Noelle Swan

Wall Street Protests Come to Boston Common

Noelle Swan
New England Post
September 28, 2011

“If you are out of work, you are invited. If you are homeless, you are invited. If you are the Boston Police, you are invited.”

Chaplain Marisa Egerstrom opened the first “general assembly” meeting of the Occupy Boston movement with an invitation to participate in what she called, “a fight for the soul of the nation.”

More than 200 dissatisfied residents attended the meeting on Boston Common last night. Many attendees had traveled to New York City to participate in Occupy Wall Street, an ongoing protest that has so far lasted two weeks. Now they aim to bring the movement to Boston.

Occupy Boston represents just one of a rash of protest movements beginning to surface all around the country in solidarity with the ongoing occupation of Liberty Square in New York City. The goal of last night’s meeting was to determine the logistical steps necessary for staging a legal occupation in Boston.

The meeting drew attendees from all over the state and a variety of lifestyles. While college students represented a large percentage of participants, they were joined by many of Boston’s more senior residents.

Mark Hurd explained why he came. “I live on the streets most of the time, sometimes in the shelter, but I’m not brain dead.. I see stores closing, I see the shelters are packed and people are sleeping on the floor. Something’s wrong.”

Theories on what is wrong in America abounded. Participants were invited to address the assembly following Egerstrom’s opening remarks. Speakers queued up at the steps to the bandstand to raise issues about everything from war to Bank of America to the treatment of executed Georgia inmate, Troy Davis.

Many attendees grew frustrated with the unfocused nature of the speeches. Chants of “Let’s talk strategy!” rippled through the crowd. Local resident, Sam Duncan, anticipated a lack of an articulated message and carried a sign saying, “Protests are fun, governing is hard.”

Organizer Robin Jacks assured the audience that “a cohesive message will come.” She sighted the uprising in Cairo’s Tahrir Square as an example of a seemingly disorganized group coming together slowly with a constructive vision.

The assembly broke up into several working groups to consider issues such as location and time of occupation, legal constraints, ensuring provisions like food and medical supplies, and securing media coverage. Local supporters of perennial presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche formed their own economic group.

“I saw a disorganized rabble turn into actual working groups,” one participant commented.

Veterans of the New York City protest complained about rough treatment by the police. Many participants discussed various You Tube videos of alleged police brutality. Some in Boston seem to be preparing for similar circumstances here.

One attendee, sporting a fauxhawk, stretched earlobes and carrying a large red and black flag, wandered through the crowd shouting, “Don’t let cops and infiltrators break you up! Don’t be scared.”

Organizers in Boston hope that careful planning will help avoid confrontations. However, Occupy Boston organizers are trying to establish an amicable relationship with law enforcement.

“The Boston Police are our friends,” Robin Jacks said on the website set up yesterday to alert participants to expected rules of conduct. In the working group charged with tactics, including location selection, one member assured the group that he had already been in contact with city officials about permitting.


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