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BU Student Relives Arrest with Occupy Boston

Hours handcuffed and jailed, but determined to protest again

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John Brandon Wood sat in his microeconomics class on Comm Ave yesterday, just 32 hours after he’d been carted off to jail by riot police.

Wood (CAS’13) had joined Monday’s Occupy Boston protest against political and financial elites out of his conviction that corporations control the government. He was one of about a half dozen BU students among the 141 Occupy Boston protesters arrested in the wee hours of Tuesday morning.

Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore says the police have not sent formal complaints about the arrested students to the University; if they do, the University will schedule hearings to listen to the students’ side.

As for any sanctions, “it’s case by case, so it’s hard for me to say whether or not there will be any disciplinary action,” says Elmore (SED’87). Ironically, his regular Friday Coffee and Conversation last week discussed the protest and drew a packed house of about 150.

“I’m never encouraging anyone to break the law,” Elmore says, “but I am encouraging everyone to engage in the civic process. At some point, students have to make some decisions for themselves” as to whether that engagement involves a willingness to be arrested and face potential University sanctions. “This is a form of democracy we’re watching. I encourage young people to follow their convictions, wherever they may lead.”

Boston police made the arrests after protesters defied an order late Monday night to leave the Rose Kennedy Greenway, where officials worried the mass gathering would damage recent renovations. The police said neither officers nor protesters suffered serious injuries, although one cop was hit in the face. For its part, Occupy Boston issued a statement that police officers had “brutally attacked” demonstrators.

Wood says he joined BU’s arm of Occupy Boston after “doing a lot of research about how our current campaign financing system functions and how much influence corporations have on our government.” The movement also attracted him with its grassroots origin—“people coming together and having a conversation about these problems that isn’t happening on media, that isn’t coming from the politicians.”

Occupy Boston protest

Photo by Lei Han

According to Wood, he was a link in the “human chain” surrounding Occupy Boston’s camp, standing just behind the point where police initially advanced. “Riot police went straight for people’s hands in order to break their grip and break the chain, and many held for a very long time,” he says. “I was fighting to hold my footing and grip while two riot police officers came to the two people on either side of me and tried to break their grip.” Once the officers succeeded, he says, three cops tried to force him on the ground, yelling, “We’ll take this one! We’ll take this one!” One repeatedly kicked Wood in the back of his knees to get him down, he says.

Once on the ground, Wood says, he “felt an immense weight on top of me.” He yelled his name to a legal representative assisting Occupy Boston, then was cuffed in plastic wrist restraints that he says cut off the circulation to his hands and “caused extreme pain.”

He complied with the officers when they escorted him to a paddy wagon, which took him and eight others to a Dorchester jail. He was put in a cell with another arrestee and kept there for several hours, handcuffed, waiting to be processed. The cell was small, dirty, and “worst of all, extremely cold,” he says. “I managed to get my cuffs in front of me, and I tried to get some sleep,” but failed because of a bright ceiling light. Finally, he was fingerprinted and processed.

Later in the morning, he was driven to a holding cell with other protesters and had to wait several hours, cuffed again, to see a judge. “The worst of all, for me at least, was tracking the time of day,” Wood says. “In jail, there are no windows or clocks, so there is no conception of the time of day, which began to disturb me as time went on.

“The guards called a dozen names at a time every 30 minutes or so, and I was finally taken to the courtroom with a dozen others, where I accepted the $50 ticket” and was freed. The fine was part of a deal worked out by prosecutors, but some protesters declined to take it, arguing that the arrests were inappropriate, the Boston Globe reports.

According to the Globe, the police advanced on the protestors after two warnings to leave, putting them on their stomachs, immobilizing their arms behind their backs, and dragging them off.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino (Hon.’01) says he endorses Occupy Boston’s goals, but could not stand by once the group began to impede traffic and set up camp on the renovated Greenway, which they’d been asked to skirt. “Civil disobedience will not be tolerated,” the mayor said at a press conference on Tuesday.

About 35 BU students gathered at the George Sherman Union Tuesday night to discuss sending a letter to city officials about how the arrests were handled, as well as ways to help arrested BU students and the logistics of continuing the protest. The Boston University Police Department monitored the meeting, at which several students voiced their reasons for joining Occupy Boston.

