Brothers and sisters,
I want to tell to you what happened to me on Monday night into early Tuesday morning and explain what it means for the movement.
Monday afternoon, the mass march of thousands of students and workers joined by MassUniting and the Right to the City Alliance culminated in a demonstration at the park square just north of Dewey Square, across the street.
We decided in a General Assembly style mass meeting to occupy and hold this second park square, which was merely the logical and geographical dimension of the expansion of our peaceful protest movement. The director of the Rose Kennedy Greenway(RKG) told the Assembly that they respected freedom of speech, and that the North Square had recently undergone renovation of the grass and gardens that she wanted preserved. She implied that if we would respect the greens, and work to restore them later if necessary, then there wouldn’t be a problem.
But the Mayor had a problem: he doesn’t want our movement to grow and expand in any way shape or form. His office reportedly said that if we didn’t leave by midnight, then he would arrest everyone in the square. This was apparently to happen regardless of whether we had permission from the RKG and regardless of our right to freedom of assembly and our peaceful nature.
Waiting till cover of darkness and minimum public scrutiny, the police began their attack at around 1:45am. I watched as they marched into the front line of our peaceful perimeter, which was composed of mostly-elderly war veterans from Veterans for Peace, who were all wielding white flags with a dove and olive branch on them. Some were tackled to the ground, others choke-slammed before being hog-tied with plastic and thrown in the wagon. See with your own eyes in the videos below.
I was arrested shortly thereafter (around 2am), luckily not roughed up, or thrown on the ground, or scratched in the face in the way that many others I saw were. They put me in a wagon and took eight of us to a holding station in West Roxbury. After about 6 hours, I did get half a cup of water and one phone call but they took my shoes before I re-entered the cell after booking. Then I was confined to a cold cell with no food and, now, no shoes for another 7 hours. Though it doesn’t compare to conditions in Guantanamo Bay, being confined in a cold cell with no food for 13 hours seems to me to be rather cruel and inhumane treatment for peaceful protestors.
Around 3pm (I think) they took us to a the courthouse in Government Center, and offered us a plea deal to move from criminal charges of “unlawful assembly” and “trespassing” to a civil “parking-ticket-type” fine of $50. Some took the deal, others pleaded not guilty and will go to trial in a few weeks.
I got out of jail around 5pm, after a 15 hour ordeal, only to find out that Menino had ordered the square not only to be cleared of people, but cleared of all our property and possessions. Personally, I lost my tent, two sleeping bags, a large comforter and pillow, and a box of DVDs that were given to me for the purpose of creating an educational film series for Occupy Boston. They took ALL the tents and belongings, destroyed them and put them in a trash truck and hauled them away.
What does this mean?
First of all, SHAME ON THE BOSTON POLICE DEPARTMENT for their cruel and inhumane treatment of prisoners.
Second of all, SHAME ON MAYOR MENINO for his violent attack on the peaceful protest and his destructive clearing of ALL of our personal property from the Northern Square.
Let us be CLEAR: the top 1% and those with all the money and power, are represented by the Mayor’s office, and it is THEIR interests who the police are here to ‘protect and serve’. Not ours. They want to scare us into submission, and prevent the expansion of this movement.
So our response to these attacks on freedom of speech, assembly, and political dissent should be clear and simple:
We need to DOUBLE and RE-DOUBLE our efforts to DEEPEN and BROADEN this movement.
Every campus, every community organization, every labor union, and every neighborhood needs to know what why we’re here (to protest and organize alternatives to corporate domination of our lives) and how they can PARTICIPATE in changing society with us (join a committee, spread the word, donate supplies!).
Thanks for your support, as evidenced by the MASS turnout at last night’s General Assembly. KEEP IT COMING.
We hope to see you in the Square!