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Former Police Commissioner: 'Leaderless' Occupy Boston Somewhat Worrisome

This article is more than 11 years old.
Occupy Boston protesters during a standoff with Boston Police at the Charlestown Bridge Oct. 10 (AP)
Occupy Boston protesters during a standoff with Boston Police at the Charlestown Bridge Oct. 10 (AP)

Protesters in Boston continue their presence in Dewey Square as the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations enter their second month.

For some perspective on the police response to the Boston protests, Morning Edition spoke with William Bratton, who was Boston police commissioner from 1991 to 1994 and the New York police commissioner from 1990 to 1991. He recently returned to the U.S. after spending time in London advising the British government after the August riots there, driven by frustration over the economy.

"Fortunately [Boston hasn't] had any of the violence that Italy, for example, suffered over the weekend," Bratton said. "There's different tactics being used in each city, depending on its particular circumstance."

Members of Occupy Boston say they've raised thousands of dollars as they prepare to hunker down for the cold weather months. Bratton thinks over time the cold weather will mean dwindling numbers.

In the meantime, Bratton is worried about a lack of leadership and what that can mean for safety.

"They seem to be, unfortunately, relatively leaderless at the moment. Which is always problematic because then you have the ability for the agitators within the group to go their own way," Bratton said. "The preference would be for leadership to develop so that you can then coordinate the rules of the game with them. Without leadership comes much more potential for violence and disorder, and nobody wants that."

This program aired on October 18, 2011.

Bob Oakes Senior Correspondent
Bob Oakes was a senior correspondent in the WBUR newsroom, a role he took on in 2021 after nearly three decades hosting WBUR's Morning Edition.



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