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Reports and reactions on Occupy Boston

Globe reporters are tracking developments of Occupy Boston in Dewey Square. Mayor Thomas M. Menino gave the protesters a midnight deadline to pack up or face “further action” from the city.

Photo by Martine Powers

3:42: Police Superintendent Evans said that police now hope that the remaining demonstrators will leave the camp voluntarily to end on “a high note.” About 200 demonstrators remained in the camp early this morning.

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3:20 a.m.: Live Occupy Boston stream shows officers remove one handcuffed protester from the tent, then a second one, then place them both in the police wagon. Crowd heckles officers.

3:07 a.m.: About two dozen police surround remaining protesters and lone tent on Atlantic. Police wagon en route, according to scanner chatter.

3:03 a.m.: All but a handful of protesters pull back from Atlantic Avenue to Dewey Square. It seems the stragglers wish to be arrested. One tent remains blocking the street, with two demonstrators inside.

2:44 a.m.: The drummers continue to drum, but the crowd has thinned out to several hundred people, John Guilfoil reports. At some point this morning, police are likely to clear Atlantic Avenue to make way for the morning commute.

2:17: The scene takes a Felliniesque turn: A man in a green bodysuit is doing a handstand, the Globe’s Jeremy C. Fox says.

1:56 a.m.: Some Occupy Boston supporters see police decision not to clear the camp early today as a victory for their cause. @dioneR: We have won. The police won’t move #occuyboston tonight with @AmandaLarmand.

1:48 a.m.: Demonstrators defiantly chanting, “Whose streets? Our streets!” Jeremy C. Fox (@jeremycfox) says.

1:37 a.m.: Traffic has been rerouted from Atlantic Avenue after several tents were moved onto the road. Police Superintendent William Evans said the tents would be dealt with “in due time,” the Globe’s Travis Andersen (@TAglobe) reports.

1:25 a.m.: Protesters are signing the white lines on Atlantic Avenue with permanent marker, Martine Powers reports. The street remains closed, but the crowd is shrinking.

1:12 a.m.: Police Superintendent Evans said police will not clear the crowd tonight, John Guilfoil reports from Dewey Square. The crowd reacted in celebration.

12:49 a.m.: Protesters moved from the sidewalk into Atlantic Avenue, filling the lanes and stopping traffic. People carrying Veterans for Peace flags joined them there, and some people sat on the pavement. “Dewey Square has emptied into the streets,” John Guilfoil writes on Twitter (@globe_guilfoil). The police are closing the street rather than forcing protesters to move.

12:31 a.m.: One protester got some help from others at Occupy Boston to pop the question. He mic-checked his wedding proposal, the Boston Phoenix reports.

12:21 a.m.: Protesters are organizing into a human chain in Dewey Square, some with handkerchiefs covering their nose and mouth. Others are overflowing into the streets, slowing and sometimes stopping traffic, as officers on foot tried to clear the way.

12:04 a.m.: The crowd is chanting, “We are the 99 percent, and so are you.”

11:56 p.m.: The Gandhi statue has not left the camp. The crowd chanted, “The people united will never be defeated.”

11:50 p.m.: The crowd is packed into Dewey Square “almost from end to end,” one protester said over the live stream. In the latest “mic check,” the message was simple: “Ten minutes.”

11:42 p.m.: The energy is building as midnight approaches. Protesters were chanting: “We are the 99 percent.” As many as 700 people, maybe more, are packing the square.

Photo by John Guilfoil

11:35 p.m.: A group of Quakers have joined the protest, quietly, John Guilfoil reports.

In another corner, the band was just interrupted for delivery of this message:

“If you are willing to risk arrest, if you are willing to be part of the human chain, there is a meeting right now at the center of camp where the food tent used to be. If you’re interested, please go there. If you’re not able to be arrested there’s another planning meeting on the far end in front of the building where the [general assemblies] are. Please head there, and keep having fun.”

11:19 p.m.: Martine Powers reports that some portion of the crowd has come to a consensus decision about having a defense of the square at the center of the camp. Those who don’t want to be arrested will gather across the street in solidarity.

11:14 p.m.: Occupy Boston is packing up its 9-foot statue of Gandhi, donated by the Peace Abbey in Sherborn.

“We’re glad he’s going, and he’s not going to get trampled by the police,” organizer Ryan Cahill said on the live stream.

11:02 p.m.: Two helicopters are circling over Dewey Square, possibly news choppers. There’s one hour left before the mayor’s deadline, and little sign of police movement. Protesters are debating amongst themselves about whether and how to hold their ground.

“The trains are still running if you want to come down, if you’re in the area,” organizer Ryan Cahill said over the Occupy Boston live stream.

