Occupy Harvard puts ironic spin on protest against the elite

Pitching protest in Harvard Yard means hoi polloi aren't admitted after dark

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The leaderless, hyper-local, democracy-by-consensus approach of the Occupy movement means the makeup, attitudes and behavior of those Occupying Wall Street is far different from those Occupying Oakland, or Occupying Boston, let alone Occupying Albuquerque.

The differences aren't purposeful. They depend entirely on the perceptions and decisions of those making up each local movement.

OccupyHarvard, for example, is much different in character than other Occupations because it was organized and comprised first of students at Harvard.

Orgnizers make clear the whole Occupation is open to non-Harvard students, non-students and anyone else who would like to join either the protest or the discussions.

There is still something distinctly Harvard crimson about it, though.

In most places organizers have to struggle to find space for tents and people and are often in constant negotiations with city officials about where they can camp, in what numbers and under what conditions.

The most violent confrontations at both OccupyOakland and OccupyBoston were set off largely, if not entirely, by efforts by the police to move or limit the public space being Occupied.

During the Movement's birth in New York, the Occupy Wall Street crowd were almost driven from the streets the first few nights by crews of New York's Finest charged with making sure no one set up camp in public parks, squares or other spaces.

Occupiers had to break up into smaller groups – often nano-marches of one or two rebels that could pass as pedestrians – Occupying individual streetcorners, park benches or other mini refuges.

Even in privately owned Zucotti Park, where the Occupation quickly settled because its non-public status limited the protest-herding efforts of the city. Occupiers still face periodic tent pogroms by police sent to make sure the tarps and blankets covering what equipment the Occupiers use aren't clandestine, illegal artificial shelters they can sleep in at night.

By contrast, OccupyHarvard have centered the protest in Harvard Yard – the grassy, traffic-free oasis in the center of urban Cambridge that is the symbolic heart of Harvard, though not the logistical center of a university that has metastasized into real-estate holdings and campuses throughout Cambridge and Boston.

The nation's oldest, richest university didn't make it easy for the Occupation to get in to Harvard, however.

Beautiful by day, barrier by night

The brick walls and ironwork gates that are picturesque architecture during the day are locked barriers after 7 p.m. – guarded by Harvard Police who allow entry only to those with valid Harvard IDs.

Photo Credit: 

Reuters/Brian Snyder

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