said he doesn’t know what’s going to happen with the occupation, but he is glad that something is happening.

“It’s great to see young people speaking up,” he said.

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6:30 p.m.
Just a few minutes into “Occupy Boston” following a protests from another activist group called “Right to the City” which targeted Bank of America and led to several arrests, people have hunkered down at Dewey Square with backpacks on their shoulders, food supplies in their bags, and tents ready to go up.

A “General Assembly” will be held, as announced by one facilitator over a megaphone.

At 7:45 a group of what looks like more than 300 people will discuss the next step in taking over this portion of Boston, docked between some of the city’s biggest financial establishments.

From side conversations I overheard while blending into the crowd, there was a slight dispute over whether or not the group should move to a location further down the road as to not disrupt the Farmers’ Markets that occupy Dewey Square on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

But at the General Assembly held Wednesday on Boston Common the vote was to stay at Dewey. And stay at Dewey they will.

Besides the masses of those in support of “Occupying Boston,” bystanders shuffling through South Station sat on the sidelines observing all the action.

Helicopters circled overhead and groups of Boston Police Officers stood nearby. But they didn’t bother the “Occupy” group.

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5:20 p.m.
Following the movement in New York City to Occupy Wall Street, Boston has started to descend onto Dewey Square near South Station and set up camping headquarters in protest of “civil inequality” and “a corporate system that doesn’t work.”

Reporter Steve Annear will be making updates from the site of the occupation in Boston’s Financial District as the protests continue.



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