Since its humble beginnings on Wall Street, occupations have sprung up in cities and towns all over the country, and Worcester, MA is no exception. Worcester saw its first General Aseembly on October 9th, and in the nearly two months of occupation they have had more than their fair share of trouble.
Thus far, Occupy Worcester has dealt with meddling bureaucrats, snowstorms, two evictions, and more than twenty arrests. The movement’s harried life has forced occupiers to focus on ensuring that it has a future, instead of actively advancing their political goals “I have noticed that some people feel the group is on the defensive,” said occupier Jon Noble of the mood in camp following the several evictions Occupy Worcester has faced.
Occupy Worcester began with a GA on the Common right across from City Hall, and there it made its first encampment. The police ousted the occupiers several days later, on the grounds that public parks in Worcester close at 10 PM. They then moved to Quinsigamond Lake Park, where they weathered the October snowstorm. However, since the new camp was on private land whose owners were increasingly uninterested in having an occupation in their park, they were forced to seek another place to stay.
Many voices in the camp wanted to move back to the Common where the movement had begun. On November 7th they held a GA on the Common that attracted over a hundred people, including Worcester Mayor Joe O’Brien. According to a press release from the movement’s website, O’Brien expressed his support for the movement, but warned that it was the intention of the police to arrest anyone who stayed in the park after 10 PM.
In true Occupy fashion, the GA decided to take the park anyway. They began arriving the next evening: crowds of dozens swelled to hundreds over the coming hours, the media converged, and tents were pitched. The police arrived shortly after 10 PM and blockaded the surrounding area. According to the same press release, 17 occupiers who refused to leave were arrested, as well as three others who had not been occupying the park.
With the campaign to take back the Common lost, Occupy Worcester decided to take Lincoln Square, which sits at the intersection of of Route 9, Route 70, and several other major roads through Worcester. Though the square could not accommodate tents, it served as a visible base of operations for the movement. But even though there were occupiers pacing the sidewalk with signs at all hours of the day, Lincoln Square was not a home for the movement until the owners of the nearby abandoned Vocational High School agreed to allow the movement to use their parking lot.
During GA on November 29th, the news came that the board of directors that oversaw the high school would be accepting tenants into the building soon, and so the occupiers would have to leave. They have yet to decide where to go next.
Some members of Occupy Worcester believe that because of the frequent evictions taking up a great deal of the camp’s energy, focus has moved more towards the continued existence of the camp than the purposes for which it was founded. “I personally hope that there are more proposals for direct actions soon,” said Noble, who was brought into the movement after joining one of its marches. “I think one of the big concerns right now is numbers, there have been more of us in the past.”