At about 5am this morning, Boston police moved in on Occupy Boston’s Dewey Square encampment, arresting 46 protesters under trespassing charges. Immediately after the arrests, police began removing tents and clearing the remaining supplies, effectively shutting down the nation’s longest running Occupy encampment at 10 weeks.
“They wanted to get arrested. It went very well, and we’re very happy with this operation,” Superintendent William Evans said to the Boston Globe this morning.
Police, in regular uniforms rather than riot gear, surrounded the encampment via Atlanic Avenue, telling protesters via a megaphone, “If you don’t leave the park, you will be subject to arrest. You are trespassing on Greenway property,” reports the Globe. Defiantly, protesters sat down, linked arms and waiting their impending arrests.
Police quickly barricaded the Dewey Square encampment, cleared supplies, and within an hour, all that remained of the former Occupy Boston site was mud.
At 10:45am, Mayor Menino held a press conference to discuss the raid. He thanked the occupiers for “shining a light” on economic inequality and for “showing restraint at the end.” However, he told reporters if another camp is put up, the city will immediately remove it.
Police Commissioner Edward Davis also thanked protesters for working with the police department the last few months. Nancy Brennan from the Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy spoke of plans to restore Dewey Square, including sodding, replanting and restoring irrigation systems.
Superindendent William Evans spoke of the “great relationships” the police had with protesters and commended the “great group of kids” at Occupy Boston for working with the police department day in and day out. He also called the arrests “unfortunate,” saying that they “pleaded” with them not to get in the wagon and gave them the option not to get arrested. He also noted police overtime costs of Occupy Boston are near $1 million, while last night’s efforts have not yet been calculated.
Last night’s raid comes after a Suffolk Superior Court judge ruled against Occupy Boston on December 7, lifting a restraining order Occupy Boston had against the city, allowing the City of Boston to remove protesters without warning. On December 8, Mayor Menino gave the protesters until midnight to evacuate from the camp. However, no raid occurred at midnight or beyond, largely due in part to the high number of people who came out to Dewey Square – estimated at 1,000 people.
Occupy Boston is holding a General Assembly meeting at the Boston Common bandstand at 7pm this evening to discuss next steps. We will keep you posted as this story evolves.
Check out the Storify of the events below.