bostonoccupier.com | Te Boston Occupier - Free Press
Dec. 21st, 2011
banks.“People are being oreclosed on without theproper paperwork,” City Lie member AntonioEnnis told the crowd at a rally o Occupy theHood, which is organizing in black neighborhoodsin Boston, earlier this year. “Families are being putout on the street. Te only thing that is going tostop it is people power.” “People power” createdthe value the banks now seek to seize, and this same“people power” is now the only thing preventingthe wholesale destruction o the community.
Reorm vs. Systematic Change
James Teckston, a ormer banker orChase, told New York imes columnistNicholas Kristo that his bank pushedsubprime loans on minority borrowers, even when they qualied or a prime loan. Kristo explained: “[Teckston] says that someaccount executives earned a commissionseven times higher rom subprime loans,rather than prime mortgages. So they looked or less savvy borrowers—those withless education, without previous mortgageexperience, or without fuent English—andnudged them toward subprime loans. Teseless savvy borrowers were disproportionately black and Latino, and they ended up payinga higher rate so that they were more likely tolose their homes. Senior executives seemedaware o this racial mismatch and rantically tried to cover it up.”Tis kind o systemic ailure shows thediculty community organizations like CL/VU ace. How can they hope to work withinthe system when the laws that exist, such asthose prohibiting discrimination in mortgagelending based on race or ethnicity, aren’tenorced? “We identiy as radicals,” Peterssays, “in that we look to attack the root o theproblem. While we work or reorm, we areconstantly asking ourselves, ‘How can we alsobe addressing systematic change?’ Much o our work is trying to stop evictions, but how do we also take aim at the banking industry or capitalism?”One o the results o this interest in radicalchange has been City Lie’s participation inthe Radical Organizing Conerence, held incollaboration with other grassroots organi-zations in Boston. Tere have been six suchconerences in the last eight years. Here, workshops on dierent styles o organizingmix with orums or sharing ideas on how tomove orward. “Te question,” Peters says, “ishow do we create a larger let out o all thedierent activist organizations doing great work in really specic, ocused ways?”
Te alliance between Occupy Boston andCL / VU is in keeping with national devel-opments in the Occupy movement. OnDecember 6th, activists in more than twenty cities took part in a national day o actioncalled Occupy Homes. In Brooklyn, Occupy Wall Street rallied to support a homelessamily as they re-occupied a vacant oreclosedhome as part o the Occupy Homes initiative.In Boston, the publicly announced alliancebetween CL / VU and Occupy Boston wasthe result o a learning process that dates back to the establishment o the Dewey camp onSeptember 30th. In the rst weeks o Occupy,relations between the two groups couldbe rocky, as each learned how to work with the other. “Community-building istough,” says Katie Gradowski, a membero Occupy Boston’s Outreach WorkingGroup and liaison to CL/VU. “Occupy Boston comes in as kind o blank slate—it’s this big, crazy, unwieldy, beautiulproject, with a lot o heart and a slightly incoherent message. We have a lot to learnrom community organizations, and alot to bring to the conversation. Ater amonth or so o working to develop theserelationships, we’re in a better place toactually get out beyond Dewey Square andstart doing stu.”Investment in relationship-building hasproduced stronger and smarter “peoplepower.” In recent weeks, participantsin Occupy Boston have increased theirparticipation in CL/VU events, accordingto occupier Bryan MacCormack, whosays that members o Occupy Bostonnow “consistently attend meetings in JPand East Boston, and auction protests.”Protesters have attended recent anti-eviction actions in Dorchester andCambridge and several even traveled toSpringeld to attend a regional action withCL/VU and several aliated organizations.Tose at Occupy Boston who participate inCL/VU actions oten speak o their work asan apprenticeship in community organizing.
