In response to the growing Occupy Boston and Occupy Wall Street movements, and an overnight crackdown on Boston protesters, Greater Boston Young Democrats Vice Chair Sarah Betancourt issued the following statement on behalf of the organization’s more than 500 members:
“The Greater Boston Young Democrats are proud to stand in support of Occupy Boston. Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Boston are movements born out of a frustration shared by many members of our organization, a frustration that for too long the top one percent of earners in America have overwhelming influence in our political system, a frustration that all too many of our members face disproportionately high rates of unemployment, predatory lending practices, and soaring health care costs.
“Our own junior senator, Scott Brown, who has received millions from wealthy corporate donors like the Koch brothers, is a glaring example of how the top one percent is buying influence that hurts the other 99 percent of us. Sen. Brown has held unemployment benefits hostage in exchange for tax cuts for the rich, has stood with corporate polluters instead of protecting our air quality, and has even filibustered his own jobs bill. Sen. Brown even voted against summer jobs for youth despite benefiting from the program when he was younger and voted to reduce Pell grants even though he struggled to pay for college.
“We’re encouraged to see so many young people stepping up to lead and support this movement, as well as the many diverse groups who are joining in. We encourage our members to raise awareness about and participate in the Occupy Boston movement, and we encourage members of Occupy Boston to join GBYD in helping shape the future of our politics here in Massachusetts. Later this week, members of GBYD will join Occupy Boston to ensure that every eligible participant is registered to vote in time for the October 19 deadline for voting in this year’s municipal races. We hope that anyone interested in learning more about the Young Democrats will visit www.ydma.org.”
In response to last night’s crackdown by more than 200 police on peaceful protesters occupying a space on the Rose Kennedy Greenway, Betancourt added:
“We are very proud to see that the vast majority of protesters acted peacefully and stood up for their right to assemble and speak freely about the need for greater fairness and equality in the global economy. While we recognize the city’s need to maintain order, by all accounts the protesters were orderly and we’re disappointed that the police seemed more interested in protecting grass than the protesters’ right to assemble.
“Justice William O. Douglas once said, ‘Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us.’ GBYD hopes and expects that as this movement grows, the city will make any and all accommodations necessary to ensure the precious right of free speech and assembly is not abridged for these peaceful protesters.
“We are deeply disappointed by footage and first-hand accounts of police throwing out belongings from the occupiers rather than impounding and eventually releasing them. We’re even more alarmed to hear reports that Veterans for Peace and others may have faced unnecessary force while being arrested. We are encouraged to hear Mayor Tom Menino and Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis are investigating allegations of police brutality. And we urge occupiers and police alike to remain peaceful and treat each other with due respect.”