"Occupy Boston" protesters were , but, despite the openly stated intentions of protestors to only passively resist their evacuation, a number of officers were seen using what appeared to be excessive force against them.
As activists locked arms in a show of peaceful civil disobedience, officers dressed in all-black quickly surrounded, slowly pushed and - some, but not all - employed aggressive physical force. As the effort to remove protesters continued, some became less passive, yelling at police and resisting their evacuation.
The police action came at the group's second tent city on the Rose Kennedy Greenway where park patrons had recently spent $150,000 to spruce it up, according to a report in the Boston Herald. Mayor Menino had asked the group to leave the area by midnight and police moved in about 1:30 a.m.
Officers were seen arbitrarily assaulting non-threatening bystanders and using force on subjects clearly complying with their evacuation orders.
'We All Fell On top Of Each Other'
Protestors said they had expected arrests, but not with the degree of force displayed by some of the officers.
“I was just standing there – peacefully – with everyone else, just standing,” Bill Frank, a Jamaica Plain-based activist, said. “And they come up – big, big people come up – push you right in the face, and we all fell on top of each other.”
Frank said he stayed still as he and about 15 other protestors were “pig-piled” onto one another, and managed to slip away by remaining still and inconspicuous.
“There were grabbing people by their handkerchiefs and shirts, tearing their shirts, grabbing people by their neck, choke-slamming people to the ground and stepping on people,” he said.
In one incident, an officer was observed pushing a non-resistant female into some bushes near a ledge approximately 4 feet off the ground.
When a bystander tried to help her to her feet and leave the scene, the officer then gave him a hard push off the ledge - onto this reporter and two other bystanders, who happened to catch him as he fell headfirst toward the concrete.
Another officer was observed telling an activist to "get the (expletive) out of my face" after giving him a hard push.
The number of arrested remained unclear Tuesday morning. Activists said about 100 had been arrested, though later news reports and Twitter chatter suggests the number may be closer to 50.
Police Issued Warnings
A police spokesman was not immediately available for comment early Tuesday morning. However, Boston police released this statement on Monday night:
"Protestors have been asked to return to their original camp site on the Greenway and leave the area of the Greenway by Pearl Street where they expanded to earlier today....We have been communicating that request to protestors in various ways including in person, Twitter and flyers."
Malden Residents Vow To Continue Protesting
“I think it's very dangerous what they are doing tonight,” Malden resident Adam Lucia said before the police raid. “There's a want for more action...(but) I think it could actually sink everything that's going on.”
Still, Lucia and fellow Maldonian Brian Wills said they would continue coming to the protests, despite their objections to some tactics. Both said they would not be resisting the evacuation.
“I hope that if they stay here long enough, there will be some kind of movement to come out of this,” he said. “Some inertia.”
The original encampment at Dewey Square, just a block away from where the arrests were made on the Greenway, remains in tact this morning.
As of 7 a.m. Tuesday, both "Boston PD" and its related hashtag, "#bpd", were the fourth and fifth most trending Twitter topics in the United States.