Participants in the “Occupy Boston” protest in Dewey Square were contemplating their next moves Tuesday afternoon, following a round of arrests overnight.
Several protesters were transported to Boston Municipal Court to face arraignment for ignoring warnings to move from part of the Rose Kennedy Greenway, where a group of the Occupy Boston movement were attempting to expand their encampment.
Boston police reported that they arrested 129 people starting at about 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, mostly for trespassing.
The Suffolk district attorney’s office said 18 protesters were scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday, with 35 more expected to be arraigned in the next two days.
Several other protesters were in court Tuesday as a show of support. Others, like Lisa Doherty, stayed on the Greenway. Doherty said she thought that in the long run, the arrests will help the protesters’ cause.
“It’s going to galvanize more people to come here, just like it did on Wall Street,” Doherty said. “As soon as the police started brutalizing people on Wall Street, that place exploded, and I’m really hoping that’s what happens here.”
The protesters, part of the national Occupy Wall Street movement, had tried to expand from their original site in Dewey Square to a second site across the street, along the Rose Kennedy Greenway. The protesters say they had outgrown their space and needed room for additional tents. A local conservancy group recently planted $150,000 worth of shrubs along the Greenway and officials said they were concerned about damage.
Boston police had warned protesters for several hours that they would have to return to Dewey Square, where a tent city has been steadily growing, and issued leaflets saying protesters could not occupy the Greenway.
Hundreds of transit, MBTA, county and state police surrounded the square as riot police carrying batons and plastic handcuffs entered the encampment and asked people to leave early Tuesday morning. As arrests began, some protesters linked arms around the tents, while others sat down, refusing to leave the new encampment. Most went calmly, while others were forcibly dragged by police out of the Greenway.
Nadeem Mazen, of Occupy Boston, says they are on public land and “the brutality of this action was unwarranted,” referring to the police activity around the arrests.
“I did not expect to see people thrown to the ground,” Mazen said. “I did not expect to see older people thrown to the ground and punched in the face or that kind of thing.”
City officials deny mistreating demonstrators.
Boston resident Matt Hollander, 25, said a group of veterans carrying American flags were standing in between police and the protesters when officers advanced on them. One veteran, he said, was pushed to the ground and a group of protesters fell in a heap.
“If they wanted to arrest us they could have done that without pushing us…without tramping the flag,” Hollander said.
Another protester, Shawdeen Vatan, 21, of Arlington, said she was not surprised at what happened.
“We’re being seen as a legitimate organization,” she said. “People are panicking and trying to get us out of here.”
Police did not report any arrests from an earlier standoff, where hundreds of students from 10 area colleges marched through downtown Monday, briefly confronting police while attempting to hang a banner on a Boston bridge.
The protesters gathered on Boston Common and marched in front of the Massachusetts State House carrying signs that read “Apathy isn’t working, Raise your voice,” and chanting slogans like “Fund education, not corporations” and “We got sold out. Rich got bailed out.
They later marched to a Charlestown bridge near the city’s North End neighborhood hoping to hang a banner.
Police blocked the bridge, which was closed for about an hour before the protesters dispersed. Two demonstrators appeared to scuffle with officers during the standoff. Police did not immediately report any arrests.
The protesters on Wall Street and in Boston and other cities have described themselves at the “99 percent” — referring to what they say are the vast number of Americans struggling to pay their bills while the income gap between the rich and middle class widens.
With reporting by the WBUR Newsroom and The Associated Press