WASHINGTON -- Early this morning, the Boston Police Department arrested at least 100 Occupy Boston activists after they refused to abandon a second encampment at the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway. The police blamed "anarchist" elements among the demonstrators for drawing the response, and argued that the city did not want the newly renovated space trampled on by activists.
Before 11 p.m., The Huffington Post spoke with one Occupy Boston organizer who refused to give her name. The source explained that they had to create a second encampment after the first site at Dewey Square became too crowded. "This was our only option," she said. "This is an inclusive movement. To turn people away is not something that can be a part of the movement. It was a health and safety issue. We were way too packed. There was literally, absolutely no room."
The only space left was a gravelly area where they held general assembly meetings. Tents were set up one against another. She said that that every tent had an address; rows were numbered and lettered in an effort to use the space as efficiently as possible. "We want to respect the city," she said, adding that they have done their best to care for both it and the Greenway.
Joshua Eaton, 27, a member of Occupy Boston, told HuffPost that the group had something of an arrangement with the Greenway Conservancy, which manages the property. "We did have an informal agreement with the Greenway Conservancy, that as long as we didn't damage the flowers or the shrubbery, we were fine to be where we were," he told HuffPost. "It was a very informal agreement. But we did have one."
The Greenway website confirms that it did have an agreement with the protestors. "Occupy Boston organizers have been cooperative with the Conservancy and the Boston Police Department to date, and have agreed to avoid the planting beds and adhere to common sense rules." Calls to the Greenway seeking comment were not returned.
Eaton added that they had made sure to warn demonstrators away from the flower beds. They had already set up a fund a week ago to pay for any of the damaged grass. Eaton also argued that the encampment's expansion had not been as dramatic as it appeared -- they simply expanded from one spot on the Greenway to a spot across the street. They had only held that spot for a couple of hours before the police started making noise.
Indeed, the police response was massive and brutal.
After a supposed midnight deadline passed, police blocked surrounding streets, while others outfitted in riot gear idled a block out of sight and emergency medical technicians set up near the activists in case of injuries. Even they had riot helmets.
Officers handed out a flyer that gave reasons for the imminent arrests. It read: "The Boston Police Department has continued to respect your right to peacefully protest. The BPD is also obligated to maintain public order and safety. We ask for your ongoing cooperation."
Hours earlier, Occupy Boston posted a press release on its website addressing the standoff: "Today's threats by the Boston Police Department represent a sudden shift away from that dialogue. Since making camp on September 30, Occupy Boston has maintained that it will non-violently resist any attempt to end the protest before we have achieved the change we seek."
After midnight, activists linked arm-in-arm and waited. Marty Wrin, 43, an elementary school teacher who came down to support the protests, reported to HuffPost that volunteers were handing out water bottles. Down the street, 50 or so SWAT team members waited. "They're just reading the paper," Wrin said, "and chatting."
At about 1:30 a.m., the Boston police gave the activists a final warning. They had five minutes to leave, or else. "You will be locked up for trespassing and unlawful assembly," an officer shouted through a bullhorn. "This is our last notice before we move in and clear the park. All right? Now is the time to move."
Ten minutes later, the Occupy Boston live stream showed one block filled with more than a dozen police cars. The screen was a blur of flashing cop lights. Officers surrounded the encampment. They appeared to move first on the Veterans For Peace group. A source on the scene reported that the cops "beat Veterans for Peace to the ground. I watched them beat the veterans to the ground." Video has confirmed that the police took the vets to the ground.
She said: "I don't know what this is, but it should be all over news."
Another photo posted online showed an activist being carted off by the police. His face appears to have been bruised.
"I was just standing there -– peacefully -– with everyone else, just standing,” Bill Frank, a Jamaica Plain-based activist, said. "And they come up –- big, big people come up -– push you right in the face, and we all fell on top of each other."
Frank said he stayed still as he and about 15 other protestors were "pig-piled" onto one another, and managed to slip away by remaining still and inconspicuous.
"There were grabbing people by their handkerchiefs and shirts, tearing their shirts, grabbing people by their neck, choke-slamming people to the ground and stepping on people," he said.
In one incident, an officer was observed pushing a non-resistant female into some bushes near a ledge approximately 4 feet off the ground.
The Boston Globe reported that some 200 officers had descended on the activists, who had done little more than occupy a park and chant the by-now familiar slogans of the Occupy movement.
But the city's police brass and mayor saw it differently. Mayor Thomas M. Menino said in a phone interview with the Globe that he didn't want the activists to "tie up the city."
Early this morning, the Boston Police Department Commissioner Ed Davis told reporters that the Occupy group had behaved well but blamed "anarchists" for the arrests.
Davis said that members of Occupy Boston had complained to his officers. "They said the anarchists have taken over and there's really not much we can do."
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