Hundreds of Boston police officers swooped down on the Occupy Boston encampment early this morning, arresting dozens of protesters and tearing down tents, bringing an end to the 10-week rally against economic inequality, the longest continual Occupy demonstration in the country.
At least 46 protesters were arrested in the lightning-swift operation, which was over in less than an hour. The vast majority are facing trespassing charges, Boston police spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll said.
“They wanted to get arrested. It went very well, and we’re very happy with this operation,” said Superintendent William Evans.
Sounds like just another eviction. Until I read this way down in the article:
Police appeared very calm throughout the operation. They wore their normal uniforms, not riot gear. Protesters chanted but offered no resistance. In less than an hour, the square was cleared, the area blocked off by steel barricades and patrolled. Police said they wouldn’t let anyone return for the next 24 hours.
Superintendent Evans informed the group sitting down just before they were arrested that police wanted to exercise “the least amount of force possible.”
When several of the protesters changed their minds, saying they didn’t want to be arrested, police relented and released them.
Occupy Boston arrestees arriving at the South End district station could be heard laughing inside their transport van while talking with police who were taking down their identifying information.
They laughed at one point when an officer addressed one arrestee as “the young [man] in the cherry-colored coat.”
This is the same sort of behavior I wrote about regarding the eviction in St. Louis. Simple uniforms. Respectfully asking who wants to be arrested.
The police came not strictly as representatives of authority but as simply other citizens doing their job. They were not faceless people behind riot helmets but people just doing their job.
This shows a strong adaptive response, one that appears to have been learned from other police departments.
Let’s hope this becomes a more permanent response of the police – to lower the threat level tremendously when dealing with people.