Noelle Swan

Thousands of Occupy Boston Protesters Demand Congress Pass American Jobs Act

Noelle Swan
New England Post
November 18, 2011
 

Thousands of people marching down Atlantic Avenue–moms pushing strollers, college kids with scary piercings, and tough-guy iron workers–all singing Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land.”

Thousands of demonstrators converged on the Charlestown Bridge in downtown Boston last night in part of a national day of protest taking place at some of the nation’s most decrepit bridges. Protesters demanded that Congress pass the American Jobs Act in full and approve infrastructure investments that would repair the failing bridge and create jobs.

The march in Boston began at the Occupy Boston campsite in Dewey Square, before proceeding to the foot of the Charlestown Bridge—police barred entrance to the bridge lest it fail under the weight of thousands of demonstrators.

Occupy Boston librarian John Ford of Plymouth addressed the crowd before setting off down Atlantic Avenue toward the Charlestown Bridge. “We have unemployed people that could fix that bridge so that one day, all of us might actually be able to stand on it.”

Unemployed ironworker Olivé Hendricks of Roslindale told the New England Post, “Right now we could be fixing this bridge…There’s a ton of infrastructure to fix and right now we’re not doing it we’re just waiting for things to fall apart.”

This is the second massive demonstration at the Charlestown Bridge in a little over a month. Over 3000 protesters marched to the same spot on Columbus Day. Since then, only a small portion of the bill has successfully made its way through Congress.

Yesterday’s march came one day after Congress passed a portion of the bill that provides incentives for businesses to hire veterans. While President Obama has applauded the passage of this portion of the bill, he said the measure is, “only a step,” and urged Congress to, “pass the rest of my American Jobs Act so that we can create jobs and put money in the pockets of the middle class.”

Naeemah Fuller, an insurance agent from Boston said that she came to the march because she believes, “The country needs to give the middle class a chance. We are the country’s strongest asset and they need to treat us as such.”

A protester from Roxbury who introduced himself as Timmy said, “I’ve got a lot of family members and friends that don’t have jobs. They’ve been seeking employment for years. It’s hard out here.”

Unemployment and disenfranchisement of the middle and lower class has been a major theme in the Occupy movement around the country. Chants of “2, 4, 6, 8, We want jobs and we can’t wait,” have become a common refrain shouted en masse through the streets of downtown Boston as Occupy Boston has engaged in marches large and small almost every day for the past six weeks.

A heavy police presence escorted this march—at times over two dozen uniformed officers were visible. While over 200 demonstrators were arrested in New York City in clashes with the NYPD, there were no such arrests in Boston. Relations between Occupy Boston protesters and the BPD have been mostly cordial since Columbus Day.  But the day of that march, tensions between Occupy Boston and the BPD mounted as the occupiers attempted to expand their camp and the police responded with a midnight raid and over 100 arrests.

Since, the protesters and police have essentially living and working side by side for weeks now and have developed a certain level of respect for each other.

While marching back to Dewey Square, one protester pointed out an undercover officer to his companion. As he drew near, he called out, “Good evening, officer.”

The officer broke out into a large grin and replied, “You can’t even see me I blend in so well.”

After the march, Superintendent Dan Linskey said, “The march was great. The organizers told us where they were going to go. They had their staff assisting the police so we were able to reroute traffic and some ambulances without much of a problem. We had no issues or concerns.”

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