Putting yesterday into perspective. Photo by Benjamin Cooper.
An estimated 400-500-person crowd gathered sitting Indian-style on the grass for #Occupyboston’s General Assembly (#BostonGA) meeting at 7 p.m. last night. Facilitators said the goal was to allow individuals to express their feelings about the BPD’s “brutal attack” and 141 arrests at 1:30 a.m. Monday night at the Second Encampment by telling their personal stories, in order to “get the story from as many angles as possible (i.e. from people who were arrested; witnesses; Legal Groupers who explained how to respond when arrested; those who couldn’t be there; and those who heard about it only via social media).
The meeting opened with a run-down of the key points of the #occupyboston Press Release that came out yesterday morning, which can be found at occupyboston.com. As officers arrested Urszula Masny-Latos, Executive Director for the National Lawyers Guild of Mass, and four medics trying to help the injured, #occupyboston stated that “the BPD made no distinction between protestors, medics, or legal observers,” and “brutally attacked” Occupiers who were “peacefully gathered” on the Greenway.
#Occupyboston remains concerned that BPD Commissioner Ed Davis has made no apology, and
During the GA, hundreds of heads tilted upward to watch a video of the BPD arresting protestors, which was projected on the wall before them.
It was confirmed that all 141 people arrested yesterday have been released.
Facilitators said that #occupyboston raised more than needed for the bail fund amidst whoops and cheers.
The individual accounts opened with a girl named Alison, who said that Rush Limbaugh has made claims that #occupyboston edited their videos to remove clips of protestors being violent.
“We did nothing to provoke what they did to us,” Alison said. “We did nothing wrong.”
Jason M. advised to call your friends if arrested and have them contact the National Lawyers’ Guild, to make sure someone you know will answer can help you. Jason was with the Veterans for Peace group when the BPD met the line of protestors, and officers ripped off his dog tags as he fell to the ground before throwing him into a paddy wagon without his glasses so he could not see.
One Vet, Pat Scanlon, said the goal of the Veterans for Peace was to “stand between them and you.”
“We wanted to protect you. We were proud to stand with you.”
Another kid told his story of being arrested and confined in a “cold cell with no food for 13 hours.”
One man said he rushed in to help when he saw the Vets attacked, and overheard an officer saying “We’ve got another one with those bottles in his hands,” (saline solution to flush out eyes) before attacking him as he helped someone who was having an asthma attack—nevertheless, he ended with:
“We’re not fucking intimidated.”
One woman’s voice cracked as she explained that she felt an “odd sort of guilt” because she couldn’t make the protest and kept hearing about what was going on from home. She wished she could have been there for her friends.
“The movement is growing. We’re going to have expand,” said one man.
“Ideally I’d like to camp out in front of Mayor Menino’s office so he can see us every morning,” he added.
Dennis, who said the main contribution he can make is “being here and being old,” had his hands cuffed so tight that he had to get some stitches in his wrist.
One young man said he was disappointed with #occupyboston’s use of “hyperbolic propaganda”:
“Hyperbolic language discredits us all.”
An elementary school teacher who got arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge with Occupy Wallstreet (#OWS) said #occupyboston should be most proud that their “main emotion was peace.”
“We made a democratic decision and stuck by it,” she said. “This is what democracy looks like. Now the younger generations will have role models.”
“I’m proud to be here with you now,” he added.
One woman stepped up as a representative of the dozens of Greenway affiliates who were disappointed in #occupyboston’s expansion onto the newly renovated public space. She said she came to the GA to answer #occupyboston’s blog post saying that those who disagree should “come down and make your opinions known.”
“Please don’t ignore us just because we can’t be here constantly,” she said. “I came here to represent [those Greenway affiliates],” as #occupyboston supporters cheered her on.
A self-proclaimed hippie said that he “hasn’t been through much shit in his life,” but he believes the ideal attitude of Occupiers should be “to be completely full of compassion [for all those with different opinions], “including the person breaking your wrist.”
Following public experience stories, the GA split into small discussion groups of 5-10 people to discuss what happened from each person’s perspective, which facilitators said would allow those who were afraid to talk in front of a crowd to have their voices heard. Ten minutes was added to the small group discussion time to talk about ideas for peaceful expansion.
The ground was peppered with people sitting in circles and the air was filled with the voices of debate.
Much of the discussion revolved around one of the main contestations with the #occupyboston movement: the lack of a common goal.
A girl across the circle from me said that “she liked the guy with the sign that said, ‘We’re not disorganized. America just has too many problems.”
Photo by Benjamin Cooper.
It was noted that revolutions must start somewhere, and cannot come from the ground up and immediately be totally systematic. In addition, the consensus in our group was that this is only the first step, the beginning of the movement, and from here it must become more mission-based.
After we discussed how democracy involves educated discussion (like the GA meetings) in which each person can bounce his/her ideas off other people in order to create new ideas and reach a more centralized mission, I added that this method is “like writing an English paper.”
“It’s like when you first write your paper and you think you know exactly what you’re going to talk about, but then realize that it’s all over the place because you have too many ideas,” while those in the circle raised their arms and wiggled their fingers. “But then if you step back and explain what you’re trying to say to a friend, and they tell you what they think you mean and add their ideas, it starts to come together and you realize the main point you want to make.”
Like articles, figuring out the core idea you are trying to express is an organic process. It shapes and forms as you write.
In my group, one kid said he thought #occupyboston should create a working group that only researches privately owned places that would let protestors occupy. “Then we could occupy all over and march in all directions,” he told the group.
Another girl said she’d like to see more education workshops because she found that a lot of people don’t know what they’re talking about.
Tag all tweets about @Occupy_Boston with #occupyboston so others who can’t be there can follow.
#Occupyboston’s livestream is available here.
B speaks about “State Repression” and democracy:
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