10:38 p.m.: While some protesters are listening to the lawyers’ presentation, many are creating barricades with cloth banners or dancing to the brass band. Catch that band on the live stream right now. It’s a happy scene. Among the tunes they’re playing is “Which Side Are You On?”

“A lot of people are kind of milling around,” Martine Powers reports. The crowd “has fractured into confused but excited chaos.”

She said there are more cops in the square than usual. But there are more people than usual there, too. No sign of any kind mobilization from the Boston Police Department so far.

Photo by John Guilfoil

10:13 p.m.: John Guilfoil of the Globe reports that the crowd is “fracturing” and tensions are high. Some people are putting up barricades. Others are tearing them down, he said. Meanwhile, a brass band readies the crowd for a dance party, after all.

10:03 p.m: Masny-Latos of the National Lawyers Group urged people to take notes if they see police misconduct and to report to legal observers wearing special hats.

“We are all together in this,” she said.

Speakers are explaining what protesters can expect if arrested.

9:56 p.m.: The “defend the camp” proposal was withdrawn so that the lawyers group can use the microphone for their workshop on civil disobedience. That means the camp has no official plan for the night. The mayor’s deadline is two hours away.

“If you would like to march instead of stand on the side, please march,” said protester Brian, as he withdrew that plan. “If you would like to dance over there instead of getting arrested, just dance, and leave when the 1 percent tells you to.”

9:51 p.m.: Protesters are now considering a proposal to “defend the camp.” Meanwhile, the National Lawyers Guild is starting workshops around civil disobedience and protesters’ rights. Time is ticking.

9:47 p.m.: A protester near tears said Occupy Boston should not bow to the city by clearing out their tents and belongings.

“I am not here to clean up for the city,” she said.

The crowd voted by a show of hands to block the clean-up-and-dance plan. The man who proposed it started shouting about how it is in no one’s interest to create a public health hazard for the city. Tension builds as facilitators try to get things under control again.

9:42 p.m.: The dance party plan is moving to a vote. This is no yay-or-nay voting process. There are multiple steps. Stay tuned. Four people have moved to block the vote.

9:33 p.m.: The facilitator told the crowd someone reported seeing “a huge stack of barricades in Chinatown.”

“So, game on,” she said.

9:30 p.m.: Dance to 11:30 p.m. then defend the camp, one protester suggested. Another said, “It would be wiser to link arms, but at the same time I think it would be interesting to sing.” Still another questioned what dancing will say about the movement.

9:22 p.m.: “We can dance if we want to,” a protester said.

9:20 p.m.: A protester just made this point: The occupiers broke down much of the camp this afternoon while their lawyers asked city officials for more time to clear out. The city denied it, despite the protesters’ efforts, and held fast to the midnight deadline.

9:10 p.m.: One protester said she is concerned that the night is being cast as a “voluntary dispersal.”

“It is not,” she said. “We are getting kicked out by the city.”

Others said a dance party would show that the protesters have joy in the face of adversity and that they can take the high road. One woman said she thinks the actions of the mayor and the police are stupid.

“What’s better to show someone they’re stupid than to dance and to laugh while they are arresting us?” she said.

9:01 p.m.: During discussion, one protester said, “The mayor has been informed that most of us intend to move out voluntarily by Sunday at the latest.”

Another argued that the consensus process, a foundation of the Occupy movement, is wasting “precious time.”

Others said that this is not the time for celebration but for resistance. The debate seems to be, defend or dance?

Time check: Three hours to the mayor’s deadline.

8:53 p.m.: The protesters have deliberated. They’re now considering their options for the night. First up is to clean the field and hold “a huge open-access dance party.” One protester asked, is the proposal intended to make arrest more fun? The facilitator stepped in as things get testy and asked for “a universal sigh” to regroup.

8:11 p.m.: Protesters are hearing proposals about how to continue Occupy Boston. Among them are plans to bring a teepee to Dewey Square that will fit 40 people, to one plant a flag in the grass for each protester, and to create a nomadic Occupy movement that will take up temporary residence, with permission, in the Boston Public Library, the Old South Meeting House, and the Boston Globe. Also: Occupy five foreclosed homes in the city before the end of the night.

7:55 p.m.: Representatives of Occupy Harvard and Ocupemos el Barrio, launched in East Boston, are also on site. The crowd is growing.

7:47 p.m.: The organizer of the Occupy Boston live stream estimated that more than 1,000 people are watching online. Crowd just said, “Hello, internet!”

7:42 p.m.: Representatives of Occupy Worcester are on site, and one said Boston protesters have a home there.

7:38 p.m.: Another attorney from the National Lawyers Guild told the crowd that appealing the Suffolk Superior Court decision could take between 30 days and a year.