“The corporations that make billions are given tax breaks at the expense of health care, education, infrastructure, and other services for citizens who pay tax,” said Kareem Chehayeb (CAS’13). Aviva Stein (CAS’14) objected to there being “such a huge gap in the population economically. It’s important to understand the history behind that and move forward in a positive way, because other efforts haven’t worked.”

Wood’s thoughts after his encounter with the Boston legal system? “I hope that more people come down and have their voices heard.…Professors and the academic community need to get more involved with their expertise, either by going down to the occupation, discussing it in class, or setting up panels to talk about the issues.”

As for himself, “there is no question that I will rejoin” the occupation, he says. “I never left.” In fact, he thinks it’s likely that he’ll be rearrested at some point.

Allison Thomasseau can be reached at althoma@bu.edu.

39 Comments
Rich Barlow

Rich Barlow can be reached at barlowr@bu.edu.

39 Comments on BU Student Relives Arrest with Occupy Boston

  • Patrick on 10.13.2011 at 6:05 am

    This may be the most unbiased account of the incident that I have read. Most articles take the group’s allegations of a “brutal attack” at face value and report it as fact. I observed the arrests early Tuesday morning, and for much of the night, I stood next to someone who I assume was in the media arm of the group. I saw everything he saw, and most likely a bit more, as he was a fair bit shorter than me. As I left, I heard him talking into his phone, saying “They assaulted us, people are being brutally beaten down here.” Such distortion is most likely meant to sway those who are still on the fence, but it is still incredibly unethical.

    There are, however, several points in the article that could use further explanation. The Rose Kennedy Greenway is a collection of grassy plots, separated by streets, that presently occupy the footprint of the old Central Artery. The protesters set up on one section outside of South Station. They were given verbal approval by the managing authority of the Greenway and tacit approval by the city to demonstrate on that plot. The occupiers were told not to expand to a second plot, across a street, as they were not given permission to demonstrate there, and would face arrest. No order was given to leave the Greenway, just the second plot. Protesters on the original plot were allowed to stay, but shortly after 1 AM, BPD, State Police, and Transit Police began to surround the second plot, which is where the incident described in the article took place. The protest is still continuing healthily at the original location, though the mayor has implied that the occupiers will not be able to stay indefinitely.

    Mayor Menino has come under heat recently for his comments saying that “civil disobedience will not be tolerated,” with many saying that he is essentially spitting on Massachusetts’ rich history of civil disobedience. A moment of thought would reveal, however, that there is no such thing as “civil disobedience” if the authority accepts the protest without complaint. Thoreau would not have written his essay had the tax collectors simply accepted his decision to not fund the Mexican-American War. The author was thrown in jail, and out of his incarcerations came one of the greatest essays in the history of New England. That being said, if the police do send a formal complaint to the university, I urge Dean Elmore to be lenient. I understand the need for the university to comply with the police, but if those arrested pay their fines, there is no need for disciplinary action here. Not only does this protest have nothing to do with the University, it also did not affect anyone in a way that would necessitate additional sanctions.

  • Patrick on 10.13.2011 at 6:39 am

    I’m sorry, the first paragraph of my post was a bit unclear. I forgot to include the fact that there were no beatings, and no visible police brutality. Watching some of the videos shot from inside the park, you may see people getting “thrown to the ground by police,” but upon closer inspection, they are merely falling to the ground when confronted by police. This is a common tactic meant to make it more difficult for the protester to be removed from the area. The distortion of the amount of force used in the arrests, including the playing up of flexi-cuff injuries, is a black mark on the protest as a whole. The protesters can not be exercising civil disobedience and also be victims, they must choose one or the other. Thoreau earned his prison stay and took full responsibility; he did not complain about the manner of his arrest.

  • Occupy your classroom on 10.13.2011 at 6:59 am

    Mr. Wood’s parents and those of the other BU students who “Occupied Boston” must be so proud, after paying over 40K per year to send their kids to BU, to see them getting arrested for protesting rather than “Occupying Class”. Glad to see these folks put in jail. Try getting a job with an arrest record, or is that Wall Street’s fault as well?

