Reimagining a Revolution in Boston: Three Days with #OccupyBoston

“I’ve lost faith in the country. I don’t think the politicians represent the people, and they certainly don’t represent me.” –Sean, age 22, #OccupyBoston

Boston’s General Assembly is in full swing when I arrive from Lower Manhattan. They’re discussing full inclusion, in this case Tea Party members. I had heard talk of a letter circulating on the Internet–allegedly from a Tea Party supporter–warning the #Occupy movement not to be co-opted like the “original” Tea Party was by powerful special interests like the Koch Brothers.

The notion of a letter like this isn’t far fetched. I’ve personally talked to a number of Tea Party members who, like many in the #Occupy movement, oppose bailing-out major banks, shutting down the fed, and corporate tax loopholes, ones like Bank of America exploits (which allow them to actually receive hundreds of millions of dollars in refunds, while they introduce $5 debit card fees and lay off many thousands of people.)

“We can’t let racists into the movement!” àrgues one woman opposed to Tea Party inclusion.

It appears, though, that she is in the minority. This, I think, speaks to the remarkably inclusive spirit of the #Occupy movement. The Tea Party, like the #Occupy movement, are part of what these activists call “The 99%”–meaning not members of the 1%, who, it is estimated by most economists, control 40% of America’s wealth.

#OccupyBoston, I learn as I sit in on their lively General Assembly meetings, overall hold a very strong belief that the political polarization that has “infected” American politics should be left out of this direct democratic process. It is these two aspects–inclusion and civility–that stand out among the Boston and New York assemblies. I suspect that any overtly racist or anti-semetic elements would summarily be expunged if they became too much of a problem moving forward, as these assemblies continue hammering out a list of demands through the often slow, and sometimes frustrating path to consensus. Real democracy is a very laborious process.

The Boston occupation’s relaxed, almost party-like atmosphere is a far cry from the frenetic, adrenaline-filled one blocks from Wall Street, where marchers never know when the next NYPD crackdown will happen. Not that Wall Street doesn’t have its wonderful music and celebration, but the amazing cooperation and support the Boston police have shown the protesters certainly takes the edge off here. There are no barricades surrounding the perimeter, no counter-terrorism units looking down at you from their command trucks when you awake in your sleeping bag, and certainly no night sticks and pepper-spray. In fact, with just a few minutes notice, the police here will shut down whole streets for the protesters to march down. The Boston police force, so far at least, seem to understand that it is their duty to protect the rights of citizens and not harass them by tearing down tarps in the rain or arresting an occupation’s media team.

During my three days in Boston, I noticed how rapidly their membership was growing. GA members are in talks, reportedly, to acquire a larger space. By my third day there were no longer room for tents, and Nurses United had announced an alliance with the occupation, as well as a few student unions, who were planning walk-outs of area colleges in solidarity with the movement.

As I caught an afternoon bus from South Station to head back to #OccupyWallStreet, I couldn’t help but feel a sense that a major milestone was unfolding before my eyes, due in no small part to this tent city across from the Federal Reserve Bank o Boston, in the cradle of American revolution.

I’m now in Washington D.C spending time with #OccupyKSt/#OccupyBoston. I’ll leave next for #OccupyPhilly.

The Project will continue to bring you updates via live-Tweeting (@DavGolProject and @DustinSlaughter) as events unfold on the ground, as well as profiles and editorials. I’m also putting together a short documentary about the movement. But I can’t do it without your help.

Please consider donating just $10 to the Project’s Occupy Media Fund. Your help will enable me to continue my work as I literally live on-site, sleeping in plazas and tent cities as the American Autumn unfolds before our eyes.

Thank you so much for your interest in the Project, and don’t hesitate to contact me with comments, criticisms and questions.

To donate:

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3 responses to “Reimagining a Revolution in Boston: Three Days with #OccupyBoston

  • jruthkelly

    i have to say my faith in this nation is bolstered by the people who pound the pavement with their insistence on better days, this #occupy revolution is long overdue. your description of the boston police is heartening and profoundly highlights the ugliness of NYPD. thanks for sharing…will be following closely.

  • npn


    SOURCE: AP ) A group called the October 11 movement had organized the march in order to protest the U.S. government’s use of unmanned drones overseas, joined by a few members of the D.C. branch of the Occupy Wall Street movement, as the Post reported Saturday. Howley writes that a small number of protesters—himself included—had tried to move past the security guards at the main entrance of the museum and got pepper-sprayed before they hit the second set of doors that led to the museum.

    But, according to his account, Howley was determined to escalate the protest further. “I wasn’t giving up before I had my story,” he writes, describing how he continued to rush past security into the museum itself. “I strained to glance behind me at the dozens of protesters I was sure were backing me up, and then I got hit again, this time with a cold realization: I was the only one who had made it through the doors….So I was surprised to find myself a fugitive Saturday afternoon, stumbling around aircraft displays with just enough vision to keep tabs on my uniformed pursuers. ‘The museum is now closed!’”

    Howley, in fact, chides the protesters for not taking his lead and rushing into the museum after being pepper-sprayed. “In the absence of ideological uniformity, these protesters have no political power. Their only chance, as I saw it, was to push the envelope and go bold. But, if today’s demonstration was any indicator, they don’t have what it takes to even do that.”

  • Ubiscious

    Amazing. Please, with all due respect, please find time to check out and hopefully support because like you, it truly speaks for the movement. Much love and keep up your amazing work.

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