I love politics, but I almost never discuss them on this blog because it’s just not the forum. It’s not the point of my blog to dissect American or Singaporean politics, but every so often something happens and I can’t stay silent.
I have mostly stayed silent on the whole “Occupy Wall Street” movement because
- A–technically we ARE the 1% or within a few percentage points of it, so not really my place to say much of anything beyond I’d happily pay more taxes
- B–Ravi works for GNB, and writes software for traders, so I’m guessing the protestors would call him/us wall street scum
- C–I’m a big believer in stated, coherent, reachable goals….Occupy Wall Street isn’t.
I’m honestly fairly conflicted about the whole movement. I believe that to affect change, you elect the right people (right now I’m supporting verbally and financially Elizabeth Warren’s campaign for the MA senate seat currently occupied by Scott Brown), and then you bug them. I contact my state and federal elected officials (and local when I lived there as needed) regularly. I feel that I did more by writing letters and phone banking when my state senator was trying to legalize breastfeeding in public in Massachusetts than attending a nurse-in would have done. I phone banked, petitioned, called, wrote letters and did THINGS to support the legalization of gay marriage in MA rather than just slapping a bumper sticker on my car. When Health Care Reform was up for debate, I wrote letters and called and spoke with my elected representatives, sharing Elanor’s story and how Health Care Reform would change her life. I chose to teach in public schools, and I chose to teach in Boston for a reason.
I believe in fixing the system, not dismantling it.
Which is not to say I don’t think that some of the points OWS makes aren’t valid. I would love to see tax reform. I would love to pay higher taxes, quite frankly. I believe strongly in the things my taxes pay for, like Early Intervention, Public Schools, roads, garbage collection, paying firemen, and all sorts of wonderful things like that. I do not believe that corporations are people, nor should they have the rights associated with them. Personally I don’t think religious institutions should be tax exempt. I think that the federal government has started caring more about remaining partisan than doing what’s right, and that the system needs fixing. I just don’t think that Occupy Wall Street is going to get any of that done with their approach.
So, no, if I were home, pregnant or not, I would not be out supporting Occupy Wall Street or Occupy Boston or any of the local occupy movements.
I believe strongly in the First Amendment. The one that gives people the Freedom of Speech AND the Freedom of Assembly.
Just because I don’t want to join OWS doesn’t mean I think they shouldn’t get out there and protest. It’s their right, and if if they truly believe in what they’re doing–it’s their responsibility as Americans to stand up and say their piece.
Which is why the events of the past few hours horrify me.
These are the facts as I understand them…
- The Occupy Boston movement had a central protest location Dewey Square.
- The movement grew and they took on a second location–the newly beautified Greenway across the street.
- The Boston Police Department told them that the first location was okay, but they needed to vacate the Greenway
- The protestors refused
- Around 1-2am local time, the police moved in
- The arrests were made in an often violent method, which can be seen in this video taken by a protestor
It’s hard to know the full story, because the media wasn’t there. There has since been this article on Boston.com, which claims, among other things that the protestors were on private property (untrue–the Greenway is a public park). Although there has been police action taken (or threatened) in Atlanta, St Louis, Seattle and Dallas as well as Boston (and others) CNN the tv channel and CNN’s website have nothing. Ditto all the major media outlets. To which I reply–are you KIDDING ME? Is Salon.com the only source with enough courage to talk openly about the arrest of the Veterans for Peace among other events tonight?
Most of my news came from Twitter, and although I know that there is bias present, the @Occupy_Boston feed and #occupyboston hashtag. Because NO ONE ELSE was giving me information.
What I read disturbed me and left me with many questions that the official channels (the boston.com article, the @Boston_Police twitter feed, @mayortommenino, @MassGovernor) left me with as they stay silent.
- Exactly why were the Boston PD moving in at 1-2am when people had been pitching tents there since 4pm?
- Were the arrests specifically timed to avoid media attention?
- Why had Mayor Menino (Boston’s Mayor) authorized this? I’ve been a long time supporter of his, and this is not the Mayor I believed in.
- If it’s true that State Troopers were also involved, why had Gov. Patrick agreed to it? I voted for him, and this is not the Governor I voted for.
- I find it suspicious that many of the major Occupy Movements saw police action tonight…except NYC, the most visible
- How is the Greenway private property (according to the Boston.com article)…it’s a PUBLIC PARK…where is that claim coming from?
- The @Occupy_Boston twitter feed denies that they made any such claim regarding “anarchists”, Commisioner Tim Caputo (video here) Why is the BPD trying so hard to come up with a reason to justify arrests that are unjustifiable?
- Is it true that the police tried to arrest those taking pictures first as claimed?
I find my faith in institutions I believe in, that I’ve worked for and with, shaken.
I know that if I were there, it’s not like I could do anything. I’m 35 weeks pregnant and on bed rest. But Boston is my home, and I love it. Boston is a part of me, and I wear the label of Bostonian proudly. Today being so far from home is hard, even knowing I couldn’t change a damn thing if I were there. I can only stand witness via electronic media and say the following….
I do not condone the actions of the Boston Police Department, or anyone involved in the police actions in Boston.
Boston has a long tradition of protest (um, hello–ORIGINAL TEA PARTY? FIRST SHOTS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION? FIRST ABOLITIONIST SOCIETY? etc etc etc) and we pride ourselves on our heritage of freedom. Where was that freedom tonight?
Occupy Boston, I may not agree with your approach to change, but you deserve better than what you’re getting.
Photo credit: aaron spagnolo’s flickr stream