    • Bob on 10.13.2011 at 10:20 am

      I’d say this goes down as the ignorant comment of the month. Agreed?

      • Tricia on 10.13.2011 at 10:52 am

        agreed!

      • Tessa on 10.13.2011 at 5:48 pm

        agreed!

    • David on 10.13.2011 at 10:26 am

      There was no class on Monday; what are you rambling about?

    • Aditya on 10.13.2011 at 11:54 am

      1) No class on Monday
      2) College students have always been one of the most (if not THE most) socially active demographic groups in the nation.

      I think you’ve completely failed to take an honest look at the issues. If even Dean Elmore says that students should follow their beliefs, who are you take this position of intellectual superiority?
      If not us, who? If not now, when?

    • Mr. Wood on 10.13.2011 at 2:07 pm

      My parents are very proud of me, doesn’t show up in my record and I have a 3.5 gpa. College is more about getting a job…its about improving yourself and your surroundings; beyond the narrow scope of money.

      • In for some reality shock on 10.13.2011 at 10:54 pm

        In a few years you will be one of those complaining that they went to BU and work at Starbucks; that BU never prepared you for the real world. (Unless you have a parental trust fund to live on.)

      • Wood (sister) on 11.09.2011 at 1:42 pm

        I’m Mr. Wood’s sister and I’m proud of him for doing something that he fully believes in!
        no because he’s my brother, but he is a role model to others.
        Standing up for what we believe in.
        Like Martin Luther King Jr.

  • Mr. X on 10.13.2011 at 7:27 am

    Good points made Patrick. Below is an excerpt from another blog, this individual could NOT have placed it any better than I possibly could.

    “The Left have expanded their power through their control of academia, the elite news media, union leaders, trial lawyers, the bureaucracy, the courts, and lobbyists at the state and federal levels. They share a vision of a secular, socialist America run for the interests of the members of the political machine that keeps them in power. It will be an America where government dominates the people rather than represents them. In short, they want to use government power to change who we are and how we think. Secular socialists believe the only reliable institution is a bureaucratic, centralized, supremely powerful government. Their answer to virtually every problem is higher taxes, more spending, and bigger bureaucracies, because they don’t believe Americans can be trusted to make the “right” decisions.
    Traditional America values hard work, entrepreneurship, innovation, and merit-based upward mobility. But the secular-socialist machine rewards its members, punishes overachievers, kills jobs by over-taxing small businesses, and even exploits your death to tax the savings you hope to pass on to your children and grandchildren.

    Traditional America was based on a profound belief that “we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights.” But secular socialists are so opposed to God in public life that they can’t tolerate school prayer or even allow a cross to stand in the middle of the Mojave Desert. Americans traditionally believed in American exceptionalism—that America has a special mission to protect and spread freedom. For many in the secular-socialist Left, however, the only thing exceptional about America is our supposed viciousness. They believe America is an exploitive, imperialist aggressor, and that the U.S. military is a nefarious tool of corporate interests. Some on the Left even hope for America’s wartime defeat as a means to stop us from promoting American values across the world.” -SanTeodoro

    • questioner on 10.13.2011 at 1:18 pm

      What about those who are deeply religious, but to a different God? Is it understandable for them not to share these “christian values?” What is wrong with a secular point of view? Are those who are not religious lesser human beings than those who are? Just some thoughts.

    • Someone's Going to Call me Ignorant on 10.13.2011 at 1:55 pm

      This is a brilliant blog post. I hope those who have been living their entire lives (without question) on the left will realize how close to home this hits.

      • Michelle on 10.14.2011 at 4:08 pm

        Wow, that was probably the most ridiculous and incredibly right-winged piece I have ever read. It worries me that there are actually people who 1) believe this stuff 2)write blogs like that, and 3) read it and can actually not LAUGH at the absurdity.

        I will go ahead and call you ignorant, and I hope that you will one day look and see how close to home what we on the left (who do question and do not blindly follow like most of you on the “right”) are saying actually hits.

