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Occupy Boston affirms basic liberties

Posted by Carol Rose, On Liberty  October 7, 2011 07:58 AM

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Freedom-loving people should take heart: Peaceful assembly and protest is alive and well in the cradle of liberty.

Occupy Boston, the local offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement, is gaining support on a daily basis, with students, nurses, labor unions, and others joining the non-violent protest in Boston’s Dewey Square.

I applaud the protestors for flexing their rights to demonstrate. Use it or lose it.

I also applaud Mayor Menino’s recognition of these rights and the Boston Police Department’s respect in dealing with the protestors thus far. Boston’s treatment of the Occupy Movement stands in sharp contrast to NYC’s, where nearly 1,000 people have already been arrested, and many have beaten and pepper sprayed.

The NYPD’s heavy-handed policing had the effect of inspiring more disgruntled citizens to join the movement. A Harvard Crimson story about students joining the movement quotes a typical student who joined Occupy Boston in response to repressive police tactics in New York:

“I had some friends who were in Occupy Wall Street in New York, and they got mace in the face. That actually ended up on video. They were arrested, they were put in handcuffs for three hours, detained for three hours. It was bad ... I was so angry about it, and then Occupy Boston began.”

Tea Party members, perhaps feeling out done in the protest-the-government department, reportedly are miffed that the police are not arresting people at Dewey Square for lacking a permit. Really? Gee, I thought the Tea Party folks wanted less government repression, not more of it. Go figure.

I’m also amused by the folks who critique the Occupy Movement for not having clear goals and ready solutions to the problems of corporate greed and growing economic inequalities.

But as the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart so aptly noted: “America cannot expect a bunch of disenfranchised park-dwellers to come up with a solution to its economic woes — they have a political ruling class to do that."

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

Carol Rose is executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts. A lawyer and journalist, Carol has spent her career working for and writing about human rights and civil liberties, both in the United States and abroad. More »

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