By Daniel Schneider
On Tuesday, October 18, a small crew from Boston Department of Public Works came into the Occupy Boston encampment to break down the Information Tent. At 11 AM three men, using their hands and rudimentary tools, began the messy process of deconstructing the wooden frame that had been supporting the tent’s large red tarp. Tearing the back wall of the frame off first, from there the crew was able to break down the wooden skeleton piece by piece until nothing remained but a desk covered in pamphlets and a bright blue LED sign reading ‘Occupy Boston’.
The city had contacted members of Occupy Boston several days prior, letting them know that the wooden frame constituted an ordinance violation. Though members of the Occupation have been allowed to erect tents on the southern portion of the Rose-Kennedy Greenway (across from South Station), city ordinance still prevents the erecting of ‘permanent’ structures without proper zoning and inspection.
The wooden frame of the information tent was built by members of Boston’s Construction Worker’s Union over a week ago, in order to make the tent larger, open and more inviting to visitors coming in from Dewey Square. Shortly thereafter, members of the Boston Police informed workers at the tent that their structure was not up to code and represented a step beyond the tents allowed up to that point.
“Safety is a concern of the city, it’s legitimate,” said Rita Sebastian, a woman who works at the Information Tent , “we’ll make sure we don’t use wood and nails in the future.” Ms. Sebastian went on to state how the request to remove the tent first came following the march on Monday October 10th for Indigenous Peoples’ Day (also known as Columbus Day). “I’m not saying that there’s causation, though…but there’s definitely a correlation.”
Potential ulterior motives aside, most felt as though the process by which the structure was removed conformed to the type of relationship many have hoped to have established with the local police. Several notices to take down the wooden supporting structure were given in the week leading up to the take-down before an ultimatum was given: either remove the wooden structure by Monday at 6 PM, or the city would step in to remove it.
Arite Crocker, an engineer with many years of carpentry experience, stood and watched as the Department of Public Works crew tore down the tent. His outlook on the situation seemed optimistic:
“They have other options for the future. They can use materials not considered to be permanent, materials which resemble something you would see used to build a traditional tent. Aluminum poles, even PVC materials.”
This will be important to consider as the Information Tent attempts to rebuild. Rita Sebastian said that a new tent would be brought in as soon as the crew had departed, and the tent would be up and running by the afternoon.
“What we do is very important, here at the occupation. We’re the first thing people see, and need for the dissemination of information. If we can help it, we won’t ever stay down for very long.”