Noelle Swan

Occupy Boston Protesters Hold Their Ground Despite 100 Arrests

Noelle Swan
New England Post
October 12, 2011
 

One day after police raided their newly expanded camp and arrested 100 protesters, Occupy Boston is dug in and defiant.

Little evidence remains of the struggle between protesters and police, but the event remains seared in the minds of those who were there. In hushed voices, strained by a night of chanting and yelling, participants recounted their version of events of the previous evening.

“They came in the dead of night so people wouldn’t see,” said Hilary Richard of Wenham.

“I didn’t get arrested, but I saw my friends get arrested,” said Richard. “We were watching this one girl… they were ripping her away from us by the neck. They were grabbing her by the hair, by the face. It took four grown men to hogtie her and get her out of there.”

Later, Richard added that she did not blame the individual police officers for their actions. “Last night they were told by something bigger than themselves to do this.”

She said that she tried to engage one officer in conversation about the events of the previous evening and he told her to “ ‘grow up.’ ” “He’s the 99 percent as well,” she added before she resumed writing, “No, our love will not fade away,” in big black letters on piece of cardboard.

During the police raid, many protesters commented on Twitter that the police were beating demonstrators from the Veterans for Peace: a non-government organization recognized by the United Nations. The organization had inserted themselves between the officers and protesters. “We support the Occupy movement because we are certainly part of their 99 percent,” said the organization’s interim director in a telephone interview.

The Boston Police Department did not respond to emails and telephone requests for comment on the accusations of police brutality. However, a spokesperson for the department told the Boston Globe, “We believe all our officers were respectful and proportional.”

“Beating is not the word I would use, “said Chris O’Rouke, a mechanical engineer from Boston. “They were certainly pushing people, shoving people, throwing people to the ground, but there were no billy clubs out. People were thrown to the ground but they were not kicked or hit after that.”

Many protesters expressed hope that the events of the previous evening would ultimately strengthen the movement.

“It was horrible what happened,” said Barry Knight of Sturbridge as he washed communal dishes in plastic tubs of soapy water. “But it’s only going to help the cause in the end. Here we are speaking our voice. We don’t have a voice in politics, we can’t buy a lobby or a senator of our own so we’re taking the only recourse we have, which is to exercise the First Amendment.”

News coverage of the police raid drew many spectators to the park. Some came out to say thank you, others “just to see,” and still more to donate what they could.

Ryan from Roslindale declined to say what he does for a living but came out to donate money to help bail out protesters from jail. “I think that the cops have been pretty nice through this whole thing,” said Ryan, “but I think that it went over the line last night.” He said that he supported the movement previously, but the police raid prompted him to speak up with his wallet.

Pete, a protester from Jamaica Plain said that although some medical supplies were lost in the raid, “we’ve had a tremendous outpouring from the community. As soon as we put something online saying we need this, the next hour we have 15 people showing up with it.”

Dain and Constance Perry, retirees from Charlestown, stopped and thanked individual protesters as they strolled through the park. “I think we have lost our moral compass,” said Constance Perry. “I think that things like this in Chicago and Washington, D.C. and numerous other places is hopefully helping us get back to where we need to be as a nation.”

Dain Perry added, “The economic disparity is becoming dangerous. Unless action is taken to correct it, we could be facing some very hard times.”

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