by Matt Cloyd
As the camp began to wake Sunday morning, a group of occupiers smoked cigarettes and chatted by the benches near the south end of Dewey Square park. An unmarked cruiser pulled up in line with the pathway as the occupiers began to speak of the October 11 police raid on the northern expansion of the camp.
The officer in the cruiser, apparently overhearing comments of disapproval regarding the police raid, called out the cruiser window, inquiring about Occupy Boston’s community rules.
“You have ‘no drugs or alcohol’ rules, right?” he asked. “Who enforces those?”
One occupier replied, “We do.” The officer, grinning, asked whether that made the occupiers equivalent to the police.
Martin Dagoberto, of the Faith & Spirituality working group, approached the officer’s vehicle at his request.
The officer introduced himself as Bob Chicolo. Mr. Chicolo made a series of observations about the camp, characterizing it as a microcosm of the larger society. He noted that the occupation’s first task was to set up a medical tent. “How do you determine who gets first access to health care?” he asked, smiling.
“You’re wrestling with the things the larger society is wrestling with,” he said.
He compared General Assemblies to the town meetings of early colonial New England. “You go back 400 years…it’s the exact same thing.”
As Chicolo made mention of specific policies, Dagoberto explained them to the officer in greater detail and nuance. He clarified that the self-enforcement of rules was “non-authoritative” and that potentially contentious issues, such as the hypothetical censoring of material in the camp library, would be brought to the General Assembly for discussion.
Sensing an undercurrent of distrust left over from the October 11 raid, Chicolo seemed to take Dagoberto’s defense of camp policies as defensiveness: Chicolo repeatedly deferred, clarifying that his statements were not criticisms, merely observations that he found amusing.
Dagoberto at one point clarified that the occupation was more a process than a protest, describing it as “an exercise in direct democracy.” He praised the occupation, asserting that the process was much more productive than inaction. Chicolo seemed to agree.
Chicolo said that his nineteen-year-old son was taking part in the ongoing Sacred Sites Peacewalk for a Nuclear Free World, a two-week march to the nuclear power facility in San Luis Obispo, CA. The intention of the march, he said, was to call attention to the dangers of nuclear energy exemplified by the Fukushima disaster earlier this year.
Dagoberto held back from asking Chicolo if his son was a hippie, but Chicolo needed no prompt. “There’s this picture of a rifle,” he said, “that has written on it: ‘You give peace a chance, and I’ll cover you in case it doesn’t work out.’”
“That describes our relationship”, he said.
Dagoberto nodded and replied, saying, “It takes all kinds.”