It's official: they'll take everything, including the kitchen sink.
You may have heard about the kerfuffle at Dewey Square last night. Google "Occupy Boston sink" and you'll see that the story has gone a bit viral. Yes, they took the kitchen sink.
Here is my account of what all the fuss was about. I arrived at the tail end of the action, so much of what I report is what I heard from others and saw on video people had on their cameras/phones.
Yesterday was the day of our injunction hearing. During the hearing, it became clear that the city's main case against the ongoing encampment was an argument that the site has safety and sanitation issues.
What they didn't say, of course, is how they've thwarted every attempt we've made to bring in the things needed to ensure safety and sanitation. They had a Fire Marshall state that the nylon tents and tarps are a fire hazard. They didn't have him say that the police have randomly labeled any other kind of tent as "contraband" and are confiscating less hazardous, winterized tents we are trying to erect.
So, tents are okay. Yes, go ahead and sleep here, but we deny you a tent that could actually protect you from the elements and from fire hazard. And then we're going to evict you because you don't have a tent which will protect you from the elements and fire hazard.
Some of us have been a little sneaky. We women got our winterized tent in and erected. We also got one in for the kitchen. We have our ways and with the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) in place, the City is not allowed to come in and take them down. Still, we should have to play these games. Almost every single "concern" that the City claims to have against the encampment has a simply, impermanent solution which is blocked from execution by them.
Having made their absurd case in court yesterday, we decided to make the point. The City had gone on about sanitation in our kitchen area. We haul in bottled water and wash dishes in plastic tubs in a mulit-stage setup which includes bleach dips. Still, there were complaints that we didn't have a sink. So, we had one delivered. A rather large - so large that they couldn't close the back of the paddy wagon when they arrested the sink - multi-section, industrial sink.
It was delivered during the General Assembly, so there were lots of people around. When a few policemen came over and stated that the sink was "contraband" and they were going to remove it, about 60 or 70 people surround the sink, and the police officers, and sat down.
You know how dangerous those sitters are. They even violently linked arms. Then they went into full escalation by talking to the police! They asked questions! "What law are we breaking?" "Why are you taking the sink?"
"Danger! Danger, Will Robinson!" The alarm was sounded and backups were called in. Within minutes - hey, who knew the police could respond so quickly? Maybe it happened so quickly that we missed them swarming the criminal bankers - Menino's army arrived. The streets surrounding Dewey were filled with law enforcement.
It's unclear to me, as yet, whether the original police officers picked up the very heavy, metal sink and walked over the protesters with it before or after the enforcements arrived. I think it must have been after because, they had to have a paddy wagon to load it into. The poor forlorn sink was thoughtlessly tossed in on it's kiester.
The Occupy Boston community could not understand why their beloved sink was being so vilified. In solidarity - some may say foolishness - they got up from their menacing seated positions, deescalated their violently locked arms and filled the street to block the paddy wagon from driving off.
Chaos ensued. As it was chaos, not all aspects of what unfolded here are clearly understood. We do know that police dispersed the roadblock with some force and people were shoved to the ground. There were several injuries, including one woman who had to be taken by ambulance to the hospital. There were, apparently, also confrontations between members of Occupy Boston. I gather this was over differing opinions about how far to go with resisting the sink's arrest. We have some internal healing and growing to do.
In the end, all this kerfuffle was for nothing. I was standing next to one of our police liaisons as she spoke with a Superintendent. There was no legal justification for taking the sink. It's not as though it was to be plumbed for permanent installation. And there is this small thing that the police are supposed to be abiding by right now; a judge's order; I think they call it a "TRO". We were given the name and number of a person to call for authorization to have the sink returned. I haven't heard, yet, but it's possible that as I write this the heroic sink is onsite doing it's duty.
Many of us would like to thank the police for attempting to protect us from dish duty. It is, indeed an onerous task. We appreciate their compassion for us, however misguided. Sink or no, the dishes must be done. We must soldier on with these mundane tasks, even as we continue to do the more exotic work of peacefully assembling and redressing our grievances to our government. We can fully understand their anxiety over the logistical tension. We all want our system to be fixed now. We all want to end the fears over our futures. We all want to live in a principles, just and sustainable society. We know that the police officers are as concerned about these things as we are.
Still, officers, we all have to get the dishes done. We promise, we won't forget the big issues. We'll talk about them together as we're washing, rinsing and drying. Scout's honor.
11:16 AM PT: For some fun entertainment follow the hashtag #OccupySink on Twitter.
11:23 AM PT: Here you can see Occupy Boston use the people's mic to ask the officer what legal reason they have for removing the sink. They make a quiet space for the police to respond:
11:49 AM PT: Per abucci:
the sink's twitter account is....
and he pointed us to this video of the "sink-bearing paddy wagon speeding away":
12:05 PM PT: As thought it weren't absurd enough, this via Keori:
Taking the issue a step further, the sink design (greywater collection) was, in fact, submitted to the Department of Public Health for approval, which we got! The government's own authority on public sanitation approved the sink! And still, Menino's trained poodles confiscated it.