But, he said, “nothing that the lawyers can do would stop the police from coming in and clearing out Occupy Boston.”

He said lawyers representing the protesters have been negotiating with the city’s attorney and with the police, “asking them to please give more time for Occupy Boston to make a decision about what to do.”

“Basically we’ve been told, ‘Forget it,’” he said. “The deadline is midnight tonight.”

Another organizer said there will be a longer-term planning meeting Sunday.

7:21 p.m.: Organizers told a crowd of about 400 people that they plan to meet tomorrow morning at 8 a.m. in Dewey Square to march to court in support of any protesters who are arrested tonight.

If they can’t return to Dewey Square, one organizer said they will gather tomorrow night at 7 p.m. at the bandstand in Boston Common.

7:10 p.m.: Protesters will break into groups for training on civil disobedience or to become legal observers.

“If there are arrests, people should not panic,” said Urszula Masny-Latos, executive director of the National Lawyers Guild Northeast office. “We all know what is happening. We will have 20 to 25 legal observers here... If you are arrested and taken to a holding facility. Don’t panic.”

She provided protesters with the guild’s number and directed them to write it on their body in case their possessions are confiscated.

“Everything will be covered when it comes to (the) legal side of it,” she said.

Occupy Boston protesters also spoke about efforts to move and organize the remaining signs and camp materials.

“If we lose Dewey Square we’re not going away,” one said.

Another, who was in charge of facilities, suggested that protesters completely clean the square before midnight and “be the first Occupy to just phoof! and be gone like a gypsy squad.”

But not before having a dance party on site, he said.

Staff from the Boston Public Health Commission are in Dewey Square helping to get people to homeless shelters as needed. Pine Street Inn also will have a van available at 8 p.m. One Occupy organizer said, however, that some of the homeless people in the square likely will go back to the streets.

6:59 p.m.: Occupy Boston is streaming live video from Dewey Square. Overheard just now: “Over there? They’re doing civil disobedience training.”

Photo by Martine Powers

6:54 p.m.: People are gathering in Dewey Square, where about half the tents that were there this morning are now gone. Protesters have projected a message on the side of a building: “You can’t evict an idea.”

It will be a chilly night for a protest. The temperatures are expected to drop to the low 30s, with wind gusting up to 20 miles per hour. The current temperature at Logan International Airport, just across the harbor from the encampment, is 40 degrees.

6:20 p.m.:Twitter is buzzing with people headed to Dewey Square or enlisting others to join them there. “En route to #occupyboston armored in warm layers,” @genemachine of Boston writes. “Seriously, 6 layers which include two thermals.”

5:45 p.m.: News crews line the sidewalks around Dewey Square.

5:38 p.m.: Boston police have set up all around Dewey Square, with blue lights visible in every direction, John Guilfoil reports. It has been quiet, however, with no altercations between police and protesters.

At least some protesters who continued to pack up their belongings said they planned to relocated to Boston Common or elsewhere in the city.

5:25 p.m.: Martine Powers talked with Occupy Boston protester Bil Lewis, a 59-year-old teacher from Cambridge. He signed up to take in people at the camp who have no where to go tonight. Lewis said he had done this one before, offering fellow protesters who are homeless a place to shower and sleep in a warm bed.

“I suspect all people here who are homeless who have been involved (in Occupy Boston) will be just fine,” he said.

Vans were also available earlier this evening to take homeless people in Dewey Square to shelters.

5:17 p.m.: Akilah Johnson reports that the Boston Police Department was pinning notices on remaining tents in Dewey Square and handing them to protestors. (Follow her updates at @akjohnson1922.)

One side of the handout included a notice of trespass stating that no one may remain on the property between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. It also warned that those remaining past midnight may be subject to criminal prosecution.

The other side included some guidelines for protesters -- “Respect police instructions” and “don’t engage in negative behavior” -- and a list of what they can expect from police. It said the police will arrest those in violation of the law, use video cameras to capture individuals “engaging in disorder,” and “conduct themselves in a professional, respectful, and proportional manner.”

5:02 p.m.: Senator Scott Brown sent this reaction by e-mail:

“I respect the right of people to protest, but we are a nation of laws and there is no right to indefinitely and illegally occupy public grounds at the expense of everyone else. Mayor Menino and city officials have been more than tolerant in allowing the protesters prolonged use of this space, day and night, without a permit.

Now, the time has come for the encampment to end peacefully. Protesters can continue to express their First Amendment rights, but they are not immune to the laws that apply to the rest of us.”

And there’s more from city councilors.

Councilor Michael P. Ross called Occupy Boston “an important movement that highlights the struggle of working people in America.”

