To see more photos of this march, click here.
On the night of January 28th, a small group of Occupy Oakland protesters entered an abandoned building, the out-of-use Kaiser Convention Center. Their intent was to set up a space to be used by the 99%; according to the organizers of this action, they intended to provide medical, educational and housing services to anyone who asked.
In response to the occupation of the abandoned building, Oakland police kettled (sectioned off) the entire area and began arresting participants in the action en masse. Over 400 people were arrested – including at least six members of the press – and there have been reports of violence on both sides. A small number of occupiers have been reported to have thrown bottles and burnt an American flag while the police used flash bang/concussion grenades as well as tear gas, rubber bullets and bean bag guns.
In support of the Occupy protesters in Oakland, the occupiers of Boston took to the streets the following night, January 29th, for a solidarity march. Between 100 and 150 protesters attended this solidarity march, which was led through the streets by a large police presence.
The march began at around 7:00 pm at Copley Sq. after a General Assembly in the nearby Community Church of Boston, and ended in Dewey Square – the site of Occupy Boston’s former encampment – at around 10:00 pm. The group moved in a large circle, from Copley all the way down Newbury St., and eventually back along Boylston St. to the now de-camped Dewey Sq.
Unlike many marches conducted by the Occupy Boston protesters, this march was primarily focused upon police brutality rather than broader economic issues. Numerous chants of “From Oakland to Greece, disarm the police” and “Hey, hey, ho, ho, police brutality has got to go” were used by the protesters to express their displeasure at the treatment of their allies in Oakland.
Overall, tensions were high among the protesters, due to the perceived injustice of the massive police action on primarily peaceful protesters. Boston police were also on guard, due to the perceived danger of an aggressive march in Boston.
Despite the conflict in Oakland increasing pressure on police and occupiers, there were no instances of violence or harassment on either side of the march. The police led the march along its route and diverted traffic so as to prevent traffic build-up, and the protesters stayed on the appointed route. The only point where the protesters broke from the route was when they detoured through the Boston Common to Dewey Square, but this was taken in stride by both sides. Once the march arrived at Dewey Sq., the protesters stayed a while, played some music, and eventually dispersed.