Stalwart few say the cause will outlast the encampment
To William, 23, a member of Occupy Boston, the thinning of the ranks at the Dewey Square encampment since Thursday has revealed the truly committed.
“We’ve reduced the overall complacency of the people here,’’ said William, who has declined to give his last name to reporters since the start of the protest.
“I’m talking about the capitalists, the middle-of-the-road people,’’ said William.
William is one of a few dozen people who continue living at the Occupy Boston camp, even after Mayor Thomas M. Menino demanded that all protesters clear their tents out of the square by midnight Thursday. Since that announcement, many have cleared out, and with them have gone their tents, leaving Dewey Square the emptiest, and cleanest it has been since the protest began.
Those who stayed compared their refusal to leave the camp to the sinking of the Titanic: They’re going down with the ship.
While Brian Kwoba of East Cambridge has not slept at the camp since Oct. 11 - his tent was confiscated when police evicted the Occupiers from a stretch of the Rose Kennedy Greenway north of Dewey Square - he said yesterday that he plans to return with a new tent this weekend to face down the police in the event of a raid.
Kwoba was disappointed to see Occupy protesters pack up their things at Menino’s command, even if their intent was to protect tents and supplies from police confiscation. Ending the physical occupation, he said, makes it look like protesters are folding. That’s why he plans to come back.
“People who left when the mayor said to leave are undermining the whole purpose of the movement,’’ said Kwoba, 29. “We’re here to challenge the idea that powerful people should dictate what happens in this country.
Protesters living in the camp estimated that 25 to 40 people are continuing to sleep in Dewey Square.
About half are homeless and first arrived at the tent city to avoid staying in a shelter or sleeping alone on the streets. But now, they said, theirs is a principled continuation of the occupation.
Amanda Kuupiel, 23, is one of the homeless, and said she has been staying at the encampment since September.
While she said Thursday that she was planning to leave the camp before the mayor’s midnight deadline - “it’s not worth it’’ to get arrested, she said - she returned to the camp yesterday, having had a change of heart.
Now, she wants to stay until police arrive, and she is disappointed that not everyone will be joining her.
“It’s like they left us when the heat turned on, but we’re supposed to stick together,’’ Kuupiel said. “They ran away like little piglets.’’
Still, Kuupiel and other protesters said they were surprised to see how the look and feel of the camp had changed in just a few days, in a good way. Up until Thursday, quarters had been cramped in Dewey Square, they said.
With half the tents gone, the place felt cleaner and more pleasant to live in.
“It’s feeling more peaceful, and we’ve cleaned up the grounds quite a bit,’’ said Sage Radachowsky, 38, while taking a break from disposing trash from the camp into a city garbage truck. “There really were safety hazards here. That was true, I don’t deny it.’’
Radachowsky lives in a one-person tent that sits on a set of large wheels. It’s a mobile housing unit, he said, that cost $100 to make.
He said he plans to stay as long as he can in Dewey Square, but when the police tell him to clear out, that is exactly what he’ll do.
“We don’t want confrontation for the sake of confrontation,’’ Radachowsky said. “We want to show that we are responsible people, not a radical sect.’’
Not everyone shares this opinion, Radachowsky acknowledged. Many of the younger people are looking to have a final showdown with police, and “they will get theirs,’’ he said.
But some of them, he said, fail to realize that Occupy Boston’s message and mission can continue, even when protesters are no longer living on Dewey Square.
“There’s a distinction between freedom of speech and occupation of land,’’ said Radachowsky. “I think this phase of the Occupation has run its course.’’