        • Lisa on 10.17.2011 at 3:02 am

          I agree with Michelle. That is some totally right-winged piece. And what is the heck is a “secular socialist”?!

          I agree with Dean Elmore, us youth should start standing up for our beliefs.

  • Commensurate on 10.13.2011 at 9:36 am

    What I find odd about some comments is that the level of scrutiny applied to the accuracy of the protesters’ reports is not applied to the actions of the BPD, even from just a public communications perspective.

    Allowing media more access would have made it harder for anyone to misrepresent what took place. Why was the media told to leave the area? Why did the arrests take place at night, and in particular after most of the media had left? Why was there a wall of officers keeping media out of the line of sight of the arrests?

    Why was a more consistent justification for the arrests not provided? At least three distinct reasons were cited on three separate occasions. Given such an expensive and overwhelming show of numbers, taxpayers should expect that at least it should be clear what the exact reason was.

    Shouldn’t the BPD and city of Boston display at least as much competence in communicating as the protesters?

  • Patrick on 10.13.2011 at 10:22 am

    The media was told to leave the area because the park was closed and they risked arrest if they stayed in the park. They were not told to leave the sidewalks around the park, where observers were able to see what transpired. The arrests took place at night, because the park was not closed during the day. Despite the fact that the demonstrators did not have any sort of permit or approval to be at the park, it would be my assumption that the police waited until nightfall so that they would have even more grounds to remove the protesters. Many parks “close” at nightfall or midnight. The officers waited until after midnight, gave notice that they were coming, provided notification that, if the protesters did not leave the park, they would be arrested, showed up, announced that those who did not leave the park would be arrested, waited, and then moved in. The 80-minute delay was mostly due to extra warnings. As to most of the media not being there, reporters from channels 5, 7, NECN, as well as newspaper reporters were on hand. I’m not entirely sure where you got your information that most media members were gone. The channel 5 reporter, when asked at around 12:30 if she would stick around, replied “Well there’s not much else going on tonight.”

    If the wall of officers was specifically for the media, don’t you think that police would try harder to confiscate audio-visual and communication devices from inside the camp? The line was more to hold a perimeter to stop more demonstrators from entering during the arresting period. On the off-chance people flooded in once arrests started, it could devolve into chaos. It was a precaution.

    As to why one cohesive reason was not given, that answer is the simplest of all: the city wants to have its rear end covered three times over. If people say reason one was stupid (let’s say it’s the one where ‘anarchists took over,’ easily the worst of the bunch), they still have reasons two and three to fall back on.

    And if you want the city of Boston to communicate competently, perhaps you should tell the citizens to elect a man who isn’t graced with the nickname “Mumbles.”

    • Commensurate on 10.13.2011 at 1:36 pm

      Everything the BPD and city did is technically legal. Everything the protesters did after being arrested, including complaining and even misrepresenting what occurred, is also technically legal.

      Your criticism addressed /ethics/, (and depending on one’s level of cynicism, /strategy/):

      “Such distortion is most likely meant to sway those who are still on the fence, but it is still incredibly unethical.”

      In effect, those in a vulnerable and inexperienced position are being held to a higher standard of ethics than a large organization and the group of trained, armed professionals under their authority.

      Thoreau had what were and are considered by many to be unorthodox ideas about how much control he has over how his tax dollars should be spent. Perhaps the younger generation has unorthodox ideas about the level of intimidation, destruction of property, and physical contact that constitutes “brutality”.

      You are either questioning their sincerity and conviction using your own subjective standards, or you are criticizing their entirely legal but cynical strategy while dismissing an equally cynical but legal strategy employed by the BPD and city as “that’s the way things are, if you don’t like it, elect someone else.”

