Op-Ed: BU Occupies Boston, An Open Letter to Mayor Thomas Menino

October 18, 2011

by

Occupy Boston Flyer Photo.

The following letter was drafted by a body of students within the BU Occupies Boston group. It does not necessarily represent the views of the Quad, Occupy Boston, Occupy Wall Street, or Boston University as a whole.

Dear Mayor Menino,

We are writing to you in protest of the arrests that were made on Monday, October 10, 2011 as a result of the peaceful expansion of the Occupy Boston camp into the public land at the Rose Kennedy Greenway. This expansion was necessitated by health and safety concerns due to the increased participation of Bostonians in this organic democratic movement.

On the night of the march, six Boston University students were arrested and spent the night in jail after their peaceful demonstration in the Greenway. Without question, the demonstrators acted with a commitment to nonviolence, as they have since the beginning of this movement. However our peaceful protests were met with unnecessary force by the Boston Police Department in what was the largest mass arrest in this city’s recent history. Students were thrown to the ground, legal observers and medics were arrested, and video evidence shows that the Boston Police assaulted members of the Veterans for Peace organization. The tents and other property of the demonstrators were subsequently destroyed, along with the medical supplies being held in that area. We do not understand the justification for this disproportionate use of force.

We understand that a movement of this scale can seem overwhelming to your administration. We appreciated the civil relationship that this city had with the movement in its early stages. However, this relationship is in jeopardy as a result of the gross misconduct of law enforcement on the night of October 10th. We hope to return to a working relationship in the future.

Boston is the people’s city, and is considered by many to be the birthplace of civil disobedience in America. This movement has developed as a response to the growing wealth disparity between the wealthy few and the subjugated many, as well as the corrupting influence of corporate money in our government. This movement is asking very important questions: why is it that the students in our generation cannot graduate without stifling student debt? Why are 30 percent of the youth in this country unemployed? Why are we facing the largest prolonged unemployment rate since the Great Depression while corporate tycoons receive exorbitant severance packages for driving their companies into the ground?

Mayor Menino, we are not that different. You have undoubtedly noticed that these issues are important to your constituents. As mayor since 1993, you have enjoyed strong support from students and unions, yet your actions against the Occupy Boston movement seem contrary to your values. As the mayor of a city famous for political activism, we are concerned by your disregard for First Amendment rights in dealing with the protestors. For this reason, we ask you to visit Boston University and speak with students about this movement. We hope that this event will begin a dialogue that will better serve the Boston community.

Sincerely,

BU Occupies Boston

buoccupiesboston@gmail.com