Lessons from Occupy Boston

Photo by Sierra Fuller
Occupy Boston // Photo by Sierra Fuller

Above is my sister’s photo of Monday’s Occupy Boston, which made excellent use of the dozens of colleges in a close area to bring student contigents together, amplifying the protest numbers to a few thousand – a good reminder that student activists are almost always major factors in social movements.

The mood was peaceful and energetic throughout the afternoon, but took a tense and confrontational turn later that night, when Boston police stormed Dewey Square – which seems to be the core encampment for the Boston demonstrators – to arrest 141 protesters who refused to leave, the “largest mass detention in recent memory.”

Among those thrown into squad cars for civil disobedience were Veterans for Peace. One U.S.  veteran, Rachel McNeill claimed police dragged her by the throat.

This is a disturbing continuation of the widespread, violent response by police departments to Occupy movements around the country. Atlanta, Dallas, and Seattle and several more cities described similar police reactions, not to mention the NYPD’s well-publicized disgraceful pepper-spraying, deceitful mass arrests, kettling, and beatings.

However, it’s important that Occupiers don’t let police abuse become the leading narrative of these protests. We must document, condemn, and prosecute police abuse, but shouldn’t let it detract from the dominant theme: the rampant corporate greed that has corrupted our politics. As Matt Taibi notes, “the headline from the first week of protests against the financial-services sector was an old cop macing a quartet of college girls.” Anthony Bologna’s cowardly attack was repugnant, and it may have brought more television cameras, but it isn’t what brought protesters to Zuccotti Park.

But Occupy Boston has proven resilient: the day following the mass arrests, Dewey Square was “abuzz with activity this afternoon, as passersby dropped off cash donations, curious onlookers toured the tent city, and protesters formed discussion circles to talk about everything from capitalism to composting.” Good for them.

More photos from 10/10/11:

Photo by Sierra Fuller
Photo by Sierra Fuller
Photo by Sierra Fuller
Photo by Sierra Fuller
Photo by Sierra Fuller
Photo by Sierra Fuller

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