SNOWWING POLITICS

Constitutional Rights in Question at Occupy Boston

In Occupy Protests on October 14, 2011 at 12:29 pm

DEVELOPING: The Occupy Wall Street movement is now more than just a small rally in Manhattan. In recent weeks, almost every major city has hosted some sort of “occupy” protest. I have not paid much attention, neither do I think I will ever be politically aligned with it, but the recent protest in Boston piqued my interested due to actions taken by the Boston Police Department. I do not know enough details to attribute blame to either side; therefore I will spare my own commentary in favor of those who participated in Monday’s (10/10/2011) mass arrest of Occupy Boston protesters. Any contributions will be appreciated through my email: dmitriy_shapiro@hotmail.com (Subject line: Occupy Boston)

Yet to my surprise, I recently found that among the 141 or so arrests made by BPD last Monday, or early Tuesday, was a friend of mine from college, Sam Dreyfus, who sympathizes and often organizes such causes. I rarely agree with Sam politically, but know, by having had long and important debates with him, his perspective is worth examining and could be considered to be at the highest level intellectually.

Here is part of my conversation with him:

Sent through Text message:

Me: … I heard a rumor that you got arrested at Occupy Boston. True or not?

Sam Dreyfus: True! The action was a great success. I was one of 130ish people who decided to engage in civil disobedience. There was also a journalist (who ended up in the same wagon and jail as me) who did not decide to engage in civil disobedience but was performing the legally protected act of recording the event when he was thrown to the ground, stripped of his microphone, and arrested. Also, at least one paramedic, also not breaking the law, was arrested while tending to an injured demonstrator.

Sam Dreyfus’ story (to the best of my knowledge):

Sam Dreyfus, of Brookline, had been attending the protest on and off with his girlfriend who is an active member of the movement also. Monday night’s protest grew larger than the original protest space. Occupy Boston held a collective meeting and the consensus decided to expand the camp to an adjacent area of the Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy.** The Boston Police Department issued a warning that anyone remaining past 12am would be arrested. The BPD also issued an order prohibiting journalists from the area. Sam and a number of other protesters chose not to comply and were arrested, put into police vans, and sent to different jails in the Boston area. If the numbers of an article at Think Progress can be believed, 141 protestors were arrested. Sam was taken to the Hyde Park Jail, were unlike in other jails, he was treated well. The next morning, they were brought to a downtown courthouse to be processed and where given the option to reduce their arrest to a civil infraction. 8 protesters chose to be arraigned but the rest opted for the civil infraction.

MORE UPDATES WILL BE ADDED AS WILL BECOME CLEAR

The article at Think Progress, quotes Boston Mayor Thomas Menino as saying that those arrested where foreign interlopers, not part of the movement. Whether he is lying or just ignorant is beyond me, but something doesn’t feel right about the incident.

* Correction (9:18pm): “Sam Dreyfus, of Brookline, had been attending the protest on and off with his girlfriend who is an active member of the movement also.” — Sam and his girlfriend have not been active in the movement aside from that day.

** Correction (9:22pm): “Occupy Boston held a collective meeting and the consensus decided to expand the camp to an adjacent area of the Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy.” — Sam: “People had spontaneously started camping there after that afternoon’s march, without a decision from the General Assembly. The decision made that night was to stay in the ne spot despite the BPD’s threat to clear it at midnight.

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