Court: OccupyBoston can stay, but has to appoint mediators and abide by final ruling

Quinn Norton continues her excellent Wired coverage of the Occupy movement around America, reporting today from Boston, where a court has ruled that the tent-city at Dewey Park is a form of "protected symbolic expression." But in order to capitalize on this, Boston's Occupiers have to swear an oath to abide by the ultimate decision of the court, and to join as a plaintiff the ongoing lawsuit for the right to stay in the park.

But herein lies the rub for Occupy Boston – it’s not an official group, so can’t be listed on the lawsuit. Judge McIntyre instructed the Occupy to appoint official mediators, who have been working with the city through mediation since, and to have members of the group sign on to obey whatever final order she issues.

Those who sign, but don’t abide by the final order, risk a daily fine on top of any charge the city might bring if they move to evict.

Not all of Occupy Boston, which counts its population at 230-250 people, supports the suit.

At this Sunday’s General Assembly, which lasted for four hours, many expressed ambivalence and downright hostility to the idea. A few argued that having some people sign and some not would divide the moment. Others posited that engaging with the system would cost them in moral authority and public support.

Occupy Boston Gets Legal Cover, But Not All Protestors Like It

(Photo: Quinn Norton/Wired)


  1. Genius.  Get the occupiers to fight amongst themselves, and eat the movement from within.  The smartest thing the Occupy Boston group could do is entirely ignore the established leadership and demand the right to self-govern.

  2. For 50 years that historic park (and there are so few parks in Boston) was the location of  … an elevated highway built to segregate the city.

  3. I think some of you are being totally unfair to the local governments who are trying to find a compromise. I work right next door to Occupy Philly and, for the most part, it has been handled by the city very well. Police have only made arrests in cases where there has been suspected violence or they have occupied private property, which is what protesters want or they wouldn’t make the papers.

    The Occupy Philly movement has already cost the city nearly half a million because of the extra time and effort by police and the public property they are occupying is scheduled for a construction project. By occupying it they are keeping workers from their jobs. The city is offering an alternative location for the occupation so they can start the project, but the movement appears to feel (though not all of them do) that ANY concessions are failures, which I don’t understand. Democracy IS about compromise, after all, isn’t it?

    I got really frustrated the other day when I went to the site and read post after post that documented the movement’s deliberations over the tent city, not about the protests against corporate influence (though there were some). And their comment sections are littered with in-fighting. A few weeks ago, my friend went down one day to throw in some support and left after being frustrated because they were deliberating where to get the coffee for a big meeting for over an hour. He said people were arguing about what kind of filters shops used.

    All of this combined is driving the average folks who support this movement away, not brining them in. Me and a lot of my progressive-minded friends who started following this movement with an open and inspired sense that is a good thing are starting to sour on it.

    For me and them what it boils down to are these tent cities. What I don’t understand is why the tent stuff is so important. I have been far more inspired by the marches like the one the bridge in NYC and other marches or ralleys. I understand and agree that protests need to be disruptive to get the message across. But these day-in-day out tent cities are just making people numb to the cause. I’ve seen few national polls that show otherwise. Support is dropping, not rising. And I think the tent cities are to blame for that.

    As much as I hate to use this example, the Tea Party did a much better job of keeping their messages (as factless as some of those messages were) alive without an occupation. And it worked. The last elections sadly bore that out.

  4. “You guys have to leave now; Occupy Boston lost the lawsuit”

    “So go harrass THOSE jerks. I’m part of Occupy Occupy Boston – and we didn’t sign-on to shit”

  5. The idea of self-governance within the camps might be the next big issue, both for legitimate concerns, and for pretextual guilt-by-association.

    I don’t know if the reports are reliable, but there have been a growing number of claims that police are directing frequently busted “usual suspects” to the camps implying that they can do whatever they want in cop-free zones.

    It may suggest that highly publicized drug sweeps are the next tactic in the battle to define the movement’s character for the narrative-hungry media.

  6. Dear Occupy Wall Street,

    I’d just like to personally thank you on behalf of the 1%.  Without your misdirected rage, it would probably not be possible for us Republicans to continue lowering taxes on the super-wealthy at the expense of the stability of the global economy.  You are all true patriots.

    Grover Norquist

  7. Oh those darn tent-city dwellers! It’s like they think that it’s established somewhere that there’s a “right of the people peaceably to assemble”…

  8. Did this Wired story leave half of the transcript out? Just curious what journalistic standards they’re using today.

  9. I am well aware of the Koch brothers and their money. But many tea party dolts who went out to protests and got media attention were not aware of it. They got out their because they believed in something (as much as you or I don’t like some of it) and also wanted to say fuck you.

    But when all you have left to your message is “fuck you,” you don’t have much.

    And don’t be a jerk and assume I don’t protest. I’ve attended my fair share, way before it was popular to do so.

  10. “Those folks do not want to be protesting, they want to be living in the country their grandparents left them.”

    The fact is a lot of people enjoy protesting. Even in the prosperous 1990s people who were into protesting found things to protest against. That doesn’t mean that they were insincere about their political opinions but there are a lot of other less showy but more effective ways to be politically active — like volunteering to mail or call people in support of a political candidate. The problem is that these tend to be rather boring and don’t result in exciting stories to tell one’s friends.

  11. You missed the point of my ‘fuck you’ in about the same way you’re missing the point of the protests. It wasn’t me insulting you, but it’s easy to take it that way if you put yourself in the middle like some grand arbiter of righteousness while making assumptions about others.

    “He said people were arguing about what kind of filters shops used.”

    So what? Thank you for missing my point, while making it.

  12. And don’t be a jerk and assume I don’t protest. I’ve attended my fair share, way before it was popular to do so.

    Hipster Kitty, is that you?

  13. And clearly you are missing my point of why that’s driving the movement’s approval ratings down, not up.

    I also feel I was making some arguments based on what I’ve read and what I’ve seen and talked to people about, as opposed to one that is purely vitriolic.

    The problems we face in this country are some of those most complex we have ever faced. It’s not going to simply be solved by squatting.

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