Perhaps because Boston has a historical memory of how well overzealous security crackdowns don’t work IRL (/snark), Occupy Boston is still in tenuous possession of a public-private patch of land. Quinn Norton, at Wired‘s Threat Level blog, has a thoughtful scene-of-the-story article on “Defying Police Blockade, Boston’s Occupy Builds a City“:
Between the 19th and the 21st of November, Occupy Boston had two teach-ins, a street-theater training, a reggae concert, and countless meetings — managing to use one of those as a cover to sneak a large weatherized tent past the ever-present Boston Police.
It was a member of the Occupy Boston’s Women’s caucus that told me they’d managed it, grinning widely, just as the tent was being set up as a dry, safe, and relatively warm place for women to shelter in the Occupy.
“It’s considered contraband,” she said, though she was gone before I could ask who considered it so. It was my introduction to the problems faced by these new residents of Dewey Square, in Boston’s Financial District, where it plays out its particular flavor of protest camp in the shadow of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston…
Occupy Boston is cacophonous day and night, dense and messy with enthusiastic humanity. Volunteers feed a thousand people a day.
The camp has a library, media tent, clothing tent, a place to make art and protest signs, and a sacred tent littered with the holy texts and statues of many faiths. It has a dozen or so events per day, managed by its 57 working groups, who do everything from taking care of animal safety and planning direct actions to documenting and improving pedal powered generators — a favorite of their MIT contingent…
By night Occupy deals with the flip side of Boston life; the poor and hungry, the homeless, those with untreated medical problems, and those addicted to drugs. It sleeps around 230 to 250 people in an uneasy snooze punctuated by late-night talks, the quarrels of recent and ill-advised love affairs, drunken stumbles, and fights between men used to fighting — all the usual night demons that plague the troubled…
In theory, Occupy Boston will be there at least through December 15. On Thursday, per local news station WCBV-TV, “… After a four-hour hearing, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Frances McIntyre took both sides’ arguments under advisement and said she would issue a ruling in two weeks time. Until then, she said, an injunction that bars the city from booting the protesters remains in place.”
In practice, while it was the second-warmest November on record, below-freezing temperatures are past due already, and the city is working really, really hard to prevent the Occupiers from bringing in heating equipment (“fire hazards”), winterized tents (“permanent structures”), or anything that might mitigate the “sanitary violations” inseparable from preparing food for a thousand people every day without running water. (There’s video clips at the news link of the cops “confiscating” (destroying) a professional-grade camp sink setup designed to run on bottled water.) Police Commissioner Davis has gravely pronounced crime within the area “out of control“, and warned of the “drain on our financial resources… money much better spent in neighborhoods where there is firearm violence” for the overtime paid to keep phalanxes of uniformed officers alert against the incursion of contraband camping supplies.
Mayor Menino, who’s basically NYC Mayor Bloomberg without the private fortune or the ready patter (even his boosters call him ‘May-ah Mumbles’), has two great bugaboos in his quest to become mayor-for-life: Litterbugs, and Rich Back Bay Fvcks. Occupy Boston is a nightmare fusion of the two, in his perception — Rich BB Lawyer Fvcks defending Litterbugs (some of them Rich BB Fvck offspring). But until some combination of inclement weather and unsympathetic authority manages to disperse these unruly settlers, I think they’re creating new forms of urban community that would have fascinated Jane Jacobs.