Occupy Boston Turning Heads; An Inside Look at the Protest’s Particpants

Posted by Noelle Swan

Courtesy of occupyboston.com

A middle-aged woman passes hummus, beans, and gefilte fish to a young woman with stretched ear lobes. “This is how the middle class participates,” said Lisa Goldstein of Quincy. “Forty-seven-year-old accountants that have bad backs don’t sleep on the ground in the rain. They sleep at home in their beds under roofs with mortgages.”

While protesters highlighting the nation’s economic woes camped out in Zuccotti Park near Wall Street in New York took two weeks and several YouTube videos of overly aggressive police to catch the media’s attention, the local offshoot in Boston has been turning heads in its first week.

Media portrayal of the protesters has focused on college students and recent graduates, said Goldstein. “It’s an easy photo op to focus on the youth with dreadlocks.” There are many more supporters with jobs and mortgages that can’t come to rallies, she added.

On Wednesday, occupiers anticipated that droves of students would walk out of their classes and join the protest. A few dozen did, but it hardly lived up to the expected turnout. While most students opted to stay in class, three buses full of nurses arrived from the Massachusetts Nurse Association carrying hundreds of nurses ready to join the protest.

Lieran Biton, an environmental analyst, lives in Somerville and works nearby. He wandered over on Wednesday during a late lunch break and found protesters engaged in a sit-in in the middle of Atlantic Avenue. “I found their decision making to be very inclusive. Honestly, it made me want to be a part of it.”

Though just an observer at Occupy Boston, Biton has participated in social demonstrations in the past, but he said he saw something different in Dewey Square. “They’re very committed to democracy. That’s something I haven’t seen in large protest movements. I’ve never seen anything where there doesn’t appear to be a single leader or a single group of leaders, instead people would just sort of rise and speak.”

Lisa Dachinger of River Valley Farm in Lenox lives “far away from any of this,” but she came to Dewey Square, as she does every Thursday, to sell lamb at the farmer’s market. “I support parts of their viewpoint,” she said of the protesters. “It think it would be hard for anybody not to right now.”

Still, the protesters have put off some observers.

While most of the vendors at the Dewey Square Farmer’s Market said they the protest has not much affected business, Mark Flynn of MacArthur Farms in Holliston said the thought commuters were “slightly intimidated.” He reported seeing some business people stopping when they get to the square and opting to go another way when they see the tents.

Jon Levin, a lawyer who passes Occupy Boston every day during his commute from Newton to the financial district, said he tries his best to ignore the protesters, calling them “incredibly destructive.”

“It’s not just 1 percent that’s in Wall Street, it’s everyone,” said Levin. He pointed to the California Public Employee’s Retirement Fund as an example. “It’s one of the biggest wealth funds in the United States, and it’s all invested in Wall Street. This is retirement for teachers and public employees, everything from the department of public works to the governor, state senators, you name it. So the idea that Wall Street only benefits these select few, that’s just not true.”

“I would bet my bottom dollar that if pressed, if asked to work through the logical outcomes of what the protests are asking for, very, very few people would support it,” added Levin.

However, the protesters have not yet asked for anything specific.

Levin and others have focused on a list of demands proposed by one Wall Street protester and posted online on September 25. Representatives of the protests have repeatedly denied that these demands represent the views of the movement as a whole. In Boston, protesters have been advised by organizers to preface any statement to the press with a disclaimer that any statement only reflects the views of the speaker and not the movement as a whole.

“Everyone keeps asking for demands,” said Goldstein as she handed a jar of gefilte fish to a volunteer staffing the Occupy Boston food tent, “That’s just so short-sighted. The point is dialogue!”

Related posts:

  1. Occupy Boston Protest Begins to Solidify into an Organized Movement
  2. Wall Street Protests Come to Boston Common
  3. Occupy Wall Street releases “Declaration of the Occupation of New York City”
  4. Still No Power Because Of Irene? Check Out Where You Can Go In The Boston Area To Snag Some Free Wi-Fi
  5. Four Square League brings bounce to Boston

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Posted by Noelle Swan on Oct 7 2011. Filed under Featured - For home page featured article, General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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