      • Patrick on 10.13.2011 at 5:21 pm

        I understand what you’re accusing me of, but I respectfully disagree. Ideally, I’d like for both sides to tell the truth, and that would more than meet my standard for ethical media relations. Unfortunately, as someone who has grown up following MA politics and reading statements for many years, I know that you really can’t trust anything that comes out of the State House, City Hall, or any police department. Everyone has their own agenda, and you need to read between the lines when someone in the public sector speaks. “New transparency laws” are great, but when the legislators still allow closed-door meetings to go on, all while touting the new openness of government, you know that nothing’s going to change in the near future. A protest group though, is supposed to represent the people, and, as I have been told several times when I visited, the group is fighting for me. So yes, I do hold them to a higher standard, partly because dishonesty goes against several of the messages they advocate, but mostly because I have more respect for them than the government. I expect to get the runaround from Davis and Menino, and I’ve come to accept it as a fact of life. If the occupiers can’t even let their case stand on its own merit, without playing the part of brutalized victims, then why should I support them?

        I like your reasoning behind the point on brutality, but you are wrong. It doesn’t matter how they define it; they are using it in a forum that goes by the government’s definition. You can have your own definition of the word “rape,” but if you accuse someone in a public forum, you better make sure you’re using the correct dictionary definition.

        So yes, I guess you are right. I’m viewing this through my lens of “The establishment will never be honest, but if the protesters are also dishonest, then what makes them any better?” But that is just how I view the world. The fact that these people are vulnerable and inexperienced makes them better in my eyes. I look at what they say and take it at face value, instead of City Hall, which I will always examine and ask “What’s their angle on this?”

        And my last line was meant to be a joke. As I stated above, no matter who’s in office, I don’t think communication will ever get any better, but I couldn’t resist taking a dig at Menino’s difficulty speaking. As someone who’s lived around Boston my whole life, it didn’t even occur to me that someone wouldn’t get it.

        P.S. Just for future reference, I am a member of the younger generation. Their vernacular is my vernacular.

  • ewong on 10.13.2011 at 10:29 am

    Mr. X, maybe you should go and observe a joint-denominational, ecumenical service at Dewey Square (Wednesdays). Or, if applicable, go to a Friday Shabbat. Or even Sunday interfaith service. I would argue that the proof is in the pudding- God and religion is not being eradicated.

    As for Patrick, of course some level of discomfort and long wait times and minor scrapes and cuts and bruises can and should be expected in protests. Narratives after the fact are predictable. Protestors hyperbolicize the degree of violence and law enforcement dampen it as much as possible. Somewhere in between is the most reasonable reality.

    However, what concerns me is EXACTLY what Commensurate notes. The design of the strategy for removing the protestors from the contested space does not speak positively of the intentions of the BPD. Why ban the very people who would be able to corroborate their accounts prior to moving into the space?

  • Nicolas on 10.13.2011 at 10:37 am

    “Occupy Your Classroom” –> You are GLAD to have them thrown in jail? For exercising the right to voice their opinions through protest? Look at the extent to which our country goes to maintain the freedom we all know and love so well. You may disagree with the cause; however, your hateful comments seem misplaced. Mr. Wood’s parents may very well be proud of their son. Although the charge (which could easily be expunged and was most likely a petty misdemeanor) could pose potential threats to future employment options, unless he wants to work on Wall St, he will most likely be able to properly explain the situation. Mr. Wood does not seem the type of individual who aspires to be, yet another business major crammed into a cubicle at Merril Lynch reading the latest copy of “I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell” and bragging to their friends on Facebook about the large hedge-fund they are hoping to score.

    I love this country and I love our rights. Having been at protests before, I understand how the mob-effect can occur and how tensions can escalate. That being said, this does not sound like an aggressive protest, nor does it sound as if the number of protesters had reached a troubling number. All claims of brutality aside (and think of yourself in riot gear…would you use delicacy in your arrests, we are all human at the end of the day), sending riot police to arrest and remove a number of protestors in an effort to protect newly renovated gardens is completely absurd and unwarranted. If your actions were truly deemed necessary due to concerns for the SAFETY of Bostonians, say so. Do NOT use your renovations and profound fear that these protestors may step on the newly planted daisies as your scapegoat.

    At the end of the day, this is Boston were talking about…not Miami. That garden will be under 8 feet of ice and snow in due time. Mother Nature doesn’t take kindly to zip-ties and stress positions City of Boston….

  • Tricia on 10.13.2011 at 10:45 am

    Dear Mr. X (Newt Gingrich– is that you??),

    Pop quiz: Can you name this amendment?? “The amendment prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.”

