Pics and Quips: Occupy Boston Returns to Dewey for April Fools' Rally. So Do Cops.

At least one group of protest fans expects Occupy to stage a significant Spring comeback. The gushing observers were out in force yesterday, tailing rally-goers on a march through downtown and Faneuil Hall. Sure, Boston police have shown appreciation for Occupy before. But it was still impressive to see so many of them dedicate their whole Sunday to the cause, and to playing along with their very own April Fools' stunt.

Of course cops weren't the only ones delivering absurd spectacles – in their case, producing a police presence that would be overkill for a small sports mob, let alone to keep about 100 peaceful gadflies in check. Occupiers also brought the silly, chanting messages like “Tax the poor” and “Take a shower get a job” – the last one starting as they moved past their old neighbors at the Intercontinental Hotel.

For Occupy Boston, the first of April was a play date, a celebratory opening of Spring and Summer floodgates. They trounced around the city, then returned to Dewey Square, where activists spent last Fall fighting wealth disparity and you name it. Despite the cops, the reunion was benevolent by all counts. At one point police were simply watching an inflatable ball around get kicked around, while there were just two arrests made – one for an outstanding warrant, and one for standing in front of the police wagon sent for the prior arrest.

Walking beside Occupiers, I heard a number of onlookers say things like, “Are they really still around?” There was even fanfare, and a swarm of passerby paparazzi snapping phone pics and firing them off. Beyond their animated presence, the group's droll message resonated smoothly, and signs like “HUNT THE HOMELESS” and “MITT ROMNEY MARRY ME” won plenty of chuckles, as well as the endorsement of a Quincy Market juggler who commanded quite a following.

There's no telling how hot Occupy will burn in the next few months. But Sunday gave the impression that Wednesday's long-planned MBTA action on Beacon Hill will at least lure heads. As for those who plan to stay on the sidelines, trash-yapping and questioning what Occupy's accomplished (without actually seeking answers) – I can only assume that they agree with one of the ironic slogans that was echoed across Dewey yesterday: “Protest never changed a thing.”

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