They emerged from their tents in the heart of the Financial District as the rush hour kicked into high gear and as commuters dressed in business attire flowed out of the nearby MBTA South Station Red Line. As the demonstrators, wearing mostly jeans and sweaters and toting backpacks, gathered on the sidewalk along Atlantic Avenue, cardboard posters in hand, a few passers-by stopped to snap pictures on their cell phones.
A few people on their way to work briefly joined the Occupy Boston demonstration at Dewey Square this morning. And one woman brought homemade cookies, treats she had intended to bring to co-workers. About 1oo people participated in the protest march.
“It was a humanitarian gesture, but then I realized, yeah, I support what these folks are campaigning for,’’ said Wendy Nicholas, the regional director of a non-profit agency.
“When you get a teeny percent of the American population making more than all the rest of the American population, when you get a budget situation where this Congress won’t ask the wealthiest of Americans to pay more and instead are trying to solve the problem on the backs of the elderly and the poor, and when you get the american taxpayers bailing out the banks and the insurance companies and they still get their zillion dollar bonuses, yeah , I support what these guys are fighting for because it’s ridiculous, its a crazy situation,’’ Nicholas said.
The demonstrators stuck to a non-confrontational policy, reminding themselves occasionally that they are fighting peacefully for “the 99 percent.’’
Using a bullhorn, Jason Potteiger, 25, roused the participants prior to their setting off on a march to Beacon Hill. While he reflected the crowd in age, Potteiger’s dress was more in line with the attire of those heading to work in the Financial District- khakis, a crisp white long-sleeve shirt and a dark tie.
He carried a rolled-up posterboard, a symbolic letter the group intended to deliver to the State House.
“This is our letter…the back reads ‘get out of our government, we want our country back- the 99 percent,’’’ said Potteiger, one of the spokespersons for Occupy Boston.
As the protesters marched along Summer Street and through Downtown Crossing, their chants echoing off the nearby buildings, uniformed Boston police officers walked alongside. At intersections, officers on motorcycles halted traffic to allow the marchers an unfettered passage. At one moment, when the march spilled onto the street, police instructed them to return to the sidewalk and they complied.
At the State House, the participants stood on the front steps and chanted, “tell me what democracy looks like, this is what democracy looks like.’’
The march then headed to the nearby Fox 25 television station, where they pressed their faces and posters against the window as Doug VB Goudie went on-air inside the studio.
After about three minutes, the marchers made their way back to their camp.
“We’re bringing our message to the 99 percent of Americans that feel that their ability to provide for themselves has been eroded and that their representation in government has been undermined,’’ said Nadeem Mazen,28, of Cambridge, another spokesperson.
Mazen, a small business owner who graduated from MIT in 2006, indicated that the participants of Occupy Boston are prepared to stay put indefinitely.
“Of the 1 percent- a lot of them are using that wealth to subvert the democratic process,’’ he said. “We want everyone in this conversation…it’s definitely going to take people in decision-making capacities to actually effect change, but that pressure comes from below, and as we saw in Tahrir [Square] and New York and all over the world.’’
The Occupy Boston campaign is an outgrowth of a larger protest, called Occupy Wall Street, that has been ongoing in New York City for the past several days. Some 700 people were arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge this weekend. Today, some protestors were dressed as zombies.