    I mean if the Left had the all the power you are assigning it — there would hardly be a need for protest because they would just have it their way!

    I say bravo to the students for participating in our wonderful democracy! I don’t think there’s anything that proves our “execeptionalism” more than citizens exercising their rights guaranteed under the Constitution.

    Need I spell it out?? I suppose so………I may not like what you say, but I will vigorously defend your right to say it!

    ps. Mr. Patrick: the protesters were “merely falling to the ground”??? I’ve seen various videos — the police are not entirely blameless. Of course, to be fair nor were some of the protestors.

    Also, why was the media asked to leave? If professional media were present, there would have been no question as to how the police behaved. As Boston is one of the few cities that actually trains its police force that they cannot prohibit the public from videotaping incidents I was surprised & suspicious at that request.

  • NotFooledByTheMedia on 10.13.2011 at 11:10 am

    you know, Ron Paul only takes campaign contributions from individual donors. That leaves a limit of $2,000 per individual. As for all the other candidates and also the Pres. himself, you just have to follow the paper trail, as they say. Speaking of the president, I don’t know who he is closer with, Michelle or the CEO of General Electric.

  • Chris on 10.13.2011 at 12:03 pm

    It’s pretty simple: they broke the law by occupying certain areas in such a way that disrupted the peace. They broke trespassing and unlawful assembly laws, so the police arrested, booked them and handed out fines as the law here dictates.

    No matter what you think about this issue, the police did exactly what they’re supposed to do.

  • tacoguy on 10.13.2011 at 12:06 pm

    This kid needs to grow a pair:

    -“felt an immense weight on top of me.”
    -cuffed in plastic wrist restraints that he says cut off the circulation to his hands and “caused extreme pain.”
    -The cell was small, dirty, and “worst of all, extremely cold,” he says. “I managed to get my cuffs in front of me, and I tried to get some sleep,” but failed because of a bright ceiling light.

    Are they sure it was a “paddy wagon” and not a wambulance though?

    Lastly
    “I’m never encouraging anyone to break the law,” Elmore says

    resisting arrest n. the crime of using physical force (no matter how slight in the eyes of most law enforcement officers) to prevent arrest, handcuffing and/or taking the accused to jail. It is also called “resisting an officer” (but that can include interfering with a peace officer’s attempt to keep the peace) and is sometimes referred to merely as “resisting.”-http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/resisting+arrest

  • Adam on 10.13.2011 at 12:11 pm

    Patrick, I see that you were quite thorough in your descriptions of what transpired, however, I wanted to know what your thoughts were on the intentional destruction of personal property by BPD. That is to say, when they called in the garbage trucks and destroyed thousands of dollars worth of tents and other such things following the arrests. Was this a lawful act, or an act of desperation, by a group of people obviously on edge about the growing number of protesters making their voices heard, there are videos available showing the actual event. If you didn’t know it happened, you can easily search for it. And please make no mistake, I believe you to be one of the more unbiased people in this community from what you’ve already stated, so please, let me know what you know about this.

  • Marshall on 10.13.2011 at 12:29 pm

    I’m very glad that this article presented the arrest as not police brutality. It is terrible that Brandon was arrested, but as many other commentators have pointed out, the police were not at fault. Could they have been more gentle to the protestors? Maybe- but if someone refuses to leave, makes it hard to move them.

    It’s interesting because what is happening in the discourse on these comments is what this blog post describes as happening
    http://bucultureshock.com/?p=13440

  • Patrick on 10.13.2011 at 1:16 pm

    I’m sorry Tricia, I should have been more precise with my words. Re-reading my comment, it does seem dismissive. I was referring to one specific video that I had seen reposted several places that shows a young man appear to be thrown to the ground. I initially thought he was thrown by the police, but after being on the ground for a few seconds, he stood back up. Another policeman applied downward pressure to his shoulders, and he once again fell to the ground, as if struck. Something didn’t seem right to me, so I watched that clip closely several times, and it is my opinion that the young man could not have fallen in such a manner, especially twice, if he did not want to fall. If I could find the clip, I would show you, but I can’t remember where I saw it and many of the clips are named similarly, as I’m sure you know.

