The world waits to see what will happen at midnight tonight, as Occupy Boston is evicted from Dewey Square in Boston by Mayor Thomas Menino. The moment has been creeping up on the occupiers ever so steadily since a week or two ago. After Occupy LA and Occupy Philadelphia were cleared, it was evident the city would be moving the occupiers out as soon as they could.
I spent about a week there covering the camp. I delivered supplies to the camp, which was made possible by Firedoglake’s Occupy Supply campaign. I also was there for a day before Occupy Wall Street first was threatened with eviction in October. I had the chance to meet some fine occupiers and take in the truly remarkable spirit of the community that sprouted in Dewey Square. This is Occupy Boston’s moment though. The world is watching them tonight. I am at home blogging away madly. And I will be live blogging like I have been live blogging the Occupy movement since Day One. But, they should have their message, their words amplified tonight.
Here is the statement posted on the Occupy Boston website:
This morning, Mayor Menino issued a midnight deadline for Occupy Boston to leave the Greenway. The articulated threat of eviction is a clear and present danger to the community we have built over the past ten weeks. We came to Dewey Square to practice true democracy and give visibility to injustice; we came to see if we could not–in providing for basic needs–maintain a standing indictment against their enforced deprivation within our broader community. With this commitment came hard evidence of economic suffering, evidence that we present at the doorstep of the Federal Reserve along with our democracy, our songs and our chants that echo daily through the financial canyon. Today, the city threatens that community. It threatens the library, where we hold our classes and discuss ideas. It threatens our food tent, which has served thousands of people many more thousands of meals. It threatens our medical tent, which has provided treatment and care to the sick and to the injured. Not only these, it threatens the lives of those of us who have no place else to go. The city has cited concern for our safety as the reason for forcing us back into the streets. But make no mistake; the city’s concern for our safety will disperse when we do. We have therefore taken steps to ensure the safety of the infrastructure we have built, and to protect the most vulnerable among us in the event of the eviction. We are taking down the food tent, the medical tent, packing up our logistics supplies for safe-keeping and working with social service providers and other allies to secure shelter for our brothers and sisters most likely to experience homelessness if and when the city throws away their tents. We take action–today and always–in the name of economic and political justice, freedom of expression and our entire community.
The statement indicates much of the camp has been willfully dismantled. The most vulnerable of the population that have been taken care of by the Occupy Boston community over the past months are being moved out. Those remaining are those that have the fortitude and courage to stand their ground and send a message with their bodies that they believe what they have been doing—occupying—is speech that should be protected under the First Amendment.
I want to call attention to an individual I had the privilege of meeting at Occupy Boston, whom Firedoglake donated money to so he could construct “tiny, tiny homes” for the camp. This person is Sage Radachowsky, a research technician at Harvard. He and occupiers had been working with an MIT professor and some students from Harvard and MIT to develop solutions to help Occupy Boston last through winter. The working group was about to make “tiny, tiny homes” like the one Radachowsky has been living in for weeks now.
As Radachowsky described these shelters, “It’s a bike trailer house. It’s 3 X 6 feet inside. It’s enough for me to sleep diagonally. And it’s everything I need to make it through the night warmly. I sleep with a couple of blankets and some woolen sweaters around me and kind of nest in there. It is really warm.”
He made it from a TV cabinet that he found in the trash and “a couple of old bicycle wheels and some 2 X 4s.” He also used 2-inch styrofoam-ridged insulation and put foil lining on the insulation. The home is 4 feet tall and the top is covered with three layers of clear poly-plastic sheeting.
“At night I can read by the lights of the financial district,” added Radachowsky. “I made a door and there’s a trailer hitch on the front so you can pull it with a bicycle.” The home took about a day to build and the building materials cost about $100.
Over the past weeks, Radachowsky has been trying to plan days to construct these homes so they could brought in and donated to people who needed warm shelter. But, as he explained to me, things to keep homeless people warm suddenly became “contraband” days before I interviewed Radachowsky.
Radachowsky had his own incident, “I pulled up in my truck to deliver some styrofoam. I didn’t think there was a police officer there but there was and he called his superiors and said no you can’t bring the styrofoam in or the tarp. I went home and cut up the styrofoam and then brought it in.”
Like many of the occupiers, Radachowsky wanted the opportunity to continue to maintain the encampment through winter:
I always wanted the chance to fight for something good and this is the chance to do it close to home. This is the movement I’ve been waiting for. I want the chance and I think that we can gain some moral capital as well showing that we do have resolve, that we do have the ability to work democratically and solve problems.
Menino is denying Occupy Boston that chance tonight. He is putting the interests of the Greenway Conservancy before Occupy Boston, which has been part of a national movement that has reset the conversation on economic issues. And not only that, it has been a part of a movement that has raised citizens’ expectations for society, leading many to have a much bolder vision for society. It has been a part of a movement that has drawn attention to the militarization of police (which Occupy Boston experienced firsthand when it tried to expand into a second encampment). And, it has been a part of a movement that has enhanced the culture of dissent in America, reminding citizens’ of the power they can wield if they get out in the streets.
From singing “Get Up, Stand Up” with Tosh 1 and the Dis-N-Dat Band to marching in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street after it was evicted, I saw the power of Occupy Boston. It may be driven from where it has been occupying tonight, but the space of Dewey Square will forever be known as the site where Occupy Boston occupied for months.
Now, here’s a photo set to view from Occupy Boston as we wait for Occupy Boston to take one more stand for economic equality and justice in America, one more stand for First Amendment rights in America.