#OccupyBoston Is Winning: How Day One on #DeweySquare Went Down




All photos by Ariel Shearer

[Ed note: Our liveblog with Tweets, videos, and photos is here. Follow our correspondent Ariel Shearer on Twitter @arielshearer for real-time updates from #OccupyBoston. This is her account of yesterday's encampment on Dewey Square. If journalism is the first draft of history, this is draft 0.5 -- be aware that the account below was scribbled on the back of a napkin at 3:30 am. Ariel's already back on-site and will have updates throughout the day.]

6pm: BoA protest starts to dissipate. That crowd was made up of all ages, races, ethnicities, political affiliations. Really an awesome show of solidarity (For more on Take Back the City, which continues today, read Faraone's piece). Favorite chant: "MOVE banks, get out tha way, get out tha way...")

6:30pm: Skip over a few blocks to Dewey Square. Young adults congregating with backpacks, sleeping bags, tents and provisions. I speak with some SMFA students planning to spend the night.

7:30pm: Camp has grown. Tents are assembled. The majority of the crowd is young, with sprinklings of well-dressed older men and women, children, but few elderly. There are lawyers from the NLG wearing green hats available to offer guidance.

7:45pm: Start first general assembly. [To watch the complete General Assembly meeting, click here.] It felt like a giant kindergarten class trying to form a make-shift democracy in the middle of the financial district. The crowd sits in the grass facing the far end of the green -- where a flock of facilitators stand (including Gregg Housh) and take turns getting the ball rolling.

First they establish the "people's mic" -- a now-familiar communication method utilized during Tuesday's first general assembly. The people's mic instructs the speaker (with or without blow horn) to break up their point into about 5-word sentences, that are then repeated back by the crowd so everyone can hear everything, twice. The added echo from being surrounded by huge buildings made it really fucking eerie to hear that many people (police estimate: around 300) speaking in unison.

When they want to know if people feel a specific issue should be voted on (be it food, community outreach, tactics, legal) -- rather than just voting, the facilitators first "take the temperature" of how the crowd is feeling. If the crowd agrees with a concept, they put their hands in the air and wiggle their fingers. So they do a 'should we vote on this?' vote, then the subsequent vote -- and they save the "bad" voting ideas for future discussions if the topic is better suited for a different meeting (points of focus for meetings are split up just like the working groups were on Tuesday).

The assembly starts with a lot of pride-building talk. (Hearing one speaker's "I Love You" echoed through the people's mic = awwwwww.) There's instruction as to how the ad-hock democracy will be run: every time an individual really disagrees with something, they put their hands up kinda like a Jay-Z diamond to indicate they wish to make a "point of process" and offer their suggestion. This is a great way to get a few points across, but even a modest discussion becomes something of a challenge. When discussion turned to plans for visiting CollegeFest on Saturday to recruit (because "there are people there who will want to know about us"), the People's Mic was needed to broadcast a back-and-forth: "What is Colege Fest?" "WHAT IS COLLEGE FEST?" "We are not protesting College Fest." "WE ARE NOT PROTESTING COLLEGE FEST." "We are not going inside College Fest." "WE ARE NOT GOING INSIDE COLLEGE FEST." It was like an IM conversation enacted by the audience at a hardcore show. Everybody was really into this crazy weird group-chat. Lots of laughing, smiles, happy people. Free fucking food from the food not bombs guy. A commune of sorts.

After the assembly, the Occupiers decided to march through Downtown cCossing. I took this time to chat with more protesters setting up tents. Met a very interesting cat named Gaetano Santo. He spent time down on Wall Street, but is from here, and made sure to tell me everyone in Boston really wanted to keep it calm and safe and a police-free zone.

Then, this totally zonked out chick on the ground next to us was visited by the designated "medics." These gals and guy each wore a red cross on their chest, one of them is an EMT, one a med student. The EMT said, "She's not responding to painful stimulus" -- and that we needed to call someone. The cops reacted cool and calm -- but a state trooper came over and barked some shit at Gaetano because he didn't like the way the kid wore a bandana on his face.

Since the bulk of the group was still off marching, the police realized this chick was a homeless junkie they knew. The medics helped her to the sidewalk with her boyfriend to wait for ambulance. Point is: Boston cops were in the middle of camp and did not do anything crazy.

But then, the marchers come rushing up, megaphones blaring: "RALLY AT THE FED! RALLY AT THE FED!"

Outside the fed, marchers keep chanting "WE - ARE - THE 99 PERCENT " and once cops arrive to block the massive glass front of the building, "YOU - ARE - THE 99 PERCENT " and " WHO DO YOU PROTECT? WHO DO YOU SERVE?" with a bunch of "WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER"

At one point, a facilitator announces that the state police are ready to force them to leave if they do not go on their own. The announcer says, "We have a choice. Do we want to cross the line tonight?" But with an attempt to vote on "crossing the line" (can you believe it? "Let's vote on if we are going to piss off the police!" right in front of a wall of police!), completely mixed vocal responses from the crowd created a totally awkward group moment.

As the musicians in the crowd started to take control of the strange situation, the announcer concluded that the group would hang out a bit more in front of the Fed but then return to camp for another meeting. Meetings feel like a reward after a bunch of marching and shouting.

As the occupiers beat drums and jumped around, waving flags, chanting an even more impassioned "WE ARE THE 99 PERCENT!!"

They're playful, not angry. They're having a fucking ball. I'm remembering the way this WHOLE occupy movement started -- with a twitter account called USdayofRage!

Where the day of rage failed, these DAYS of occupation are succeeding -- it might be the fact these folks aren't really angry when they're together.

| More

 Friends' Activity   Popular 
All Blogs
Follow the Phoenix
  • newsletter
  • twitter
  • facebook
  • youtube
  • rss
Latest Comments
Search Blogs
Phlog Archives