Continued from Page 1:Te Right to the City
Te Raid of Occupy Boston
By Matt Cloyd and Aliza Howitt
It was shortly ater 4:45 am, late enough thatmany protesters had concluded there would not bea police raid, when two people ran into the midsto the Dewey Square encampment, breathless. Oneyelled “Mic check! Tey’re here!” as dozens o whitepolice vans surged around the Federal Reserve,lining Atlantic Ave and quickly blocking o all clearviews o the camp.In a rush o activity, several protesters crossed thestreet together, moving to the plaza in ront o theFederal Reserve. Others gathered in the center o the camp, awaiting arrest.In ront o the Federal Reserve, police ormeda moving wall to orce protesters and onlookersto move across the intersection to South Station,urther away rom the camp. Police did not respondto onlookers’ inquiries as to why they weren’t beingallowed to stand across the street. Arrests happened quickly. Within one hour o arrival, more than orty occupiers were arrested,according to Jason Pramas o Open Media Boston.Five men sat in ront o a ront-end loader, whichthey suspected would be used to clear the park. Tecommanding ocer on the scene, ater attemptingto negotiate with them, told them they would becharged with resisting arrest and inormed themthey would not be able to be released on bail. (Teoccupiers were correct: the ront-end loader beganto demolish the camp at 6:50 am.)During these arrests, three Boston Police ocers with bright LED fashlights approached the Occupy Boston Livestream and other videographers who were standing on the sidewalk. Te ocers shinedthe fashlights into the camera lenses, creatinglens fares in an attempt to prevent the camerasrom capturing the arrests. Te ocers kept theirfashlights to their chests, obscuring their badgenumbers.Troughout the early morning, groups o protesters entered the street and sat down, armslinked, as a show o solidarity with those who hadbeen arrested in the encampment. One group o protesters, reusing easy arrests by sticking theirground or going limp, were hauled into police wagons. A Public Works truck was attempting toleave Atlantic Ave when an older woman, standingby hersel, blocked it. She was also arrested.Four women who locked arms and entered thestreet shortly ater sunrise and were promptly arrested, but rocked the police wagon rom inside,much to the amusement o the onlooking occupiers.Most o the protesters who had been herded inront o South Station remained there throughthe morning, joining together in chants and songsexpressing solidarity with those who had beenarrested and condemning the destruction o theencampment.Te thirty arrested occupiers whom the policeidentied as male were taken to the District D-4South End station, while the thirteen identied asemale (including one legal observer) were taken tothe District C-6 station in South Boston. As the protesters in ront o South Station grew louder, the police presence at the corner o Atlanticand Summer went rom three ocers to approxi-mately twenty. Protesters openly vented their disap-proval o the many arrests, chanting and yellingangrily. Apparently moved by their words, Robin Jacks noted that one ocer temporarily retreatedin tears multiple times, to the consternation o hersuperiors.One ocer was heard laughing derisively atprotesters and joking about using hand grenades onthem.Despite claims rom only a day earlier that noraid was imminent, the Boston Police demonstratedclear strategic planning by evicting the occupiersat 5 am on a Saturday morning. Just beore theeviction, there were at most 200 people in Dewey Square, compared to over 1000 the night beore.Since it was Saturday, trac was at a minimum,and the eviction would not be highly visible to thepublic.Unlike many evictions around the country,the Boston Police Department evicted occupiers without resorting to pepper spray or beatings.However, police were prepared to use violenceagainst the peaceul protesters. A pickup carryingan LRAD (Long Range Acoustic Device), alsoknown as a “sound cannon” or its potential to causepermanent hearing damage, was parked on SummerSt. In addition, several ocers were equipped withunidentied canisters on their backs, and the whitevans were purportedly ull o riot gear. At 8:05 am, a truck labeled “Grati Busters”began demolishing the mural o signs and artwork on the north wall o Dewey Square, even asGreenway ocials are considering a permanentstructure honoring the occupation and its contri-bution to the city’s now-amous parcel o land.occupying the square. And at 5 am on a Saturday morning, visibility and trac were small issues. At 8:05 am ollowing the eviction, a truck labeled“Grati Busters” began demolishing the mural o signs on the north wall o Dewey Square, even asGreenway ocials are considering a permanentstructure honoring the occupation and its signi-cance to the history o the Greenway’s now-amousparcel o land.
