It's only day two, and there's no occupation yet, but the whole country's watching #OccupyBoston

At this early juncture it's already safe to say that Occupy Wall Street has succeeded. I'm not being sarcastic. Yesterday I wrote about the media storm that's showered their protests from early on, and that's rained down even harder since the New York Police Department began brutalizing demonstrators. And after last night's Occupy Boston meeting on the Common, I'm convinced that the hordes have achieved something even greater than attracting press: regardless of what they actually accomplish in the end, Occupy has already become the hottest protest franchise since the Tea Party. Which is why it makes sense that contrarian Boston is emerging as the first city to strike while the brand is hot.

Last night's kickoff meeting was at least a testament to the popularity of this movement. People have been angry for some time, but for many it was Occupy that motivated them – not the countless other protests that take place every week around here. Roughly 300 showed – with a significant number of reporters on the scene documenting – despite the event having been announced less than a day ahead of time, and almost exclusively through social media (Steve Annear, who you should follow on Twitter if you're keeping tabs on the actions, also broke the story in the Metro). By a show of hands, a few dozen folks on the Common got their feet wet in Liberty Square during the first stretch of Occupy Wall Street. But for the most part, these were people – mostly young, but overall from a mix of backgrounds, ages, and ethnicities – who'd become interested by what they'd seen online and in the news.

Following an introduction by default organizer Robin Jacks – whose opening “Welcome to Occupy Boston” remark may have summoned Thunderdome memories for older onlookers – an array of speakers took no longer than a few minutes apiece to chime in. They were asked to address Occupy priorities, still many introduced tangential causes – the 5th Amendment, capital punishment, and so on – until about a half-hour in, around 8pm, when someone asked the crowd to begin thinking about where this all might go down. The same activist then detoured onto a rant about growing his own food, but he nonetheless rolled the ball in the right direction.



Video furnished by Chris King @ KingCast

When asked early on how many people would be willing and able to maintain an actual occupation, only about 20 hands went up. But some who came as observers seemed to get more serious as the night progressed, and as the posse split up into working groups to discuss a range of implementation issues: legal, food, arts and culture, medical, location, tactical, outreach, media. There were still some goofy moments – some of the night's loudest cheers came when someone randomly screamed "FUCK CAPITALISM." Plus it was meta-rifically hilarious to see groups hold votes about breaking into smaller groups and about what those groups should do. But overall the maturity level increased dramatically over the three-plus hour congress (despite those who came with bandanas wrapped around their faces, presumably to avoid detection by the two bike cops who were on the scene).

As was reported by the Guardian, Occupy Boston is already emerging as a model from which other cities might learn how to effectively piggyback Occupy Wall Street efforts (the comprehensive site Occupy Together seems to be a legit clearinghouse for Occupy actions nationwide). That's also been the word on Twitter, where Occupy Boston peeps have been congratulating themselves since late last night, when they made the group decision to occupy Dewey Square near South Station and the Financial District. It's a major responsibility – there are a dozen scheduled Occupy actions planned for now through next week, from Philadelphia to San Francisco. But from what I saw, Boston might have the numbers and gusto to become the first legit expansion team.

Occupy Boston operatives and others return to the Common today at 6pm, when they'll take more votes regarding the action. Their biggest decision will be when to occupy – a question on which the group appears to be divided. (UPDATE SEPT 29: OCCUPATION SET FOR FRIDAY AT 6 PM, NO PERMIT.) According to Robin Jacks (who does not speak for the entire front, but tweets @occupy_boston and is an “initial organizer”), some want to start this Friday (9/30), while others think they need a week beyond that to get prepared. There's also the issue that Right to the City, MassUniting, and dozens of other groups already have a massive anti-Bank of America action planned for this Friday and Saturday – but judging by sentiments I witnessed, those efforts won't likely impact the decision on when to squat in Dewey Square. Most people on the Common last night didn't come to support those organizations. They came to Occupy.

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