Social activists haven't reached Scott Brown by picketing his Boston office on New Sudbury Street. Despite persistent pleas from parades of constituents there — for the senator to help the poor and unemployed by raising taxes on wealthy individuals and voting in favor of infrastructure-development projects — Brown continues to ignore those who've suffered worst in this economy.
So this week, about 100 Bay State protesters — brought together by the multilateral advocacy federation MassUniting — took their fight to Capitol Hill. Battling Brown was just one mission of the Massachusetts delegation, which delivered roughly 250 participants to the five-day "Take Back the Capitol" action in Washington DC. But the senator was MassUniting's first priority.
"Brown's Wall Street contributors are the main targets of the Occupy movement," said Charlestown resident Jay Chambers, an active participant at Occupy Boston and union ironworker who hasn't found steady work in five years. Chambers spoke to the Phoenix from the Dirksen Senate Office Building, where Brown's DC office is located. "His whole platform was job creation, but since taking office his policy has been to favor the elite."
The Boston crew — mostly out-of-work laborers, Occupiers, and community organizers — met at Bayside Expo Center early Monday morning, and arrived in DC on five buses 10 hours later. From there, MassUniting activists linked up with likeminded progressives from 46 other states — thousands of whom congregated on the National Mall in a makeshift tent city.
After crashing in a number of spots — church basements, union halls, a 4-H camp — Chambers and one faction of the commonwealth force made their way to Brown's office, arriving there at 10 am Tuesday. About a dozen MassUniting soldiers occupied the waiting room, while 100 more filled the hallway — until capitol police told them that they couldn't sit, at which point they split into teams and took shifts standing.
Brown was in the capital Tuesday, and even voted on a judicial appointment. But his staffers told activists that he was unavailable to speak about their issues of concern — home foreclosures, chronic unemployment, expiring unemployment benefits. Still, after eight hours, MassUniting didn't give up — even when the Senate offices closed down.
"Brown is always a no-show in Boston," said Chambers, "so we're hoping to find him down here. If we have to put suits on, dress like lobbyists, and go to K Street after this to get his attention, then that's just what we'll have to do."