Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Spring Fund Drive: Keep CounterPunch Afloat
CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Hitting the Streets of Boston

The $64 trillion dollar question, “When will Americans hit the streets like people in other countries?” has been answered.  Over the last several days, occupations have spread from Wall St., and erupted in more than 50 cities across America.  The “99 percent” are rising to voice their grievances against an economic and political system which has disenfranchised them for too long.  We share painful stories and common concerns, and want profound changes to how this country is governed—and for whom it is governed. (1)

I drove from New Hampshire Friday afternoon and arrived in Beantown to kickoff Occupy Boston. Dewey Square, the site of the occupation in the heart of the financial district, was easy to find thanks to police and media helicopters hovering overhead.  But rush hour traffic and Boston’s circuitous one-way streets channeled me far from the site, to an expensive garage.

I asked a well-dressed young man exiting work for directions to the park.  He didn’t know the location, and I didn’t tell him why I was going (fearing he may intentionally misdirect me). Unfortunately, my cover was blown when ‘Brian’ asked a coworker for the whereabouts. Brian pointed me in the direction of South Station and offered his opinion, “I work for an investment bank.  I am a capitalist…but I don’t agree with American-style capitalism.”  Without pause, he refined his thoughts, “I am a socialist.” I was running late, so I simply nodded.  He repeated this heresy, and wished me luck.

Earlier Friday, a huge demonstration organized by ‘Right the City’ protested in front of Bank of America, demanding a moratorium on foreclosures and continued their march to Dewey Square. (2)  Most of protestors went home, but some stayed to help launch Occupy Boston.  I met the acquaintance of three young men from Stoneham, one of whom just lost his job as an eyeglass technician.  Luckily his friend, a marine biologist with $60,000 in student debt, just landed a job.  “We switched places” they realized, and gave each other a high five.  Gatherers mostly engaged in small groups without direction, waiting for something to happen.

The confusion subsided and we got down to business. The group began to communicate using the famed ‘people’s microphone’.  When someone calls for a ‘mic check’, the whole group repeats their message in short sentences. (3)  We organized into seven separate teams: tactical, direct action, legal aid, food & medical, media, local outreach, and creative artists.  Soon, Dewey Square was a rain-soaked and muddy experiment in direct democracy.

Our strength swelled to over 1,000 people. (4) Ages ranged from 7 to 77, men and women, middle class and homeless, gay and straight, bisexual and transgender, anti-war activists and Marine Corps veterans, African Americans and immigrants, Arab and Jewish, Asians and Latinos, unemployed and overworked, working class and Ivy-League educated. We are committed to an innovative, democratic process which is a testament of our vision. The late Howard Zinn believed that the hallmark of a successful social movement is its ability to cultivate both democratic means and democratic objectives.  One reinforces the other.

This is a leaderless movement without a central ideology.  We are bound only by the understanding that we are part of the 99% of Americans getting shafted by the top 1%.

After we built our encampment and ate a hot meal, roughly 400 occupants hit the streets at 11:00 PM and declared our galvanizing message: “We are the 99 percent!  We are the 99 percent!  You are the 99 percent!”  Countless cars honked in support, loaded Bostonians and passers-by cheered (and a couple jeers), some joined the march, while others grabbed smartphones and cameras to record the rebirth of America in the city that started it all more than 200 years ago. The 99% movement has been ignored and derided in the mainstream press—yet the overwhelming response from the people of Boston is revitalizing.  If you join the movement, you will not be stigmatized.  On the contrary, your dedication will be praised, honored, and thanked by fellow citizens.  One by one, we will break the silence which has devoured this country.

Owing to the gravitational pull of truth-telling, the march returned to camp larger than when it departed.  Suddenly, Dewey Park emptied as hundreds of us charged across State St. towards the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston (5) We chanted “We are the 99%, You are the 99%” (pointing to the phalanx of police officers lining the front of the building) and “F*** the Fed!”  The roar echoed from the thick glass walls and stone ground.  It was tense, but officers remained disciplined while demonstrators played music, sang, and danced.

Unlike other cities like New York and San Francisco, the BPD has made no attempt to corral us, has not tried to block or channel our marches, has not tried to disperse us, and has entered the encampment once due to a medical emergency.  So far, hats off to the BPD.  If they respect our right to protest, it makes it easier for us to protect their right to collectively bargain.

By 1:00 AM, it was pouring rain and I told my new friend Murph that I would drive him home to Watertown in exchange for his help finding my vehicle.  I returned to New Hampshire, caught five hours of sleep, filled my car with supplies, and headed back to the occupation.