    It is also worth mentioning that I was referring only to people thrown by police, i.e., not taken down, people who were in free-fall at some point. I’m sure you’ve seen the video of the older veteran falling. I watched that many times as well, and I was unable to tell if the man was thrown, if he tripped, or some combination of the two (shoving leading to a loss of balance, etc.) I apologize for saying that I had observed multiple people taking dives, when I really meant one out of two.

    Adam, you also bring up an excellent point, one that I had forgotten. I actually had an excellent view of this, even though I moved to get a different angle halfway through and missed the end. I am not sure if it was lawful or not, though it is unfortunately not without precedent. Police in the country, not sure about MA specifically, have been known to confiscate and destroy the tents, and I assume belongings of homeless people who must have been living on public land. I’m nearly certain that the police would have a right to seize the demonstrators’ property, but I am not sure which law they will point to as giving them right to destroy it.

    The way you asked the question was a bit loaded though. I personally don’t think that it was a lawful act, though I do think the police will have some sort of unsatisfactory answer ready if it comes to that. But I also don’t think it was an act of desperation. I think that it was an intimidating show of force, maybe by people on edge, but more by people who think that they have the power to end this whenever they want. And the thing is, they do have that power. They can’t kill the movement, or stop people from picketing on the sidewalk, but the encampment at Dewey Square can be gone before dawn tomorrow, and since the occupiers are relying on a verbal agreement with the Greenway Commission, and a “Well, you can stay there for now,” from the mayor’s office, they really don’t have a leg to stand on when it comes to their right to be there.

    I omitted this as well from my account, but replying to Adam’s comment jogged my memory. After the land had been cleared, and a as a fence was being put up around it, about two dozen uniformed police on motorcycles came by and lined up in a block formation. After the fence was finished and everything was done at that location, the block unwound as one by one, each police officer sped off, all in the same direction. It was so coordinated and so devoid of purpose that the only reasonable explanation is that it was a similar display of force, meant to intimidate.

  • Patrick on 10.13.2011 at 1:41 pm

    And Tricia, I missed it while typing out that long comment, but you must have misread my earlier post. I personally saw three television reporters, and that was just on my half of the protest. There were also various newspaper reporters for major and independent outlets. All of these people are professional media personnel. The police did not ban media from the site. My guess is that they asked media to leave the Greenway so that they would easily be able to differentiate between a journalist looking for a story and a protester engaging in civil disobedience. The journalist would be the one not on the green. If members of the media remained, they would get no special treatment from the police. They would be arrested just like everyone else.

    As to Boston being one of the few cities that trains its police to allow themselves to be videotaped, you couldn’t be more off-base. Massachusetts’ wiretapping laws made this state one of three in the country where it was ILLEGAL to videotape police. Thankfully, that appears to have been overturned based on an August 29th verdict from the Massachusetts Supreme Court that granted a private citizen the right to videotape on-duty (Boston) police, so long as it was not kept secret. This was less than 45 days ago. I sincerely doubt the BPD gave any special training between then and now, other than a brief “People can videotape you now. Watch yourself.”

    • Tricia on 10.14.2011 at 10:27 am

      Interesting on use of video. I’m looking for the article where I read that info & will try & post.

      • Tricia on 10.14.2011 at 10:42 am

        Forgot to say — i based my comment on the media being asked to leave on what the news organizations reported & on what i was told from people who were there.

        Here is a link on recent court ruling “court says public has the right to video police in public places”:
        http://www.universalhub.com/2011/court-says-state-law-banning-recording-police-offi

        I’m still looking for the other article on how officers are trained. If I can locate — will post.

        • Patrick on 10.14.2011 at 8:23 pm

          I was referring to that court ruling. It overturned the previous accepted interpretation that you could not tape police, as state wiretapping laws required consent from both sides.

