At 5:00 am this Saturday morning, on orders from Mayor Thomas Menino, Boston police raided and cleared the Occupy Boston site, ending the 150-tent encampment that began September 30, 2011 at Dewey Square in the heart of Boston’s financial district. At the time of the police action, roughly 50 tents and 100 occupiers were in the park, directly across from the Federal Reserve Bank and South Station, Boston’s train/subway/commuter rail hub. According to Police Superintendent William Evans, several dozen were arrested for trespassing, and several for “locking arms and resisting arrest.” Bulldozers are being used to remove tents, and the site has been barricaded.
The encampment was prepared for the raid. The logistics, medical, library, and food tents had been removed to safety Thursday night, to preserve that infrastructure for future occupations. A state court ruling on Wednesday by Judge Frances McIntyre lifted a temporary restraining and gave the mayor the legal opening to issue an eviction order effective midnite Thursday. That night, several thousand supporters rallied to defend the site, in what turned into a dance party.
Knowing that a raid was imminent, Friday night’s General Assembly was somber and resolute, as speakers addressed how to continue advancing the Occupy movement in the post-Dewey-Square phase -- without the advantages and the problems of holding land. A General Assembly will be held at 7 pm tonight at the Boston Commons Band Stand (further updates at http://www.occupyboston.org/).
Judge McIntyre’s ruling is still being examined for legal precedent. She acknowledged that the expression at Dewey Square fell under First Amendment free speech protections, but focused on the word “occupation” that “speaks of boldness, outrage, and a willingness to take personal risk.” Against the claim that “the occupation is the message,” she wrote that “occupation, defined as taking possession by settlement or seizure, is not a symbol or expressive conduct that is constitutionally protected.”