Curtain falling on Occupy protest
Police action seen as imminent A day of defiance, cleaning up
Defying the city’s order to dismantle their encampment, a dwindling band of Occupy Boston protesters vowed yesterday to continue their two-month demonstration until they are forced to leave and braced for a possible confrontation with police.
The day after more than 1,000 protesters flooded the streets around Dewey Square in a raucous display of civil disobedience, a sense of resignation pervaded the camp, with many accepting the likelihood that the country’s longest continual encampment had run its course.
Last night, protesters were texting each other that they had heard reliably that police planned to make their move before morning.
Dot Joyce, spokeswoman for Mayor Thomas M. Menino, said, “The mayor has made it quite clear they should go home.
Although she declined to specify when police would evict the demonstrators, she added, “The police will take action at some point when it is necessary and appropriate.’’
Many of the hallmarks of the tent compound - a statue of Gandhi, a food tent, and a library - were gone, and the camp was strewn with trash, tarps, and mud. Lawyers for the demonstrators, meanwhile, did not take legal action to stave off eviction from the square, in the shadow of the Federal Reserve Bank by South Station.
But as most protesters decided to pull up stakes, a group of about 40 diehards dug in with quiet resolve, saying their cause was too important to abandon until the bitter end.
A 20-year-old man from Dorchester hammered a wooden stake into the ground to secure his tent. Police will have to remove him by force, he said in a determined voice.
A young woman, her face covered with a bandanna, held a handwritten sign that proclaimed “We’re Still Here!’’
“There hasn’t been victory yet,’’ said another protester, Devon Pendleton, 21, who said more protesters were on the way. “We have a lot more to do.’’
All the signs, however, suggested they had little time left. Police stationed around the camp began barring occupants from bringing in food, at one point stopping them from carrying in a tray of ziti.
Jeffrey Feuer, a Cambridge lawyer representing Occupy Boston demonstrators, said that occupiers are still considering their legal options.
“No final decision has been reached one way or another,’’ he said.
Joyce said that while most protesters had complied with the Thursday midnight deadline to vacate the park, others were “interested only in a police conflict.’’
On Thursday, Menino said he wanted protesters to leave by midnight, and many of them complied. But overnight Thursday, the demonstration swelled and spilled onto Atlantic Avenue, where activists staged a sit-down and chanted, “We are the 99 percent.’’
Police later announced that they would not disperse the crowd, drawing cheers. Around 3 a.m. yesterday, they arrested two people who had moved tents onto the street. The demonstrators face charges of disorderly conduct.
Officers maintained their calculated approach yesterday, content for the time to fight a war of attrition against the movement. They maintained a small presence around the camp yesterday.
“We see progress being made,’’ said Edward F. Davis, the city’s police commissioner, as he toured the camp yesterday morning.
“Slowly, we will clear the place out,’’ he said. “We are just looking for reasonableness.’’
Police in other cities have forcibly ended encampments, but Boston police have proceeded with caution, maintaining regular contact with organizers despite the group’s diffuse leadership.
Yesterday, some protesters praised police for their restraint.
“Your guys were the best last night,’’ Philip O’Connell, 44, a carpenter from Amherst, told Davis.
O’Connell, who has stayed in Dewey Square since the occupation’s third day, said its moment had passed.
“I’m hoping to be the last tent standing,’’ he said, but “it’s pretty much over.’’
Frustrated over their dwindling numbers, some activists voiced anger at the police strategy that caused the movement to dissolve on its own.
“I’m very sad,’’ said a woman named Bianca, from Gloucester. “I feel like the police tricked us and made our own people end the movement. People were scared and fled.’’
Menino announced the deadline after a judge ruled Wednesday that the protesters had no First Amendment right to “seize and hold’’ the land and were subject to city regulations that closes the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway at night.
The demonstrators, who decry the widening gap between the haves and have-nots and the often cozy relationship between politicians and the corporate world, said that the occupation had succeeded in changing the national conversation and that their work would continue.
“Even though it appears that the physical occupation is ending, we built a solid community,’’ said Matt Cloyd, 22, from Hanover, N.H.
“We can continue with the movement independent of the physical camp.’’