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.
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.
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
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.
The City of Boston will continue dodging a Freedom Of Information Act
(FOIA) request that was filed by Michael Morisy of muckrock.com 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.”
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.