Here in the Boston area today, we’re waiting on word whether a Superior Court judge will lift a two-week-old restraining order that blocks the city from clearing out Occupy Boston on Dewey Square, a small patch of grass across the street from the Federal Reserve building.
Wired Magazine’s Quinn Norton has a strong story on the Dewey Square camp, focusing on how the protesters have increasingly taken on the role of caregivers for some of the city’s homeless and at-risk populations:
Occupy Boston is forced to deal head-on with Boston’s neglected addicts. They drift into the camp past indifferent Boston PD, even while the Occupy’s safety volunteers plead with police to do something about obvious drug use going on in front of them.
Boston is a town so plagued with an unacknowledged drug problem that a mayor’s aide was caught selling Oxycontin, only to be given probation. The Boston PD may be indifferent by habit, but the occupiers have no choice but to confront what the city has failed to deal with. The volunteer medical staff counsels and treats the addicts drawn to the open and generous environment, getting them into rehab, then getting them in again after they run away from rehab and return to the Occupy — all watched by a constant police presence.
After repeated visits to the encampment, I’m not sure what to make of Occupy Boston. I’m not sure the protesters there are organized well enough to promote some of the changes they’re talking about.
But because of that camp’s existence, the protesters are highlighting an inconvenient reality of our society - our out-of-sight-out-of-mind treatment of those living with substance abuse problems or mental illness - and also choose to do something about it.
Hopefully, Occupy Boston’s work with people many of us would like to ignore - and their collective kick in our complacency - will continue long after the last tent is pulled down in Dewey Square.