If you judge the excuses made by the city and its various arms over why the protesters at the 2nd encampment had to go, you can see that this was merely an assertion of authority. There was no legitimate reason to break up the protest as they did. Certainly if the city merely wanted us to think of the flowers, tweet-witness accounts say the police stomped the flower beds about as well as the protesters could have. Tossing the protesters things away was a psychological (as well as practical) tactic by the city to demoralize the protesters and show them “We’re in charge!” If the city wanted them to move they could have negotiated instead of suggesting Emma Goldman had risen from the dead and started leading the movement.
But what to do?
Well it just so happens that State Police were involved as well according to multiple accounts. Therefore, this has become a de facto statewide issue. Call your state rep or senator. Call the governor, too (I’m waiting for a press response from his office for my blog), but that’s a separate issue. Demand an investigation by the legislature or even better demand protesters be granted some latitude.
If you do call be sure to keep in mind a couple of points.
1. Acknowledge respect for public and private property in addition to the law.
2. Remind whomever you speak w/ the right to peaceably assemble is in the constitution and there was nothing that failed to be peaceable on the part of the protesters at any point yesterday.
3. The cost of this operation across all the agencies involved very probably exceeded the alleged cost to the greenway itself.
4. Negotiation, whether with public workers or the public is the way to settle differences like these in a free society. The protesters displayed no hint of violence or a threat to public health and safety therefore, regardless of whether their position qualified as trespassing, a fair negotiation would have been the fairest settlement. Boston Police Commisioner Ed Davis said communication soured yesterday. One bad day after 10 good days of negotation is no reason to bring out the battering ram.
5. Ask for an investigation. Not into the police themselves, although misconduct must be included, but into the decision-making process that led to this.
6. Note that actions speak louder than words. Tom Menino says he support Occupy Boston’s goals, but says “civil disobedience doesn’t work” and never had. Martin Luther King just rolled over in his grave. Tell your reps you welcome their words of support, but they must be backed by real action in their capacity as legislators. Nobody can afford to be an observer.
As always, keep a civil tone. Be firm, but courteous. I happen to believe that most Bay Staters agree with the purpose of Occupy Boston and its sister movements. This is not like gambling, where voices of dissent appear to be in the minority. 99% is not a minority and if you are cool, calm and collected our elected representatives on Beacon Hill will be able to ignore that for so long.