Mayor Menino’s plans to evict Occupy Boston at midnight last night ended in a standoff. WHDH estimated the assembled crowd of supporters at 1000. Pat Scanlon of the Smedley Butler Brigade estimated 50001. Superintendent William B. Evans who commands the Special Operations Unit of the Boston Police Department took a nap in the pre-midnight hours. The expected announcement to leave the park or be arrested did not occur. A band was playing in the Dewey Square proper just outside the camp. Crowds of supporters lined both sides of of Atlantic Avenue which bounds the park on the south. Among them Quakers in silent support and a large contingent of protest chaplains in choral support. There were drummers drumming. And of course, there was a very substantial presence of Occupy Students many of them willing to risk arrest2. Young people in black lifted the fork-lift palettes that had been Main Street and moved them to the periphery of the park to form barricades. There was debate between the YPiB3 and people with a more conservative notion of non-violence. But, I did overhear one YPiB argue that putting up barricades is non-violent.4
The crowd moved off the sidewalks into the street. The half block near the congress street end of Atlantic Avenue was solid with people. Superintendent Evans pushed his way through the crowd. After a couple of round trips of the site, he released a statement that there would be raid that night. The question then for the demonstrators, “Should we believe him?” The chanting, the singing, and the drumming continued with no diminution. After about an hour my affinity group, homefuls of about my age, decided to leave. The block party continued slowly dwindling in numbers.
I slept under the stars5. I awoke to see Steve Anderson of the Greenway surveying the site. A few police were around, but not a lot. They were fairly solicitous to us. I’ll tell you about the preparations before the standoff and the reconfiguration of the camp in the wee hours. But it will have to wait. I have to get back to my peeps.
1 I don’t have pictures to show you or get a better count. I had stashed my camera to avoid confiscation during a possible arrest. A word picture will have to do.
2My thanks to Occupy Students organizer Bea for lifting my spirits. When I returned from a day long Non-Violent Direct Action training, I found that half the tents were down it didn’t seem worth defending. Bea and senior anthropology major Dr. Fail convinced me otherwise.
3YPiB is admittedly an imprecise characterization. In the terms of the tabloid media, they are Generation Z. Black is the usual color of anarchists. I was told that the older anarchists, those between 25 and 30, were somewhat concerned about some of these folks because nobody knows who they are. Some are always wearing masks, appear only for actions and are not seen around camp at other times. There are others who have a relationship with encamped anarchist groups.
4One of the benefits of non-violence training, of which there are many flavors, is the understanding of the intrinsic ambiguity in the notion of violence. I highly recommend such training to everyone, whether you intend to be in an action or not.
5It was an overcast New England sky. Literary license – work with me.