After the decimation of Dewey, the movement finds new allies
FRESH START The first post-raid general assembly — held Saturday on Boston Common — focused more on outreach than the intellectual masturbation so common at past GAs.
Forget the plowed debris field left at Dewey Square. That space is no longer synonymous with Occupy Boston — the movement is pushing forward. On Saturday evening — just hours after a 5 am police raid cleared Dewey's tent city — Occupiers braved the cold to regroup at the Boston Common bandstand. On Sunday, they met there again to get down to business, planning a new strategy: Occupy Everywhere.
Already, neighborhood Occupy outposts are popping up from Allston to the suburbs. In Boston this week, more than a dozen well-attended working groups met each day. Without the burden of maintaining the campsite, the focus has been on action, and lots of it.
"Now a lot of stuff is behind us — stuff like planning for police raids," says Robin Jacks, an Occupier who has been chronicling the movement via Twitter since late September. "I'm not sad," she adds. "It was just like closing a door and opening a new one. Every working group is doing direct actions now. I've been to a million meetings so far, and I have about a million more to go to in the next few days."
There is still some unfinished business from Dewey — whatever else Occupy was, it was a home to people who now need new accommodations — but the passion and resolve of Occupiers is intact. The initial post-raid general assembly on the Common showed little of the academic grandstanding of past GAs, and talk of outreach and inclusion wasn't just intellectual masturbation. On Sunday, speakers announced key partnerships with critical community groups, from labor organizations like the Service Employees International Union, to the Jamaica Plain–based grassroots advocacy group City Life. According to Jacks: "As a group we've wanted to do this kind of outreach, but all the shit that came with Dewey was a distraction."
Some speakers expressed concern about "moving too fast from decompression to action." But the prevalent sentiment came from Marisa Egerstrom, a Harvard PhD candidate who's known by Occupiers as the Protest Chaplain.
In a tweet that was echoed widely, Egerstrom declared, "First we were a camp. And we needed that. That experience taught us how to become a movement."
The next challenge for Occupy Boston is to see if it can play well with others. At a Monday working-group meeting held at the SEIU offices downtown, Occupiers discussed the campaign with City Life. The tandem effort will officially begin this Friday, when Occupiers plan to join the organization's seasoned picketers in moving a woman and her family back into their Dorchester home. On Saturday, they'll proceed — together — with more "re-occupations," as well as other actions in solidarity with the Occupy Our Homes initiative, which has prompted similar collaborations nationwide. On Monday, Occupy and City Life will double-team Government Center to protest cuts to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
: News Features
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