The Faces of Occupy Boston

Nakia Hill
Spare Change News

Dorothy Allen is an environmental engineer who stands on the corner of Dewey Square holding up a sign that reads Investment Banks Reinvents Socialism. A nun pulls up in her car and gives Allen the thumbs up and says, “God bless you!” It has been almost a week since Allen has used her lunch break to join the Occupy Boston movement along with the many different faces that have joined the trending demonstration worldwide.

“It’s like my second home now,” Allen said.

Although Allen is employed she is protesting on behalf of her children, whom she is afraid won’t find jobs after they graduate from college. She is also protesting against the banks and capitalistic systems. “It’s not that capitalism is a bad system, it’s just that it’s been perverted by the banks and the government has let them get away with it.”

Many Massachusetts residents like Allen have joined the movement for personal reasons and have found unique ways to volunteer their time to participate. John Ford, owner of Meta Comet bookstore in Plymouth, alongside the Boston Radical Reference Collective and the Simmons Progressive Librarians Guild, has established a new library conceived on Thursday, October 13, which is open to anyone who pays a visit to the Occupy Boston campsite. After visiting Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Baltimore, Ford decided to participate in Boston’s movement.

“This is the only time that I have ever experienced a protest of this caliber in my life and I’m 30 years old. I’ve read about things similar, but nothing with the spirit that this occupation has,” Ford said.

Emma Joyce, part-time tutor, is in her mid-twenties and decided to join the movement because she cannot find a job.

“I can’t donate money because I don’t have money. I can’t donate large amounts of supplies for the same reason, but I figure I have my first aid certification and I can wash dishes,” Joyce said.

Joyce comes from a family that she says was considered middle class up until the recession. It has been nearly two years since she graduated from college with a degree in English, but she is now receiving SNAP, also known as food stamps to pay for groceries. “I don’t make enough to eat without the assistance.”

She also said that the lack of jobs is frustrating and leaves her feeling like her unemployment status is beyond her control.

“If it were me I could take classes to enhance my skills. I could learn to interview better, I could rewrite my resume, but if it’s the economy what the hell can I do besides this,” Joyce said.

Conservatives like Rush Limbaugh thinks the movements are pointless and is a space where lazy citizens can gather and complain.

“This is not an intellectual movement; it’s a temper tantrum by a bunch of spoiled rotten kids who don’t know anything,” said Limbaugh.

On Saturday, October 16, Governor Deval Patrick visited the encampment to meet the faces of the Occupy Boston movement. “I’m trying to understand,” Patrick said as he walked around shaking protestors hands and hearing their stories and concerns.

There are several stories told and untold by Occupy Boston participants who volunteer in the makeshift kitchen to serve food or wash dishes, sit at the information and media desk to assist visitors and occupants, or those professors volunteering their time to teach free university courses to anyone who would like to learn.

One man in particular dressed in jeans, sweat shirt, and Adidas sneakers wanted to remain nameless as he washed dishes out of plastic Tupperware said that the 141 arrests last week on the Rose Kennedy Greenway sparked his interest in joining the protest. He also disclosed that his participation in the movement caused him to get fired from his job. “I’m pretty sure my boss fired me because I told him I completely supported them and I would do everything I could for them. He told me I will not support you guys because you will lose.”

When visitors like Governor Patrick visit the Occupy Boston campsite they will meet an eclectic group of people including college students, homeless people, men in business suits or leather trench coats wearing bandanas around their face, or mothers like Lauren Szafran.

Szafran is a longtime activist who volunteers at the arts tent where she brings her two elementary school aged daughters to decorate picket signs with colorful markers and gold glitter. She has made participating in the Occupy Boston movement a part of her families daily routine. “I think it’s important for them to see.”

Although the Occupy Boston hasn’t clearly determined their goal of outcome of the movement one thing is for sure, the demonstration is a solid melting pot where diverse citizens from various walks of life can unite, chant, converse, or protest with like-minded people.

NAKIA Hill is a Spare Change News writer and editor.

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