Protesters at the Occupy Boston camp are preparing for the possibility of a police raid on Thursday night after Mayor Thomas Menino announced police may be forced to take appropriate action if the occupiers do not pack up and vacate their encampment in the city's financial district by midnight.
Menino issued the deadline the day after a Suffolk Superior Court judge lifted a preliminary injunction protecting the protesters from eviction by city officials, an order Judge Frances A. McIntyre gave last month after the New York City Police Department evicted Occupy Wall Street demonstrators from their encampment in an unexpected midnight raid.
On Wednesday, McIntyre ruled the demonstrators' First Amendment right to free speech did not give them the right to seize and hold the public land on which they based their camp. Moreover, the judge ruled the protesters must abide by the regulations set up by the Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy, which leases the Dewey Square property from the state of Massachusetts.
Similar Occupy encampments have been evicted in Oakland, San Francisco and Los Angeles, California, as well as Philadelphia, Penn. Occupy Boston, which has been based in its encampment in Dewey Square since Sept. 30, is one of the longest-lasting protest sites to evade eviction up to this point.
In a statement issued on Wednesday night after McIntyre's ruling, Menino encouraged protesters to remove their tents and evacuate the public square, saying conditions at the site had deteriorated to a point that they presented health and safety risks. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Oakland Mayor Jean Quan listed the same reasons when they ordered the eviction of Occupy demonstrators from their encampments in those cities.
Appeal of Judge's Decision Planned
An attorney for the Occupy Boston protesters told The Boston Globe on Thursday that the group plans to appeal the judge's decision to revoke a temporary restraining order that had protected the demonstrators from eviction since November. The newspaper reports the protesters will be consulting with their lawyers throughout the day Thursday to determine whether they will appeal.
Occupy Boston called an emergency general assembly in Dewey Square at 1 p.m. Thursday. At this point, the group reportedly has no official plan of action regarding the midnight deadline.
While several media outlets report several demonstrators have begun taking down tents and cleaning up Dewey Square -- one protesters told The Boston Herald the group voted to spend $1,000 to rent U-Haul trucks to remove valuables -- many plan to hold their ground and confront law enforcement if they show up to evict them late Thursday. An Occupy Boston emergency text was sent out before noon on Thursday imploring anyone who stands with the Occupy movement to please make your way to Dewey Square TONIGHT. We need you!
Ariel Oshinsky, a member of Occupy Boston's media working group, told the Globe that food, tents and other valuables are being removed from the camp to ensure they will not be destroyed in the event of a raid.
I think a lot of us plan to stay and hold our ground and fight for what we think is right. Nonviolently, of course, Oshinsky said.