H.R. 347, State Trooper Love, and Over-Thinking Occupy Boston's Overnight Eviction From Camp Charlie

Owly Images

As far as evictions go, it was quite a strange scene at Camp Charlie this week.

At around 8:30pm on Monday night, authorities showed up at the Massachusetts Statehouse, where Occupy Boston has been camped since April 4 in protest of the legislature's failure to seriously address mass transit issues.

At the request of he United States Secret Service, state police issued a one-hour eviction warning, citing Tuesday's planned trade visit from Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. Occupiers were both alarmed and aggravated by the sudden order.

Owly Images

Here's where it got weird though – troopers offered to provide moving trucks for Occupy's camp materials. Perhaps they were trying to give conservatives something to yap endlessly about. Or maybe they just wanted to make Boston cops look bad. Either way, it certainly confused some Occupiers.

In a pinch, the 25-or-so protesters on the scene agreed to step aside, and even to let troopers help haul their shit to an Occupy storage house. Once the signs, banners, and boxes were scooped, barricades went up, and activists retreated across Beacon Street to Boston Common.

Owly Images

Though some were skeptical of what intentions troopers harbored, for the most part Occupiers licked their emotional wounds and split quietly. With that said, there was a symphony of chatter about H.R. 347 – a recently passed federal law that raises a number of troubling questions. According to the ACLU:

While H.R. 347, on its own, is only of incremental importance, it could be misused as part of a larger move by the Secret Service and others to suppress lawful protest by relegating it to particular locations at a public event. These "free speech zones" are frequently used to target certain viewpoints or to keep protesters away from the cameras. Although H.R. 347 doesn't directly address free speech zones, it is part of the set of laws that make this conduct possible, and should be seen in this context.

Though Secret Service protocol was cited as the reason for Monday's removal, Occupiers were permitted to return after Rousseff's visit, and plan on remaining there until April 14. Among activists, there's a sense of neither success nor defeat in the matter, but rather vague worry about what might happen later on in similar scenarios.

The Statehouse is a particularly dicey destination for dissent, as the building and surrounding streets and sidewalks all fall under different police jurisdictions – state, city, park, and, in the case of special visitors, federal. And you thought the Dewey Square occupation summoned legal conundrums.

According to Occupy's media team, “Occupy MBTA set up Camp Charlie to visibly demand a 
comprehensive, accessible, and sustainable transportation plan for the 99%.
The proposed service cuts and fare increases for the MBTA are an inadequate
short-term solution to a larger systemic failure.”

President of Brazil

Tuesday, even as new developments unfolded in the transit funding quagmire, that message was silenced in the place where it needs to be heard the loudest – Beacon Hill. As for the kind and benevolent troopers – I'm sure they handled things the best they could. But it's unlikely that their vehicles will be available to help out once bus and train fares go up and service gets slashed.

| More

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