“I call upon the demonstrators and our police to resist any provocation or violent clashes at all costs and to honor our city’s history of peaceful expressions of free speech,” he said.

Saying the court was clear that free speech doesn’t entitle protesters to permanent encampment, Councilor Robert Consalvo said the city is right to require them to pack up is appropriate.

“We as a city can demonstrate the whole thing can be done peacefully,” he said.

Councilor Tito Jackson said hoped for a peaceful night, too. He said it was clear that the movement Occupy Boston started is not over.

“They’ve successfully occupied our minds, occupied our hearts, and created a verb out of this movement,” he said.

4:45 p.m.: City Council President Stephen Murphy said Menino was “acting in the best interest of the Boston taxpayers” by pushing protesters to leave Dewey Square.

“I think they’ve over stayed their welcome frankly, they should have been gone a month ago,” he said. “The mayor and the city have been much more tolerant than every other city in the country. A lot of people get the point and agree with it but there’s nothing that’s going to come of it by them staying later.”

Murphy said the protesters were violating the law and costing the city money. While he is sympathetic with their goals, he said, “they have no right to squat on public park land.”

4:35 p.m.: Asked for his reaction to the mayor’s deadline, Councilman Bill Linehan declined to comment.

“I haven’t weighed in at all, and I don’t really want to do it at this time,” he said.

Councilman Sal LaMattina said he’s been “following the mayor’s lead” on this issue and he thinks the protesters should do the same.

“The mayor has been fair with them, allowing them to stay there,” he said. “They should follow the mayor’s orders.... If they want a permit to demonstrate, they should go to permit office.”

Wayne Mathews/Photo by Martine Powers

4:07 p.m.: Wayne Mathews, 36, brought a message to the Occupy Boston protesters: “Your protest has ruined this park for everyone else. Thanks.”

No matter whether Occupy Boston clears out this evening, when they’re gone, there will be cleanup to do in the section of the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway that protesters have occupied since September. That’s not a point that’s lost on them. About $3,000 has been raised through a WePay site started by protesters in October to re-sod the grass.

3:47 p.m.: Barbara Trevisan, spokeswoman for the Pine Street Inn, said the Harrison Avenue shelter is ready to help people at the Occupy Boston camp who are homeless with no where to go tonight. She emphasized that people who can stay with family or friends should. Tonight is likely to be a busy one at the shelter, as temperatures are expected to drop into the low 30s.

Trevisan said the shelter’s outreach staff will be in contact with protesters or city officials.

“We’re kind of on alert and on call if there is a need,” Trevisan said.

Organizers of the medic tent in Dewey Square are working to connect the people who need it with a place to sleep tonight, as well.

3:20 p.m.: While about three-quarters of all tents remain up in Dewey Square, all of the camp’s community tents, used to coordinated medical needs, food, logistics, and media, are down or in the process of being taken down.

“People are sad to go,” Globe reporter Martine Powers reports from the square. “A lot of people have told me that they came here and didn’t really know anyone and, through their time here, have gotten to know people and made relationships.”

Powers said moving trucks were expected to arrive around 4 p.m. but the protesters had not yet worked out where they would take their things to be stored.

2:57 p.m.: Reaction on Twitter to the mayor’s deadline is a mix of statements of solidarity from across the country and comments from people happy to see the square cleared.

AJ Farkas, (@AJFarkas) a filmaker from Cambridge, writes on Twitter, “Please, come support #occupyboston tonight. If u can’t be arrested, bring lights so the world can see US democracy.”

Kimberley Ring, (@RingPRgirl) a public relations specialist from Boston, offers this plea: “Dear #OccupyBoston: Go home. Get some rest. Make a plan for your life. Change that plan when necessary. It’s what the rest of us do.”

2:35 p.m.: Martine Powers reports from Dewey Square that protesters are dismantling the camp’s giant food tent.

2:30 p.m.: Globe reporters Martine Powers and Martin Finucane have been following the activity in Dewey Square today. See the full story here. Follow @MartinePowers and @StephanieEbbert for moment-to-moment updates. Some background:

A Suffolk Superior Court judge on Wednesday declined to issue a preliminary injunction protecting the protesters from eviction, saying their occupation of the square wasn’t protected by the First Amendment.

Up until Wednesday, the city had said it had no plans to move against the encampment, one of a series of protests nationwide on social and economic inequality. On Wednesday, after the judge’s decision, Menino strongly encouraged the protesters to leave.

“It’s apparent that the mayor used silence as a tactic to win the court case by saying all week that he had no plans to shut us down,” said John Ford, Plymouth, 30, the librarian at the protesters’ camp.

Chelsea Conaboy can be reached at cconaboy@boston.com. Follow her on Twitter @cconaboy.
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