Milton Student Attends Occupy Boston
by The Milton Measure on Friday, October 14th, 2011
The anti-corporate American movement sweeping the country reached Boston on September 27th. Occupy Boston’s numbers have dramatically increased over the last two weeks with students from local colleges galvanizing supporters, swelling Occupy Boston’s ranks to more than one thousand.Occupy Boston takes its inspiration from Occupy Wall Street, which began on September 17th. A resistance movement without an identifiable leader, Occupy Boston protests against the economic disparity between rich and poor in America. It is a movement dedicated to fighting for the “99%”, the estimated 99% of Americans impacted by the recession, and fighting against the 1% of wealthy Americans who control decision making and financial resources, typified by Wall Street businessmen. The movement gives voice to dissatisfaction with increased costs of education, health care, and housing; and rising unemployment. Movement members feel disenfranchised and alienated from financial decisions that directly affect them.
Although some critique the movement for its amorphous identity and ill-defined goals, others praise the movement’s political activism.
Occupy Boston members have set up tents in Boston’s Financial District and engage in peaceful marches. Local college students from Boston University, Northeastern, Tufts, Brandeis, Harvard, MIT, UMass Boston, Berklee, Emerson, Simmons, and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts have joined the protesters, demonstrating on Atlantic Avenue, at the State House, and in Dewey Square among other locations.
College students have long been criticized either for political apathy or for quiet activism–the quiet clicking of a button on an online Facebook page instead of publicly expressing their opinions. Yet today, these students are actively participating in the democratic process, ensuring that their voices are heard, and demanding dialogue about the economic hardships facing the vast majority of Americans.
Over Columbus Day weekend, Kimberly Zayhowski (I) was fortunate enough to participate in these revolutionary actions.
Last Friday, Kim went home for the weekend. Wanting to spend time with Kim, Justine, Kim’s older sister and a Brandies student, instructed Kim to meet her at South Station.
Once Kim arrived at South Station, however, her sister told her to go to Faneuil Hall and then to Haymarket Square. Kim shares, “About a mile into this wild goose hunt she decided to tell me she was in a march with Occupy Boston, and she didn’t think I’d meet up with her if I had known.”
Once she met up with her sister, Kim marched along with approximately 100 people. Kim says she heard demonstrators chanting: “we are the 99 percent”, “out of the sidewalks and into the streets” and “fight for jobs and education, not for war and occupation.” Participating in this protest, Kim witnessed the passion first hand.
She read many signs displaying the words “We got 99 problems but the rich got none” and “universal health care is a right! Unquenchable greed is not!”
Kim described the demonstration as a “really friendly environment.” With free food and music, Occupy Boston has taken on more of a carnival-like atmosphere. The Occupy movement has used social networking sites and other inviting, welcoming, and lively means to gain support.
While the protests of past generations have been filled with violence and strict police regulation, Kim found Occupy Boston’s protests to be largely peaceful. Kim divulges that the peaceful nature of the protests surprised her the most. She shares, “The police went with us, not telling us to stop, but rather, silently guiding us so that we wouldn’t get into trouble. They weren’t using any force.”
All this changed early Tuesday morning when police officers swarmed the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway and arrested 141 protesters, according to WBUR news. Police attempted to stop demonstrators from expanding their original tent site in Dewey Square to a second site along the Greenway in order to protect recently planted shrubs.
Protesters interviewed by WBUR emphasized the brutality of the policemen as they forcibly pushed, punched, shoved, and dragged protesters resisting arrest.
With recent allegations of harsh police conduct, Occupy Boston has gained more media exposure and the movement has strengthened. In the aftermath of the arrests, the tent city has grown and financial contributions to cover bail costs stream in.
The movement is hopeful. While many supporters of Occupy Boston hope that these protests will bring about positive change for economically strapped Americans, others like Kim, are simply “excited to be part of a cause and a protest.”
After years of complacency, the students of America are finally taking a stand.
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