  • leighann on 10.13.2011 at 3:38 pm

    the unemployment rate of college graduates is about 4.5%, so I suggest students continue their education, get that job, pay their bills and contribute to solving the problem in a move viable way than what I have seen in Boston, Atlanta, New York, LA, etc. And I believe that private enterprise, which is a lot more than
    “Wall Street” contribute to a viable economy and also are very generous to needs and causes of those less fortunate as well. Also, faithful people reach out and help those in need, as do countless volunteer organizations. Only when the government breaks their backs and financial prosperity with unfair and oppressive taxes and conditions, thus elimination of freedoms, does our country, economy, and the less fortunate suffer most.
    Steve Jobs did not take it with him but his hard work and intelligence and foresight made a lasting difference to so many before him and will do so after him. Without technology from his Wall Street corporation, these protests going nationwide and viral would not be possible, nor would the network that we are using right now. Let’s now spend so much time breaking the back of those that brought us here and stop to realize how fortunate we ALL really are. And yes, I pray that cooler heads will prevail on both sides. However, I have immense respect for the civil servants of Boston and am thankful that they are well trained in so many possible scenarios. Again, on 9/11, lest we not forget how they were our heroes and comfort and their courage inspired us and protected us as well.

  • Adam on 10.13.2011 at 11:39 pm

    Thanks for clearing that up Patrick, I realize that my question was way more complicated than was necessary, I’m not sure of the lawfulness either, which is why I had asked your opinion on it. And perhaps desperate wasn’t the right term either, though it was definitely an act of intimidation. Unfortunately the thing that the police and government have failed to realize time and time again, from protests to wars, this tactic never benefits them in the end. In reality whether or not the information provided by the social media and amateur reporters is 100% accurate it serves as propaganda for the movement, and will only draw more people to protest. That said, if someone in the government really wanted to end this they would discuss the demands of the people, but honestly I think this whole movement is being taken seriously, and that is a terrible flaw on the part of main stream media and Politicians in power. They may be basking in the wealth they made from bail outs and selling out their own people, but there’s absolutely no reason to think that these people will allow their voices to be silenced. I don’t know what the outcome will be for this country, but I hope it’s returned to the People. Just my two cents.

  • SARAH.Y.F on 10.14.2011 at 9:59 pm

    completely agree with occupy Boston , i believe that the students need to have someone help them and to hear their voices . In my opinion , the all problems was related to the finance . the people need a healthcare,educations , and others services with reasonable prices and taxes.
    “such a huge gap in the population economically. It’s important to understand the history behind that and move forward in a positive way, because other efforts haven’t worked,” Aviva Stein said . totally endorses with what she said it’s really important to do something that we know it will encourage the economy of the country , and to give the people their rights and good life .
    what happened to John Wood i think it’s illegal because he was giving his opinion about many things that’s also problems fo other people but they afraid to come up and to ask for their rights , he is really a brave person .

  • XXX on 10.16.2011 at 12:58 pm

    I totally agree with that Chris said above, “No matter what you think about this issue, the police did exactly what they’re supposed to do.”
    Poeple are out of their mind, especially the students. Even Elmore says “I encourage young people to follow their convictions, wherever they may lead.” Put into jail is not a glory. The police took fringerprints and this event will be record in your document forever. Your parents may be proud of you because your 3.5 GPA, but think about your future, this jail experience may destory your wonderful future. You should not only respon for yourself, but also think about your families and your friends (those who care about you). None of them want to visit you in the jail.
    Of course, we should fight for ourselves, but this is not the only way…..!
    “I’m never encouraging anyone to break the law,” Elmore says.

  • Jamal's Student on 10.17.2011 at 7:01 am

    I totally disagree with what “xxx” said above. Students have the right to express their opinions against the greatest corrupter of the democracy (Wall Street, the financial Gomorrah of America or the financial districts in Boston). The American Dream has inspired people all over the world and it’s the time to re-establish its credibility. All American have the right to make some decisions for themselves. I believe the 3.5 GPA will help you to get job but being brave enough to contribute in civic process will change your future and others future positively.
    “This is a form of democracy we’re watching. I encourage young people to follow their convictions, wherever they may lead.” Elmore says

  • Moe on 10.18.2011 at 12:17 am

    well actually in my opinion, I see that the whole thing can be resolved in another way rather than demonstrations and so on..
    I dunno what the solutions are! But I’m just sayin’..

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