Anytime there is a large enough crowd of people protesting long enough or in large enough numbers for the media to take more than a passing notice of, there is always pundits who criticize the protesters for not taking part in the electoral process.
It doesn’t matter that many who do protest also actually vote, nor does it manner that direct action can be more effective than the ballot box, there’s always a compulsion/borderline-addiction among those in the media to focus all of their coverage on what the protesters are doing wrong – which has been Fox 25 and the Boston Herald’s MO from the first day of Occupy Boston.
Bullshit aside, I figured it couldn’t hurt for the protesters who are registered Boston voters to know which At-Large City Council candidates are sympathetic to the cause and which ones are just half-assing a show of support because they’re too wimpy to come out against them.
Sean Ryan was the only candidate willing to offer any discussion on the campaign at Dewey Square, when directly contacted through email.
When contacted over a week ago, Ryan had already visited the encampment multiple times. It should be no secret to anyone who has paid any attention to Ryan’s previous Boston campaigns, that despite his voter registration status, he is ideologically a Libertarian.
Marxists protesting Bank of America?!
This shows when he discusses ending the War on Drugs in regards to crime impacts as well as practically any time he speak about anything of an economic nature, as his views predictably lean towards deregulation.
“Although the Boston group has (as far as I know) not yet drafted a specific list of demands, the platform of the NY protesters is philosophically inconsistent, as it demands that banks stop using government power for their own personal gain, and at the same time demands that government use its power to give “the 99%” all sorts of stuff to which they feel they are entitled,” he wrote via email. “The protesters lack a clear philosophy, and their platform suffers because of this. It isn’t enough to say wealth disparities are egregious and unjust. They are. But most of the worst shocks to our economy can be traced directly back to the Fed and the U.S. government, which created conditions of which Wall St could take advantage.”
He also praised the police for not using excessive force, as if we should pat our local officers on the back when they decide to not beat the shit out of someone.
“I witnessed the entire police operation on the night of the arrests, and was glad to see that the officers in charge were ones that I know to be calm and genial personalities. I think Commissioner [Ed] Davis did a good job, and that the police did not use excessive force,” Ryan wrote. “I believe that the protesters erred in courting arrest. Without a clearly defined grievance or cause, they accomplished nothing through their acts of civil disobedience. Their actions were effective, however, in reminding folks that all activities of government are ultimately backed by the police power.”
That being said, Ryan has consistently spoken positively of the protesters.
“I met a lot of great and interesting people,” he wrote of an earlier visit to the encampment. “It’s a youngish crowd, leans to the left politically, and is full of people with various axes to grind with the government and the economic system. Most also have other issues they feel strongly about, such as the wars. Knowingly or not, they have picked an appropriate location for their protest, since the Federal Reserve is the bailout back-stopper of Wall St and the enabler of some of Wall St’s more egregious practices.”
For what it’s worth, while I happen to have substantially different political views than Ryan, at least he’s willing have the conversation.
It was easy enough for most candidates to simply offer a half-hearted show of support for the protesters while still making their pleas to “keep things peaceful,” in case the candidates need an excuse to decry the protests further down the line while still saving face.
“I support them and I hope they continue to demonstrate peacefully and know that if they don’t the costs will be borne by the resident taxpayers of Boston and not the corporations,” wrote Michael Flaherty in response to my email query.
Later on at one of the many candidates’ forums that have taken place in the last couple of months, Flaherty continued to pay lip service, while still leaving room for his true expectations to slip through.
“My position is that if we can keep the demonstrations peaceful and if they do not go out and destroy city property or prevent emergency services, is that my position is that men and women are overseas to preserves their right to do that. I appreciate that,” he said, reportedly. “I sympathize with the demonstrators and I believe in the message. As long as they’re peaceful they’re welcome in our city.”
I have to give credit to Felix Arroyo for having the testicular fortitude to take an actual stance on the protests and taking the effort to actually listen to what they have to say.
“I very much support the message of what’s going on in Dewey Square,” he said, reportedly. “The message is that something’s got to give. We’re losing the middle class in this country. You want to be able to take care of yourself and your family and you want to believe that your family or your children will have better opportunities than you did.”
Arroyo has been attempting to change which banks the city of Boston supports with deposits, by amending the city law that governs how the city handles its own money and what considerations there are when determined which banks in which to deposit.
“I’m working now on something that would force banks to tell us what they’re doing with our money,” he said. ”The banks that invest the most in our city, will get the most of our money. If I was a billionaire, I would not invest in a bank that was not working in our interest, so why should we.”
Arroyo also showed his support of the protesters when he called out Council President Steve Murphy after he began spouting leaked information – most likely from within the police department – that proved to be bullshit.
A couple of weeks ago, Steve Murphy spoke out in an interview with Fox25 that the protestors would likely cost the city up to $2 million in overtime pay for police officers in the month of October alone. He claimed this number came from Boston police brass, which probably means the cops decided to leak some bogus information to the biggest gossip on the Council.
Murphy – who is essentially the Droopy Dog of the Council – took the bait and immediately raising the specter of school closures and cuts to city services with the subtlety of a fedora with a giant rubber dong attached to the top of it.
We're gonna run out of money because those darn protestors.
Almost immediately, the media relations department for Boston Police was inundated with Freedom of Information Act requests. Shortly after, the Police released the information that two weeks into October, the city’s police overtime bill was $146,000. That doesn’t look too bad, considering the fact that the city budgets $30 million annually for police overtime pay.
Even before the rule overtime figure was released, Arroyo spoke out two weeks ago in response to Murphy’s claim, arguing that Occupy Boston was protesting conditions which have and will continue to cost the residents of Boston in far greater capacities than an overtime bill could.
“The question is, though, what the cost is to the city if we don’t change our economic practices now, what is the cost then and that’s the lens I hope we [use to] look at this, to say what is the cost to all of us if we continue on this track, if we continue on the track where the 99 percent of the population is essentially struggling and 1 percent has all of our wealth,” he said, at a union rally in support of Occupy Boston.
Murphy has since backed down from his criticism and now offers the standard half-assed fake support shared by fellow candidate Michael Flaherty.
Will Dorcena also did not get back to me about his thoughts on Occupy Boston, but he has visited the site, and whether or not his reasoning has any connection to the protests, he has spoken favorably about Arroyo’s efforts.
“If the city is putting money in a bank, we should make sure that that bank is lending its money to small businesses,” he said, reportedly.
John Connolly, who is among the candidates expected to easily win reelection, has been in no rush to make any public statements about Occupy Boston.
“I haven’t visited the camp yet, but I’ve been reading a lot on OB [Occupy Boston],” wrote John Connolly. “I’m out until about 11 p.m. tonight and a pretty full campaign schedule tomorrow, but I’ll try to email you some thoughts ASAP.”
That was two weeks ago, and I’m still waiting for his response.
Ayanna Pressley also never bothered to answer my email query.
I’m not sure if she has visited the encampment, but it was anything like many of her other public appearances, she probably stuck around just long enough to be photographed, while taking great effort to minimize the amount of interaction she has with the crowd.