So far, the media has largely ignored the 99 percent movement. A nationwide uprising focused on addressing extreme economic and political inequality is just not newsworthy.  Journalists claim that we lack coherence, and ask in a quixotic tone, “Why are they protesting?”  Have they not read their own articles or watched their own television reports. Each one of us knows why we are here, and we want to listen to everyone’s ideas.  We are a multitude—and we are occupying Boston for a multitude of reasons. (6)

The more relevant question is: Will you join us and contribute to the awakening? (7)

Mark Provost is an economic journalist and activist focused on income and wealth inequality.  He lives in Manchester, NH. He can be reached at gregsplacenh@gmail.com

Sources

1. We are the 99 Percent; Occupy Together: http://wearethe99percent.tumblr.com/; http://www.occupytogether.org/

2.  Bank of America protest: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/01/bank-of-america-protests_n_990100.html

3.  People’s Microphone at the General Assembly: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Su5mXhf1Qpc

4. 1,000 people: http://occupybos.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/6199400069_6d6267707c_b.jpg

5. Charging the Boston Federal Reserve Bank: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0fV0YjQQzYk

6.  Why Do You Occupy?: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NK7I1uC-ZsA

7.  Occupy Boston; Occupy Together: http://occupyboston.com/; http://www.occupytogether.org/

 

More articles by:
May 22, 2018
Stanley L. Cohen
Broken Dreams and Lost Lives: Israel, Gaza and the Hamas Card
Kathy Kelly
Scourging Yemen
Andrew Levine
November’s “Revolution” Will Not Be Televised
Ted Rall
#MeToo is a Cultural Workaround to a Legal Failure
Gary Leupp
Question for Discussion: Is Russia an Adversary Nation?
Binoy Kampmark
Unsettling the Summits: John Bolton’s Libya Solution
Doug Johnson
As Andrea Horwath Surges, Undecided Voters Threaten to Upend Doug Ford’s Hopes in Canada’s Most Populated Province
Kenneth Surin
Malaysia’s Surprising Election Results
Dana Cook
Canada’s ‘Superwoman’: Margot Kidder
Dean Baker
The Trade Deficit With China: Up Sharply, for Those Who Care
John Feffer
Playing Trump for Peace How the Korean Peninsula Could Become a Bright Spot in a World Gone Mad
Peter Gelderloos
Decades in Prison for Protesting Trump?
Thomas Knapp
Yes, Virginia, There is a Deep State
Andrew Stewart
What the Providence Teachers’ Union Needs for a Win
Jimmy Centeno
Mexico’s First Presidential Debate: All against One
May 21, 2018
Ron Jacobs
Gina Haspell: She’s Certainly Qualified for the Job
Uri Avnery
The Day of Shame
Amitai Ben-Abba
Israel’s New Ideology of Genocide
Patrick Cockburn
Israel is at the Height of Its Power, But the Palestinians are Still There
Frank Stricker
Can We Finally Stop Worrying About Unemployment?
Binoy Kampmark
Royal Wedding Madness
Roy Morrison
Middle East War Clouds Gather
Edward Curtin
Gina Haspel and Pinocchio From Rome
Juana Carrasco Martin
The United States is a Country Addicted to Violence
Dean Baker
Wealth Inequality: It’s Not Clear What It Means
Robert Dodge
At the Brink of Nuclear War, Who Will Lead?
Vern Loomis
If I’m Lying, I’m Dying
Valerie Reynoso
How LBJ initiated the Military Coup in the Dominican Republic
Weekend Edition
May 18, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Donald, Vlad, and Bibi
Robert Fisk
How Long Will We Pretend Palestinians Aren’t People?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Wild at Heart: Keeping Up With Margie Kidder
Roger Harris
Venezuela on the Eve of Presidential Elections: The US Empire Isn’t Sitting by Idly
Michael Slager
Criminalizing Victims: the Fate of Honduran Refugees 
John Laforge
Don’t Call It an Explosion: Gaseous Ignition Events with Radioactive Waste
Carlo Filice
The First “Fake News” Story (or, What the Serpent Would Have Said)
Dave Lindorff
Israel Crosses a Line as IDF Snipers Murder Unarmed Protesters in the Ghetto of Gaza
Gary Leupp
The McCain Cult
Robert Fantina
What’s Wrong With the United States?
Jill Richardson
The Lesson I Learned Growing Up Jewish
David Orenstein
A Call to Secular Humanist Resistance
W. T. Whitney
The U.S. Role in Removing a Revolutionary and in Restoring War to Colombia
Rev. William Alberts
The Danger of Praying Truth to Power
Alan Macleod
A Primer on the Venezuelan Elections
John W. Whitehead
The Age of Petty Tyrannies
Franklin Lamb
Have Recent Events Sounded the Death Knell for Iran’s Regional Project?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail