as evictions go, it was quite a strange scene at Camp Charlie this
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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
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.
to Occupy's media team, “Occupy MBTA set up Camp Charlie to visibly
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
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.