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Inspired by protesters in New York fighting what they say is Wall Street greed, hundreds of people on Monday marched from a tent city on a grassy plot of land in downtown Boston to the State House to call for an end of corporate control of government.
“There is a recognition that democracy can’t function, our beautiful system of American checks and balances has been thoroughly trashed by the influence of banks and big finance that have made it impossible for the people to speak,” said Marisa Engerstrom, 30, of Somerville, a Harvard University doctoral student.
Dozens of tents studded the piece of land just across the street from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston building, a site on the fringe of the city’s financial district chosen by design by the coalition known as Occupy Boston.
“Like a friend said, we’re in a little bit of green and hope among the cathedrals of wealth,” Engerstrom said.
An estimated 300 people have been camped out since Friday, and some said they are willing to stay “until things get better,” she said.
The demonstrators have decorated their tents with hand-written signs that say things such as “Fight the rich, not their wars,” and “Human need, not corporate greed.”
They hold daily organizational meetings to determine their course of action, while some stand on the sidewalk holding up signs to traffic on busy Atlantic Avenue, engaging in debate with passers-by and waving at honking cars.
Not all the support was positive. One man yelled “Go home!” from the cab of his truck as he drove past, while another man made an obscene gesture.
Patrick Putnam, 27, a chef from Framingham, said he’s standing up for the 99 percent of Americans who have no voice in government.
“We don’t have voices, we don’t have lobbyists, so we’ve been pretty much neglected by Washington, D.C.,” said Putnam, wearing a red bandanna across his face.
The bandanna isn’t just to hide his face from the multiple surveillance cameras on the Federal Reserve building, he said, but to show solidarity with several other demonstrators wearing similar masks.
Putnam slept in a sleeping bag on a tarp in the open air Sunday night and said he plans to keep coming back as long as his work schedule allows it.
“People are finally coming together in this country,” he said.
The movement is spreading, said Jason Potteiger, a media coordinator for Occupy Boston.
Similar demonstrators are in the works in dozens of other cities, he said.
“We lean left, but there have been tea party people stopping by here who have said, `Hey, we like what you’re doing,”‘ he said.
Organizers said the tent city demonstrators are not affiliated with the group that protested Bank of America foreclosure practices in Boston on Friday, in which more than two dozen people were arrested.
About half a dozen Boston police officers walked the perimeter of the tent city on Monday, but no problems were reported.
In fact, some officers have expressed sympathy for their cause, Engerstrom said.
“The protest has been held in an orderly fashion and we appreciate it,” Officer James Kenneally said.