Occupy Boston: Let them eat birthday cake
Exactly one year after Occupy Boston set up camp at Dewey Square, a couple hundred protesters took to the streets to relay a message: "We're still here!
Occupy Boston supporters got together at the State House Sunday to celebrate the first anniversary of the Dewey Square camp out with cake, food and music before topping it off with a march to the Greenway stomping grounds, but with a lackluster turnout and little evidence of change since last September, the movement has appeared to fizzle.
At noon, about 60 people descended on a drizzly Beacon Hill – but it looked as though it was equal parts Occupiers, media and looky-loos.
There were bongos, a few lone musicians, brownies, pasta salad, black balloons, and lots of birthday cake, as well as signs that read, "This is what democracy looks like" and "Still here Occupy."
Someone pitched a tiny red tent, and wrote the message "U r being cheated, " and supporters filled a big gray sack with garbage bags, and labeled it "debt" and "student loans."
A fake pig's severed head was perched on a box on the Beacon Street sidewalk - open to interpretation - and there were a few clustered conversations about capitalism and politics, spurts of short-lived chanting, and no soapbox speeches.
But for the dedicated few who showed up, the Occupy movement is still very much alive.
"It is rare that you can walk down a street in this country and find someone who does not know the term 'the 99 percent.' That is an unbelievable success," said Bil Lewis, an Occupy Boston supporter.
When asked about whether the movement has lost its momentum, Occupier Steve Revilak said:
"Over the past year, yes, there are fewer people involved, but the people who have remained with it I think are incredibly dedicated and incredibly energetic about what they’re working on."
By mid-afternoon, more supporters joined the demonstration, and by 3 p.m., 200 chanting Occupiers were trickling into Dewey Square, where more than 20 Boston Police officers were waiting.
Police there said tents of any kind were off limits, and with no public speakers slated for the Dewey Square gathering, Occupiers mostly milled about the space with mild energy. A black banner rested on the grass, with a message: "Get off your knees we got sold out."
The sun made an abrupt appearance about 40 minutes into it, prompting a few hoots and howls, but no rowdiness.
Although Boston Police had eight cars and one paddy wagon ready to go, as of deadline no arrests were made, and a spokesman for the department described the demonstration as "peaceful in manner."
Police had no estimate Sunday as to how much the extra security cost the city.
After last year's Dewey Square occupation ended, the Greenway's
Executive Director Nancy Brennan estimated the cleanup cost would run
the conservancy $40,000 to $60,000, a far shot from the $15,000 they
During their first week of occupation, protesters
vowed to help restore the land when they left, and in December reported
raising $3,000 to go toward the refurbishment.
A spokesperson for
Occupy Boston told Metro Sunday, "I do know that we were prepared to
help and to my knowledge the Greenway said no. And moved so fast, we
didn't have a chance." The spokesperson also said the organization has
"not gotten much beyond small, specific donations."
Sunday's demonstration left the square unscathed.
"Last year we were having marches of about 2,000 people, so it's clearly diminished," said Ryan Mosgrove, a UMass Boston student and Occupy Supporter. "I mean, honestly, I think a big factor is that Occupy wasn't able to win anything concrete, and we weren't able to have a victory, which is always damaging to any movement. Because of that it's sort of driven off a lot of people."