On early Tuesday morning, Boston police violently arrested 141 members of Occupy Boston for expanding their peaceable assembly to a new encampment without city authorization. The number of activists participating in the occupation of the Rose Kennedy Greenway in the heart of Boston’s financial district has steadily grown since the beginning of October, leading to the confrontation.
After the arrests and the destruction of the expanded encampment, Mayor Thomas Menino and Police Commissioner Ed Davis have offered conflicting accounts of the reasons for the city’s actions, from protecting grass to preventing outdoor sleeping. Davis called those arrested “anarchists,” and Menino claimed “outsiders” who came “from another country” hijacked the Occupy Boston protest:
MENINO: “There’s evidence that some other individuals who have came into the group and want to create trouble for the City of Boston and also get an aggressive message out there. They’re not the same people we talked to last week and the week before. You know, they come into cities and create this atmosphere and then they go to another city and create the atmosphere — they don’t care if they get arrested, they just move from city to city to raise the issue of civil disobedience.” [NECN, 10/11/11]
MENINO: “The folks who have moved in and tried to create civil disobedience aren’t the ones who are really involved in this protest. They’re the outsiders who come in from city to city and demonstration to demonstration.” [WBUR, 10/11/11]
MENINO: “These 40 people come from another country, another city, want to cause trouble in my city? They defied us. They broke the law. Allowing these 40 people to take over for all the people who are there is wrong.” [Boston Herald, 10/11/11]
DAVIS: “The group that was here for the first ten days was working very closely with us, that broke down today. We talked to the people we’ve been dealing with and they said the anarchists have taken over.” [WHDH, 10/11/11]
In fact, the people arrested were part of Occupy Boston. The decision to expand the camp was made by consensus at an Occupy Boston collective meeting. Hours before any arrests were made and well before Menino and Davis’ claim of “outside” “anarchists,” Occupy Boston issued a press release: “Occupy Boston expanded to an adjoining section of the Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy to accommodate the many hundreds of people who come daily to join the occupation. This peaceful expansion was undertaken to make a place for everyone in our movement.”
Menino’s “40 people from another country” are a fantasy. Of the 141 arrestees, 135 are from the Boston area. The local residents arrested range from a 17-year-old high school student to a 64-year-old Vietnam veteran. Others arrested include legal observer Urszula Masny-Latos, executive director for the Massachusetts branch of the National Lawyers Guild, and Boston University student John Wood, who wrote about his ordeal.