A hundred members of Occupy Boston were arrested in the early hours of Tuesday morning after police tried and failed to get them to give up a satellite encampment across the street from their main Dewey Square occupation. Multiple reports from the scene suggest that the cops used excessive force in the course of making the arrests.
Meanwhile New York mayor Mike Bloomberg made his most conciliatory statement to date on Occupy Wall Street yesterday, saying that he would make no move against the demonstrators in Liberty Plaza “as long as they obey the laws.” Bloomberg, who had previously declined to answer questions about whether he would allow the camp to continue indefinitely, said yesterday that “the weather” could well be the determining factor in how long the occupation goes on.
What these two disparate developments — a raid in Boston, an olive branch in NYC — have in common is a recognition that shutting down major OWS protests is not a practical option for local police right now. Whether Bloomberg or Boston mayor Tom Menino would like to end the protests or not, they each recognize that right now any such attempt would prove disastrous. OWS is just too big, and too popular, to shut down completely.
So instead of a full frontal assault, what we’re seeing in both New York and Boston is an attempt at containment. In NYC, that’s taken the form of mass arrests at street demonstrations. In Boston last night it took the form of pushback against expansion.
Expect to see more of this kind of pushback, in these cities and nationally. And expect to see heightened tension around it as the OWS movement grows in numbers and the spaces already occupied become ever more cramped.