As Occupy Boston protesters marched through the city streets last night, feelings of celebration were matched by a foreboding tension. Occupy Boston’s encampment at Dewey Square, which celebrated its second month of existence Wednesday, may be evicted Thursday night, pending a judge’s decision.
“I’m so proud to be here with all of you,” a woman protester said as the approximately 250 marchers sat in the middle of Downtown Crossing, echoing her words. “Let’s show them that we’re not going anywhere.”
Wednesday’s protesters marched through Boston’s streets for about an hour and a half, chanting phrases such as, “We are unstoppable, another world is possible,” and “Two months is awesome, Occupy Boston,” and briefly blocking traffic at different points. The protesters joyously sang “Happy Birthday, Occupy Boston,” but marched behind a banner that read, “You can’t evict an idea,” alluding to the fact that their encampment may be evicted.
At 8:30 a.m. on Thursday morning, a judge will decide on a 200-page court document filed by the City of Boston which states the protesters do not have the right to continue living on public property, according to the Associated Press.
After Wednesday’s raids of Occupy Philadelphia and Occupy Los Angeles which led to 200 arrests and 300 arrests respectively, Dewey Square stands as one of the last prominent Occupy camps in a major city. However, many Occupy Boston protesters said they feel the absence of an encampment will not lead to the movement’s termination, rather to a new direction for the occupiers.
“The camp is not the occupation,” said Mark Rizzo, a junior political communication major, as he watched the march end. “The camp is a nice centerpiece for the occupation; it’s a nice focal point. But if the camp is taken away, we will set up in people’s back yards, we will set up illegal occupations in unused buildings. At this point, we have all exchanged contact information and we have networks set up. Just removing the central location will not be enough to get rid of the movement.”
Occupy Boston has served as a hub for the concerned students of Boston since its start. Longtime student Occupy supporters such as Rizzo and Matt Durham, the treasurer of Emerson Peace and Social Justice, who have been at Dewey Square since the movement’s inception, contend that students should continue to be concerned and active about issues such as high tuition costs and university transparency, even if there is no longer a student tent to occupy.
“This is directly affecting us,” said Durham, a writing, literature and publishing major. “Student debt just passed credit card debt. Our generation is going to owe trillions of dollars to these banks. No matter what you think about the Occupy movement, they do have a lot of power that needs to at least be discussed.”
If Thursday’s eviction does occur, it would come at an unfortunate time for Occupy Boston’s students, who have been gaining momentum. Northeastern students set up tents and camped out on Northeastern’s quad for 50 hours from Nov. 13 to Nov. 16. The rally followed a similar Harvard occupation on Nov. 10.
While Boston’s students have become more aggressive in their tactics, the area’s movements are small in comparison to the recent occupations of UC Berkeley and UC Davis, who received national attention after videos surfaced of police officers pepper spraying peaceful UC Davis students on their campus and battering students at UC Berkeley.
If Dewey Square is evicted tomorrow, Rizzo said that he and his fellow students will not go quietly.
“We have a gift in that a lot of us can afford to get arrested for the sake of the movement,” he said. “We have a vigor and a passion that the movement needs.”