After more hours than I care to count I finally went to warm up in a
press crash spot at around four in the morning. When I got back to Dewey
Square fifteen minutes later, a female member of the media team had
been assaulted by a never-seen-before stranger in a dark suit. It was an
extraordinarily strange occurrence by all accounts. The guy simply
showed up, talked a bunch of shit, tried to snatch a phone, slapped the
camp Twitter pilot, and tried to run off before being arrested.
Whether this odd infiltration was deliberate or not - a drunken ass or a
police plant, the latter possibly embedded to disrupt the media group's
communication with the outside world before the storm came - it should
have on some level signaled what was about to come. It should have. But
the lot of Occupiers and reporters who were still around - more than 50
of us - were approaching delirious. Most of us wouldn't have expected a
raid if Lieutenant John Pike walked through waving a fistful of pepper
And then it came. Right before five o'clock. Nobody really believed that
it was coming. Even though we all knew that it was, and even though
there couldn't have been a better opportunity for authorities to gain
pole position over vulnerable campers. By the time Occupiers started
yelling 'mic check,' the whole park was surrounded by cops - most in
all-black action (but not riot) gear, others in sweet late-80s style
waterproof reflective numbers. It's hard to remember what happened
immediately after that. I blasted out some tweets and ran for a safe
PHOTOS: On the scene of the Occupy Boston eviction, by Ariel Shearer
As I think everyone expected, Boston police were relatively respectful.
The situation that transpired early this morning was unfortunate and
even disgusting - at least in this reporter's eyes - but cops were not
out to hurt or harm anything other than a whole lot of freedom of
expression. From what I saw and experienced, those who did not wish to
get bagged were given the opportunity to avoid arrest. That's only
right, but considering the barbarism we've seen deployed against Occupy
camps elsewhere I'm happy to show appreciation.
All that said, I did have a shitty encounter with some officers. After
flashing my Boston Phoenix business card and embroidered company jacket,
I was allowed into Dewey Square along with photographers and some other
writers while police were mauling the camp. But after firing off a few
tweets and snapping some pics, I felt a light tug at my backpack, and
was told that I had to leave unless I could produce a proper press pass.
In eight years of reporting at City Hall, the Massachusetts Statehouse,
police headquarters, and just about everywhere else in this city, I've
never needed one. Until today.
My own eviction came just as cops started wrapping zip ties around
wrists. Not just on home base, but across Atlantic Avenue near South
Station. That's where I was told to go unless I wanted to get locked. So
I did. And there I found about fifty Occupiers and other shunned press,
plus more cops than I could count. That's not an exaggeration - it
really seemed like they were multiplying, especially as they crossed
Summer Street and held the line close to the sidewalk. People were told
that they'd be arrested if they walked into the street. And some did,
and were cuffed something fierce before being stuffed into wagons.
As is sort of being said by television news reporters, there was quite a
bit of excitement on the South Station side of things. Some Occupiers
made logistical announcements about where to meet next (right now it
looks like the big post-eviction general assembly will be at 7pm at the
Boston Common bandstand); others screamed at cops who remained more or
less silent. After a few hours of this rigmarole, it's reported that
just under 50 activists and approximately no white collar criminals were
Writing this dispatch back in my apartment, I'm having a good laugh at
the morning news coverage of events that I just lived through. To
Channel 7, Mayor Tom Menino was the hero, even though he wasn't there.
They also compared what happened to playoff victory riots, and announced
that, in just a few years, we might see the first Occupy presidential
candidate. I'm not sure where that theory came from, but it sure as hell
wasn't from the crowd that I was standing with on Summer Street.
They're not thinking about a few years from now. They're thinking about
where they'll be in a few hours.