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Mayor, BPD need to get their story straight on overnight arrests

Posted by Mark Leccese  October 11, 2011 11:48 AM

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The reasons Mayor Thomas Menino and the Boston Police Department arrested protestors at the Occupy Boston movement late last night — after days of peaceful coexistence — depends on which newspaper website you read this morning.

The 2:53 a.m. version of Boston Globe’s website story says the police were trying to protect the Greenway, and that the space on the Greenway protestors moved to is private property. Here are two paragraphs from the Globe story:

Officials do not want the protesters, who originally settled in Dewey Square, to occupy the space across Congress Street on the Greenway because it recently underwent a renovation project where expensive improvements were added, according to Elaine Driscoll, police spokeswoman.

The notice informed the group of laws against trespassing on a new patch of the Greenway — bordered by Congress Street, Atlantic Avenue, Pearl Street, and Purchase Street — where tents have sprung up since about 4 p.m, and is also private property.

According to the Boston Herald website, in a story the website says was updated at 8 a.m., Boston Police were moving against a new, more dangerous contingent of protestors: anarchists.

Davis acknowledged that the arrests marked a shift in the once harmonious relations between the group and the police.

“The group that was here for the first ten days was working very closely with us,” Davis said, “but they warned us yesterday morning that a new group, the anarchists, wanted to take control.”

If I read that quote right, Commissioner Davis says the police moved in and made arrest because the Occupy Boston people told the police “anarchists” were moving in with plans to “take control.”

But BPD spokeswomen Driscoll says it was because the protestors had moved onto newly renovated private property on the Greeneway.

In an interview with WBUR this morning, Menino said the police were called in to make arrests because “the protestors exceeded the boundaries we set up for them for the original encampment. They took on property that was not part of the agreement they had.”

The mayor made it clear in in the interview that more police action is coming.

“There is a time and place at which we have to end the encampment, and that time and place will come in the near future, but we have to continue to listen to some of the issues they talk about,” Menino told WBUR. “They have some right issues, but the way they went about it – civil disobedience doesn’t work for Boston and it doesn’t work for anyone.”

Stay tuned. This is about to get even more confrontational, and it is unsettling that the Boston Police Department cannot coherently explain the reasons for its actions.

Follow @mleccese on Twitter.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Mark Leccese, a journalism professor at Emerson College, covered Massachusetts politics, business and the arts for more than 25 years as a newspaper reporter, editor and magazine writer. He has More »

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