Nine Things to Expect from Occupy Boston This Summer

If the settling of Dewey Square was a big fat dysfunctional wedding, then the current slog leading up to Occupy Boston's one-year anniversary is a time to reflect on the shotgun marriage between this wide array of Hub activists. Some tried to analyze the union on the honeymoon, but a number of traumatic twists made that impossible.

Now it seems that several initial players are extra charged on the heels of fighting everything from fracking to NATO. And they're joined by new affiliates, dozens of whom were in attendance at a re-grouping meeting last Friday night on Boston Common. In speaking, as usual, they alternated between bright and kooky, brilliant and uniformed. But one thing they almost all displayed was honesty.

Though the vocal majority of active Occupiers maintain their animosity toward dismissive press, most would agree with the popular notion that the local front is down-and-out. Emerging from a breakout group on Friday, Dan Schneider from the Boston Occupier shared some sad words that were used to describe the state of things: “uncertainty,” “passing,” “fear,” “disperse,” and “disappointment.”

Of course it's not all doom, as the overall movement continues to march. Protests for May Day in New York and against NATO in Chicago drew tens of thousands of progressives from across the country, and party conventions in Charlotte and Tampa should be equally exciting. In the meantime, however, there's plenty to observe right here in the Hub as protest season warms up.

1 – The City of Boston will continue dodging a Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request that was filed by Michael Morisy of on November 16, 2011. Specifically, the inquiry notes: “Mayor Menino has repeatedly stated that the city is "monitoring" the [Occupy] movement for safety concerns. This request is for the written reports of that monitoring.” It's anybody's guess as to what Hizzoner's hiding, but the more plausible hypotheses involve everything from hysterical reactionary measures by the Department of Homeland Security, to emails specifying the administration's undying allegiance to Bank of America.

2 – The ongoing trials of about two-dozen Occupiers will begin to make for an increasing amount of compelling legal theater. Nearly 200 activists were arrested between the Columbus Day raid on the Rose Kennedy Greenway and the December 10 eviction from Dewey Square. Most have since accepted deals, but a core group remains in legal limbo. Among that contingent are those who claim to be facing trumped-up charges of resisting arrest despite having peaceably surrendered. There's a discovery hearing on June 21, at which time the Suffolk County district attorney's office is expected to produce evidence regarding which – if any – local, state, or federal agencies were involved in the December 10 crackdown. If that's not sexy enough for you, then pay attention to how city lawyers refuse to try Occupiers together, and are instead pushing to split defendants into separate groups.

3 – Those trials will get more media attention than anything else that Occupy Boston does all season. Whether the upcoming court drama is good or bad for Occupy's public image has yet to be seen. But judging by the hugely successful spin campaigns that the cities of Chicago and New York launched for NATO and May Day, respectively, the mainstream media will increasingly side against the 99 percent here just like anyplace else. The curious love affair that broadcast outlets had with Occupy early on appears to be over, and mainstream influence peddlers already gave up hope months ago in exchange for Obama. From here on in, this story will be covered almost exclusively by the alternative and independent press.

4 – Occupiers will continue linking up with existing organizations. Despite a whole lot of hyperbolizing from progressive polemicists operating from behind their desks, Occupiers in general – including those in Boston – do not eschew longtime activists, and understand the need to collaborate with those who are already entrenched in the war on wealth disparity. They've already done this in many instances, reaching out to the likes of City Life/Vida Urbana in the fight against forced evictions, and to the T Riders Union (TRU) when protesting MBTA service cuts and fare increases. But while this is hardly news, skeptics abound are questioning how long these relationships will last – particularly with labor – as the presidential race heats up and unions start endorsing Democrats.

5 – Homelessness issues will get more attention. Unfortunately, Occupy Boston is hardly in a place to help meet even basic needs for those lacking health and housing (as far as finances, they don't even a bail budget in the event that there are more mass arrests). Many have pitched in however they can – putting friends from Dewey up for months, helping others find employment – but it's obvious that they've largely lost touch with the most vulnerable 99 percenters. Now that they're re-grouping, many Occupiers are at least vocally acknowledging the need to reach out once again, potentially through existing advocacy groups.

6 – Occupiers will focus on outreach, outreach, and more outreach. The tentacles of Occupy actually stretch further than most folks realize. There are budding if not healthy groups of sympathizers in towns and cities all across the commonwealth – many of which are hammering away at local issues. With that said, efforts to spread the word and show that Occupiers don't bite will ensue, so expect regular screen-printing on the Common, and perhaps even some colorful information tables around the city. Think Scientology, but with a more earthly agenda and much lower budget.

7 – Big actions will be all the rage. Not everyone agrees that metaphorical fireworks are necessary – some would prefer to focus on expanding Occupy principles horizontally outside of downtown Boston – but there's certainly a motivated chunk of people pushing for headline-grabbing sit-ins, demonstrations, and other creative spectacles. With that said, at last Friday's summit there were specific suggestions about how major actions could be more effective, like using general assemblies to plan protests (which has not been done up to this point), and to make it clear to everyone when the blowout festivities will go down. As one person put it, she doesn't mind being arrested, but she'd rather go to jail with 200 people than with 20.

8 – Another Fall is not possible. That is to say there will not be another prolonged occupation. Not in Boston at least, and certainly not in Dewey, where several Occupiers still can't roam as a result of restraining orders. From what I gather, there's enthusiasm for more bank-side sleepovers and things of that sort, plus large group gatherings that could help build the local Occupy community back to what is once was. According to the last person on stack Friday night: “Occupy can't do what it needs to do until it's a fuck of a lot bigger.”

9 – There will be public screaming matches with Mitt Romney legionnaires, and perhaps even Obama backers if they get in the way. This isn't something that Occupiers mentioned to me. It's just my assumption considering the wild pack of douche-collars who showed up to scream at David Axelrod last week. At some point, Occupiers and their pals from someplace like MassUniting will show up to picket a Romney event, and, presumably, the same crew of preppy shitheads will emerge to counter. Which brings me to the final thing that you can expect regarding Occupy Boston this summer – for their adversaries to use the same tired, lame cliches in attacking them that they've used since the movement arrived at Dewey Square nine months ago.

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