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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Downtown ‘Occupy’ protests escalate

Published: October 21, 2011
Section: Featured

When protesters from Occupy Boston, an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement demanding corporate responsibility and attention to income inequality, began to camp out at Dewey Square in Boston’s downtown financial district, several rows of tents and tarp huts, neatly dotted the square. As time has passed, the camp at Dewey Square expanded and now houses hundreds of protesters, hailing from around the world.

Due to its central location in the heart of Boston’s financial district, Occupy Boston demands attention. Resolutions are frequently being passed at general assembly meetings and Boston is taking notice. Yet despite Occupy Boston’s growing organization, there are many grievances protesters wish to address at once and it is proving difficult to form a projected list of goals and principles.

A statue of Mohandas Gandhi has been erected at the entrance of Dewey Square, welcoming visitors and protesters alike. An intricate set of plywood pathways is constantly being reinforced and expanded by camp builders to form pathways through the mud. Throughout the day, reporters from across the United States step gingerly among the tents, asking residents to comment on their experiences at the camp, while police officers patrol the grounds, speaking amicably with protesters and passersby.

There is a new logistics tent, a tent for students, a tent representing the queer and transgender community, a tent promoting the legalization of marijuana and a heavily trafficked medical tent. Omer Elad, a medical student from Israel, mans the medical tent. Elad, who is not an American citizen, still sees Occupy Boston as his responsibility to encourage discussion and to work toward change.

While the student presence has been felt at Dewey Square for weeks, colleges and universities around the state are increasing their show of support for Occupy Boston. Hailing from Bentley, Boston Architectural, Tufts, Boston University, Boston College, UMass Boston, Berklee College of Music, Bridgewater State University, Emmanuel College, Framingham State University, Harvard, Lasell, Lesley, MIT, Northeastern, Simmons, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Suffolk, UMass Lowell, Emerson, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, and Brandeis, students hold their own general assemblies and hold anti-war rallies.

Occupy Boston continues to attract growing support from local communities and from celebrities. In recent weeks endorsements have come from Indian philosopher Vandana Shiva, linguist and activist Noam Chomsky, Uruguayan journalist Eduardo Galeano, American political philosopher Michael Hardt and dozens of other international leaders.

Since the formation of Occupy Boston, other offshoot movements have formed around the country. Protesters at Occupy New Hampshire, which began Oct. 15, faced 15 citations and five arrests as occupiers refused to evacuate the site of the protest, Veterans Park in Manchester. All of the arrested protesters are free now and members of Occupy Boston are traveling to Manchester to show their solidarity with Occupy New Hampshire.