Walking Out OnMainstream Economics
By Pan Angelopoulos
A little over a month ago, in early November,more than seventy students in Proessor N.Gregory Mankiw’s introductory economicscourse at Harvard University stood up and walkedout o the lecture. Tey organized this walk-outto protest the course’s neoliberal predispositions,the corporatization o higher education, and thegrowing burden o student debt. Te studentsexplained that their action was in solidarity withOccupy Wall Street, and went on to join a marchin downtown Boston.In organizing this action, the students drew attention to a problem that has its roots in themainstream neoclassical theory that dominatestoday’s economics departments. According tosuch theory, the discipline is a positive sciencethat can be used to reach empirical judgmentsree o bias and ideology. Tis way o thinkingabout economics has generated elegant math-ematical models, but these cannot compensateor its incorrect assumptions. Te Harvardstudent protest, and the Occupy movement morebroadly, prompt reconsideration o what it mightmean to walk out on mainstream economics.Te primary problem with neoclassicaleconomics is that its conceptual apparatus issupposed to transcend social and class relations.In act, however, this supposed transcendenceconceals capitalism’s natural inequality. Focusedonly on the way economic relations look super-cially (i.e. like relations between things), neoclas-sical economics is not able to analyze the exploit-ative and alienating relations that underlie theprocess o exchange, relations that are becomingclearer and clearer to masses o discontented anddispossessed workers as a result o the currentcrisis.Te act that the majority o academic econo-mists rarely address these concerns is certainly not a matter o intelligence, but rather one o ideology and class allegiance. As Marx and Engels wrote in Te German Ideology: “Te ideas o theruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas:i.e., the class which is the ruling material orce o society, is at the same time its ruling intellectualorce.” In his Prison Notebooks, Antonio Gramscideveloped this analysis urther, drawing attentionto the role o intellectuals in capitalist society:“Te intellectuals are the dominant group’sdeputies exercising the subaltern unctions o social hegemony and political government. Tesecomprise… Te ‘spontaneous’ consent given by the great masses o the population to the generaldirection imposed on social lie by the dominantundamental group.”It is because o the above reasons that orthodoxeconomics is normative and apologetic. It ismore interested in deending the interests o thecapitalist class and its hangers-on (the 1%) thanin critical inquiry. Neoclassical economics is, inshort, the economics o capital.Te urgent need now is or a political economy o the working class, one which includes the‘old’ proletariat o the actories and the ‘new’precariat o part-time work, exhausting ‘fexible’hours, intensive exploitation, and, in general,o precarious employment circumstances. Suchan economics would provide a theoretical oun-dation or the liberation o humanity; that is,or a society where the ree development o eachindividual is a condition or the ree developmento all. Although radical political economists do inte-grate capitalist class relations into their theories,or orthodox economists to join their heterodoxcolleagues would require nothing less than arevolution in their way o thinking. It wouldinvolve understanding capital not as a thing, butas the independent social power o capitalistsover workers, o the primacy o prots overhuman needs and rights. Politically, it wouldentail abandoning the principles o neoliberalism,resisting the commodication o the commons,and ghting or an economy geared towards thesatisaction o human needs and built upon theoundations o dignity, justice, equality, decen-tralized planning, and workplace democracy.Economics is thus both a social science and acontested battleground - one that the Occupy movement needs to ght or. Te most enduringcritiques o established economic dogmas –Marxist critiques, Keynesian, and others – werebacked by popular movements that demandedradical social and political change. People oughtor new economies, and social and politicalchange, in their workplaces and in the streets.oday, ater years o political and ideologicaldeeats at the hands o the 1%, we can andmust draw conclusions dierent rom those o economic orthodoxy. It is imperative to show that working people do not have to pay or capital-ism’s crises through cuts to social services, unem-ployment, lower living standards, poverty, anddepression. Furthermore, as part o this struggle,it is necessary to emphasize the unity o the 99%:those engaging in both manual and intellectuallabour, unionized and non-unionized, legal and‘illegal’ workers, regardless o skin color or sex.In order to conront the prevailing economicthought, however, it is necessary to make clearthat economics is not pure mathematics andeconomic thinking is not t only or technocrats.Te disciplines o political science, sociology,economics, history, and philosophy are deeply interconnected. Teir connection refects o thereal interactions between the market economy,the state, the political sphere, social and class rela-tions, and ideology. o argue that economics isan objective science divorced rom these spheresis precisely to misunderstand it. It is to view capi-talism’s crises as natural disasters rather than asproducts o the system’s contradictions. Against such a perspective, we must approachsocial science with the courage, as Marx urged,to undertake “ruthless criticism o everythingexisting,” not araid o its own conclusions orconficts with the powers that be. o take a stepin this direction means deciding between realdemocracy and cannibalistic capitalism. It is totake sides on the burning question that conrontshumanity in our time: socialism or barbarism.
Te BostonOccupier’s Staf/Contributors:
Gar AlperowitzPan Angelopoulos Angie BrandtHeidi V. ButtersworthMatt CloydIan CorneliusDoug Enaa GreeneEthan HarrisonOmer Hecht Aliza HowittLando Julie OrlemanskiMarlie Pesek Joshua SagerDan Schneideress SchefanKatie SoldauChris SturrStephen Squibb
A “Home or the Holidays” speak-out in Dorchester with CL/VU, the Bank Tenants Association and Occupy Boston onDecember 16, 2011.(Photo: Tess Schefan / Activestills.org)