The Occupy Boston protest camp in Dewey Square marked its first month yesterday, a day after a bitter Nor’easter lashed the encampment with sheets of rain and a coating of snow. This much I’ve figured out: Protest for these folks is serious business.
We got a taste of just how serious this weekend when a nasty Nor’Easter storm knocked down trees and power lines in our town, Lexington, and gave us a really tiny taste of what these campers endure daily to fight for their cause. We, after all, had a roof over our heads, flush toilets, cold running water and a fireplace to huddle around. Even so, below-normal temperatures reminded us that it gets cold when the mercury drops to the high 20s as it did this morning. And cold is fatiguing.
So put yourself in the shoes of the 200 to 300 Occupiers living in Dewey Square. Most swear they’re staying for the winter. They’re getting warmer clothes and sleeping bags and winterizing tents. But cold is cold, snow is wet, and winter wind cuts through everything. So unless their determination is pure bravado, you’ve got to hand it to these folks. Some have no place to go; they are homeless. But many do and are choosing to fight on for their cause, even as bystanders chide them for being too vague in their demands, too disorganized to make a difference.
I suspect, by focusing the news media on the remarkable gains in wealth the “1 percent” have enjoyed in the last decade or so, the occupiers already have influenced both debate and perception. Whether that turns to action or votes remains to be seen.
Admiration aside, I’m not about to pitch my tent across from South Station. No, I’ll grab a shower at my cousin’s house and hunker down for another night or two of indoor cold. But as I lie beneath the sheets with wool hat and down vest, I’ll do so with a newfound respect for those who’ve stayed put at Dewey Square in Boston, Zuccotti Square in New York and other squares across the country.
Their protest is no party. It’s a long-distance race, one that will slog through a lot colder weather before, I suspect, it gathers steam again come spring.