Richard Harding Wood was riled up before Occupy. Along with other
friends from Malden, the then-20-year-old started coming into Boston
on weekends early last year wielding placards to protest the Federal
Reserve Bank. So when Occupy Boston settled across Atlantic Ave from
the Fed in late-September, it was a no-brainer for Wood to get
In December, Wood and his girlfriend, Everett native Brittany Cook,
traveled to Washington, DC, where they were arrested and charged with
parading on Supreme Court Grounds. They'd been demonstrating against
that body's Citizens United decision, and its poisoning the American
political process with toxic corporate influence.
The arrests in DC hardly deterred Wood and Cook, and when they heard
that the National Nurses United union was sponsoring NATO-bound
buses, they enthusiastically signed up. Even when their ride broke
down a half-hour out of Boston, they stayed among a group that
boarded a last-minute Greyhound, and arrived in Chicago at 3pm on
After an exciting but relatively tame Friday and Saturday, Wood and
Cook woke early for the major Veterans for Peace march planned for
Sunday. They skipped breakfast, instead pounding a few bottles of
water before leaving their crash spot – a small church space they'd
rented with a dozen other Occupiers who were left back in Mass –
and hitting the red line to arrive in Grant Park at 10:30am.
Wood and Cook marched close to the front, the former with his Guy
Fawkes mask pulled over his face. He says that the Anonymous disguise
was getting him severely dirty looks from cops, though, so he removed
it at the end of the march and stowed it in his backpack. With his
face exposed, Wood then moved to the front of the barricades where
police and protesters were shoving one another.
Wood says that he remembers pulling at least two young women out of
the scrum before winding up about three bodies behind the escalating
conflict. Even back there he wasn't safe though; within seconds –
at around 5:15pm – a close-by cop indiscriminately swung his baton
into the crowd, cracking Wood directly above the left side of his
temple. Bloody and shaken, he says everything went blurry.
it was Wood who was being pulled out of the crowd. Cook grabbed a
medic who they'd stayed with in DC months earlier, and, once Wood was
steady on his feet, they walked to a bus stop away from the action.
After about 10 minutes, they were scooped up by a street medic
transport vehicle, and brought to a makeshift wellness center in a
church for standard care and a therapeutic massage.
From there Wood
was eventually brought to Northwestern Memorial Hospital,
where, along with a number of other Occupiers who were beaten badly,
he was given prompt treatment and subsequently released. He has 10
stitches in his head, and a genuine concern for those who were
brutalized even harder. Asked whether he plans to attend the next
major action wherever it may be, he answers in the affirmative.