[WARNING: The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the entire Clean Up BPPA campaign. That’s a really diverse group of individuals, of which I am only one.]
It’s probably clear to anyone who follows the Occupy movement that the relationship between occupiers and police is a tricky one. I can only speak for myself, but the way I feel about the relationship between Occupy Boston and the Boston Police Department is that it’s “awkward.” On the whole, we certainly haven’t had it as bad as other cities have. I disagreed (and still do) with the city’s decision to evict our occupation of Dewey Square, but an hour before they cleared our camp, I watched the Boston Police Department swiftly and professionally apprehend and arrest a man who struck me in the face and stole my phone. The latter act doesn’t excuse the former; rather, it’s evidence of how complicated all of this is. In my view, the Boston Police Department aren’t wearing black hats in contrast to our white ones. It isn’t that easy.
On March 20th a group of Occupy Boston women called an impromptu march in response to the abuse of women by NYPD officers at the March 17th march and Zuccotti Park reoccupation attempt. We had held a march a few nights before, and our relationship with the BPD officers who’d been assigned to our march was the same as it had typically been: we didn’t interact much, but when we did, it was professional (“Don’t open that tent in this park”), cordial (“Hello so-and-so, it’s been awhile, hasn’t it?”), or a mix of the two.
March 20th was an anomaly of an evening. That was our introduction to an officer that we grew to know as “1101,” as that was his badge number. Very few officers had ever interacted with us other than to answer questions, give orders, or exchange pleasantries. 1101 was, in internet speak, a troll. He wasn’t an epic troll, as his trolling wasn’t particularly clever or unique. It was just weird. He kept yelling at us and speaking to us, telling us to go back to Brookline and Cambridge, even though very few of us live there. He yelled at one female occupier to get a job and pay taxes; her response was literally to rattle off her 2011 tax returns, but he continued to yell at her to pay her taxes. He told one woman to get a job; she told him that she has a job. His response to her was something along the lines of, “you need a husband to keep you in line.” He told a queer female marcher to go back to Cambridge. She jokingly replied that since she’s a gay woman, she lives in Jamaica Plain (non-Bostonians: Jamaica Plain is where all the gay ladies reputedly live). His response was odd. He told her to watch her voice (I’m unclear as to whether that was about the scratchy state of her literal voice, or a “watch your mouth, young lady,” type of admonition), then said, “you get too angry.” A few seconds later: “I mean, a lot of guys would say… to think, you could be somebody’s wife, screaming like that is…” The woman’s response: “Someone’s wife? That is something I will never be.” 1101 then visibly cringed. Another officer then stepped in to diffuse things while the occupier leaned on her bike and lit a cigarette.
Watching this whole thing unfold was just plain weird, and different from any other BPD interaction we’d had. Interactions with 1101 continued to be weird. He was really bitter; we could literally feel the anger emanating from him. People livetweeted what he said, and many occupiers’ cameras were on him, but he kept going (I remember thinking, “if he does this when we’re all filming him, what does he do when there are no cameras on him, no press livetweeting his every word?”). He accused another occupier and me of having our daddies buy our cell phones. He called us all one-percenters. We would ignore him, but he would keep trolling us, so we stopped ignoring him and started responding to him. Eventually it became kind of a weird game; we’d feed him more information simply to watch him say weirder, more offensive things, or to see him parrot the same things he’d said before. Someone said something about protesting for what they believe in, and 1101 yelled, “I gave up a long time ago!”
When this whole BPPA campaign started, I randomly remembered that night in March: how 1101 kept insisting that we were rich kids from the suburbs, that we were one percenters, and, most offensive of all, that some of us we were less than human due to our statuses as women and lesbians. On this march for women’s rights, we were actively belittled and degraded by a male police officer. I attempted to track down my tweets from that night, and eventually came upon this Storify/blog combo from Carly Carioli of The Boston Phoenix. (Although he was only watching the livestream, judging from the title, Carioli apparently found the whole scenario as weird as we did.) I also dug up some video from Jay Kelly, a Boston occupier.
In Jay’s second video below, you can hear a BPD detective refer to 1101 as “James” as he walks 1101 away from a steadily escalating scene. Furthermore, two sources within the Boston Police Department who wish to remain anonymous have told me that 1101 is one James Carnell. I can’t prove it without outing these sources, so I’m hoping that someone who sees this video can confirm or deny this, because the coincidence would really be something. Many occupiers are in the process of accumulating old notes and tweets in order to write written statements describing what happened that night, as much of the worst content isn’t on the video. Regardless of who 1101 is, the re-emergence of this video has reminded a bunch of us that we need to file a complaint.
The first person who can tell me who 1101 is wins a really awesome prize.
(Second video is now working!)