It was a great day for Occupy Boston. On the heels of drawing support from Boston labor unions, the Dewey Square ranks swelled to include students from Northeastern who walked out -- and blocked off Atlantic Avenue to traffic, risking arrest. Six busloads of nurses arrived in mid-afternoon to offer the biggest show of outside support for the rally to date. And then there was Cornel West, who delivered a fiery message of hope, love, justice, and solidarity. (The Phoenix happened to have a dozen reporters on the scene -- we'd decided to hold our weekly editorial meeting at the Occupation. Watch our uncut video of West's speech and see more photos here.) Late today, the movement got another boost when the Mass Teachers Association threw its weight behind the protests.
None of which erases what is increasingly obvious to anyone who's spending quality time on Dewey Square: once the cameras go home, the nightly General Assembly is growing increasingly fragmented. There are sustained angry outbursts. (We're archiving the nightly General Assembly broadcasts on our Live Blog over here.) On Wall Street, the greatest threats to the movement are external. In Boston, the greatest threats at this point are clearly internal. One protester tweeted that in the absence of an external enemy -- such as a hostile police force -- the occupiers are turning their aggressive energy on themselves. And no one would deny that there are conflicting elements, ideologies, agendas under those tents: this is what democracy looks like. It's messy. It's contentious. It is not always polite. But there's an edge to some of the procedural battles that begins to feel worrisome: the Occupation's ability to de-balkanize itself may well be the greatest test of its union.
If they can keep their fragile republic afloat, the Occupiers seem on the verge of attracting a much broader base of support -- in the face of relentless coverage by the likes of the Phoenix, Open Media Boston, and (who'da thunk it?) the Metro, the mainstream television and legacy media outlets have finally been forced to take notice. Here's hoping for more days like today. And fewer nights like tonight.
Photos by @ArielShearer and @carlycarioli