I wrote about my first day at Occupy Boston (and my first day at ANY protest) - it can be found here.
I've put off writing about the last couple of days of my experience at Occupy Boston out of fatigue and lack of time. For this I apologize, but trying to get work done during the day and attend the occupation (getting home at 2AM) has been a bit draining as one might imagine. However, I didn't want to put this diary off indefinitely as I feel it is really important to open peoples' eyes to life in Dewey Park.
The first day I attended the Occupation (Sat. – day 2 of activities), I signed up to participate in the medical working group - as I spent 6 years as an EMT in New Orleans and, while my certification has lapsed, I figured I could be of assistance. It is through these eyes/experiences that I write this diary. I should also note that I speak only for myself, not the movement as a whole.
As I noted in my previous diary, Saturday's occupation featured a flurry of highly visible (and well attended) direct action events. Sunday's events were essentially the opposite – I would say it was more of a "getting your house in order" type of day.
* Virtually all tents were moved, so as to accommodate a growing occupation. Also, inadequate tents (such as the medical tent) were replaced with ones more fitting their purpose.
* Working groups had meetings to organize – establish protocols, decide on staffing, inventory and organize supplies, etc.
* Discussions took place to educate new activists about legal issues surrounding such activities and how to diffuse a confrontation so that it doesn't escalate to violence (very valuable for people such as myself).
Monday brought more direct action activities - you can read about the morning activities here - in addition to some organizational activities.
So long story short, while Friday and Saturday (the first 2 days of the occupation) were typified by very visible activity. Sunday and Monday were largely typified by reacting to the growth of the occupation.
I don't know if I can do the complexity of this justice here, but I'll give it my best shot through a series of examples.
First, let's take a look at the physical presence of the occupation. I would like you to imagine that you've invited the whole city or town you live in to your house for a party - one which has a pre-determined start time, but is scheduled to go on indefinitely. You don't have a clue how many people will show up, when they'll show up, how long they'll stay, or what their needs will be. You just have to deal with whatever happens as it happens. The problem is that you've told everyone who shows up that they "own" the party just as much as you. Oh, and by the way, you don't have bathroom facilities, or beds, or even food. Given these circumstances, to say that I am amazed with how smoothly things have gone is an understatement of EPIC proportions. By and large, the biggest problems that occur on a regular basis are disputes over sleeping arrangements - especially in mixed, communal tents.
Another issue that has grown in importance as the occupation has grown is that of what to do with the homeless people who are attracted to Dewey Square by our presence. As the occupation strives to represent the 99%, their presence has made for a really difficult juxtaposition. On one hand, we don't want to turn anyone away. On the other hand, many are homeless for very specific reasons – mental health and substance abuse issues being two major ones. This has lead to the group attempting to walk a knife blade on this issue – allowing them access to our food and supplies, but only allowing the ones with true medical conditions allowed to stay in the camp. Such interactions and decisions have lead to a variety of notable situations. For instance, while the camp has a strict no drugs or alcohol policy, displaced people have stumbled on Dewey square already under the influence. Leading to this widely disseminated vomiting incident, a heroin overdose, and several medical emergencies. Additionally, the homeless we have allowed to stay in camp are disabled in various ways and so have a difficult time moving around. This has lead to them relieving themselves right next to their tent. As they have been positioned adjacent to the medical tent, this has caused a general urine odor emanating from the area and unsanitary conditions nearby (obviously not what one would consider ideal for any medical facility).
Finally, as many of you are aware, the occupation is taking great pains to contrast itself with the greater society in which it resides. This is typified by the overarching desires to be all-inclusive and to let each and every person have their say. High ideas, and exceptionally worthy things to strive for, it goes without saying. That said, can you imagine attempting to get a list of demands from a group of people that include Paulites, progressives, old-time hippies, communists, socialists, anarchists, middle age white suburbanites, unionists, people of color, LGBT, and a handful of tea party types? Now imagine that each and every one of these people can block any consensus decision...it makes for some interesting General Assemblies that drag on and on with arguments for and against both the mundane proposals that relate to our living space as well as reasons WHY we're there.
So, as Occupy Boston and Occupy Wall Street are dealing with all of these logistical issues (and more I haven't mentioned) people here and elsewhere are calling for these movements to release statements of purpose and specific demands. In my opinion, these people are missing the point. We are occupying Wall Street and Boston and elsewhere because we have lost our political voices in this country - just being there is an exercise in having our voices heard. For many of us, this is the first time in our lives that we feel as if ANYONE ANYWHERE is taking notice to our point of view. (There's few more exhilarating feelings than seeing a reporter quote you or your poster. To me it meant more than a lifetime of voting!)
Hope everyone appreciates my 2 cents and continues to provide for the occupation. For a list of needed supplies please visit 36ghosts' diary or the Occupy Boston donation list. Sorry, no online donation options as of yet, although we're working on that as I write this!
I apologize in advance for delays in responding to comments, as I am returning to the occupation in a few minutes.
9:59 PM PT: I apologize for the general lack of responses to peoples' comments, as I just returned from the occupation and was unable to access dKos while there.
I'm headed to bed now so that I can be up in 5 hours to make an early meeting. I'll address some of the comments that I believe deserve a more lengthy discussion tomorrow.