Editor’s note: Following the arrest of 141 protesters on the Rose Kennedy Greenway just after midnight on Tuesday, the Boston Police released the following statement.
Since October 1, 2011 the Boston Police Department has been working closely with the leadership of Occupy Boston to accommodate their request for peaceful demonstration. The City of Boston, at the request of the organizers, designated the area of Dewey Square on the Greenway where protestors have been provided the opportunity to create an encampment and protest peacefully.
On October 10, 2011, protestors expanded the camp site to a second location that had not been previously approved. Several reasons required police to request that protestors return to the original agreed upon site.
Occupying a second area of the Greenway near Pearl Street created an increased public safety concern.
The site of the 2nd encampment on the Greenway (near Pearl Street) had recently undergone a costly renovation by the Greenway Conservancy to improve the green space. The protestors’ presence on that space created a concern for potential property damage.
The attempt of the protestors to occupy the Washington Street Bridge was executed without discussion and prior agreement with police. That action and breakdown of communication created a scenario which became a serious public safety hazard and compromised the BPD’s ability to ensure public order and a safe environment.
Boston Police communicated to protestors the request to vacate the second encampment and return to the original site numerous times throughout the evening via Twitter, flyers and in person. The required police action resulted in the arrest of 141 individuals who were charged with Unlawful Assembly or Trespassing. Some time after 1:00am on 10/11/11, Boston Police declared ‘Unlawful Assembly’ in the area of the second site.
As a result of an existing city ordinance that forbids sleeping in a city park between 11:00pm and 7:00am, officers had the authority to arrest for Trespassing and Unlawful Assembly.
Although our officers faced active resistance from protestors including being spit on, our officers maintained a respectful, professional and proportional posture. If any individual experienced a concern about their interaction with an officer that individual is encourage to come forward and report that information to the department. At this time, we have not received any such complaints.
The Boston Police Department is committed to protecting one’s right of peaceful protest. The Boston Police Department is also committed to ensure everyone’s safety. We continue to encourage the leadership of Occupy Boston to maintain an open dialogue with authorities in the spirit of coordination and cooperation.