On the newly ratified “Indigenous People’s Day,” in place of “Columbus Day,” by the General Assembly, students from all over the city marched across Boston in solidarity with the wider movement.
In just one weekend of organizing, more than 1,000 students rallied in the Boston Commons before leading a vibrant march to Dewey Square, where they met with various labor unions and the occupiers. They then continued to march around the city in stronger, larger numbers — by one estimate over 5,000. Unfortunately, this isn’t a breaking news story. Instead, we have vague details of an assault by the police and the city on the protestors.Interestingly, the police issued a warning to the occupiers that they would be forcibly removed shortly after the march and after they expanded their camp into the Rose Kennedy Greenway Park. A Twitter war and a showdown between the Boston Police Department and Occupy Boston began at nightfall. The police explained that they were there to “curtail additional damage to newly developed green space” because, “the Greenway Conservancy recently invested over $150,000 in new plantings for all to enjoy.” Occupy Boston’s twitter feed encouraged their followers to adhere to their protocol of non-violent resistance. As they indiscriminately arrested medics and legal observers, beat Vietnam War veterans, and arrested hundreds of peaceful protestors, they destroyed and discarded their personal property.
It’s no secret that the state has much to gain in discrediting and destroying popular social movements, particularly now that our government is colonized by corporations. In a smooth, but transparent, PR move, the city’s Commissioner Ed Davis told the Boston Herald that “a new group, the anarchists, wanted to take control.”
Nothing could be further from the truth. Since its recent birth, the Occupy movement has successfully aimed to be completely inclusive and horizontal. That’s beginning to the reshape social norms and mores, and it scares those with power who believe they are champions of the common good. As the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek eloquently put in his address to the General Assembly of New York, “They will tell you that you are dreaming, but the true dreamers are those who think that things can go on indefinitely the way they are, just with some cosmetic changes. We are not the dreamers, we are awakening from a dream which is turning into a nightmare.”
People everywhere are waking up from this dream, feeling empowered. The powers-that-be must realize that we’re on a deadline, that our options have been exhausted, and that we’re here to stay. Yes, it’s a sad day when the Boston police department beats up our veterans, but our tenacity is already showing and hundreds of people have donated to bail out the people who were arrested.
I can’t reiterate enough that the ideas behind the occupations can’t fit in a sound bite. I encourage you to engage in imagining a better world. If you find yourself scared by these PR tactics by the police and the government, remember that history will absolve us. The whole world is watching.
Andrea Gordillo is a member of Occupy Boston, a student at Northeastern University, and an intern at the Boston office of the Institute for Policy Studies. She was researcher on the recent IPS report, America Loses: Corporations That Take “Tax Holidays” Slash Jobs.