STORM BREWING? As word spread through Occupy Boston that Occupy Wall Street's Zuccotti Park camp had been disassembled by New York police, fears arose that Dewey Square might be next.
As New York City police scrubbed Occupy Wall Street clean of its inhabitants and their belongings Tuesday morning, emotions ran high back in Boston. Dewey Square squatters watched the live stream from Zuccotti Park on laptops. When word hit the Web that the New York encampment was under attack, people shouted across Dewey that Boston was next.
"It really didn't help the anxiety level around here," said John Ford, an Occupy Boston librarian and ubiquitous camp presence. "Everyone was mic-checking impending doom."
Hub activists were already nervous about their own fate — for days, the Boston Police Department had tried to block attempts to prepare the camp for winter, keeping heavy-duty tents out of the square and impeding the will of occupiers who plan to crash through ski season.
First, this past Sunday, a BPD officer told the driver of a visiting Wikileaks donation truck — on camera — that police searched the truck "because we were afraid that you might have contraband that we don't want in the camp — winter tents and insulation materials." Asked where that order came from, the officer stated, "My bosses."
Second, reps from the Occupy Boston women's caucus were stopped from bringing in a new weatherproof canopy. They were upset that their attempt to build a safe space for female occupiers had been thwarted. But the implication was more sinister. A BPD spokesperson confirmed to the Phoenix: "We are not allowing for anything that requires building materials."
It's clear that BPD doesn't expect the encampment to last the winter — and they're not eager to make it any easier for them. This is a national trend, as Boston and New York aren't the only cities that would be thrilled to see the last of the occupiers. Hours after the Zuccotti raid, a video clip surfaced of Oakland Mayor Jean Quan — a notorious symbol of Occupy intolerance — telling the BBC that she had been conferencing with 18 other cities about how to handle their Occupy "situation."
Many protesters at Occupy Wall Street have long speculated that Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his cronies want to wipe out Occupy before the cold comes — or at least make occupiers vulnerable to foul weather. This was apparent to them from the early days of the movement, when police removed tents and tarps on sight. In fact, Zuccotti only became a tent city after October 17, when cops threatening to dismantle the sheltered medical area stood down to the Rev. Jesse Jackson. Within hours, tents were planted throughout the park, but many still thought that it was only a matter of time before cops leveled the encampment.
That's why Zuccotti organizers took advantage of a lull this past weekend to prep for the future. Members of the "Town Planning" working group told the Phoenix that their first agenda item was winterization — figuring ways to replace store-bought tents with more resilient military-grade numbers. On top of that, they were also hatching major actions for a two-month anniversary bash today (November 17). Operatives would not disclose exactly what sort of peaceful pandemonium might transpire — other than the publicized promise to "shut down Wall Street" — but all agreed that Thursday would bring the biggest demonstrations yet, a spectacle sure to rally new support and re-energize participants.