AMESBURY — As hundreds of protestors continue camping out in downtown Boston's Dewey Square as part of Occupy Boston, protesting what they believe is an unfair distribution of wealth in this country, a small group of Amesbury residents has gotten involved as well by driving supplies to protesters and then sitting in for several hours.
The Occupy Boston movement, which has transformed Dewey Square in the Rose Kennedy Greenway into a sort of mini-tent city, began Sept. 30 and was inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement that started in New York City on Sept. 17. Since then, similarly organized protests have sprung up in cities across the country as more people voice their frustration and discontent with this country's economic and political systems.
On Tuesday, 129 protestors were arrested by Boston police after authorities say protestors left the designated area around Dewey Square and moved to another section of the Greenway. Authorities warned the protestors that if they moved to another section of the Greenway, they would be arrested. Police records showed none of the arrested individuals were from the Newburyport area.
A day later, three Amesbury Quakers representing Friends Meeting House in Amesbury drove a carload full of blankets, water, hand sanitizers, soap and medical supplies to Occupy Boston participants.
Jeff Hipp and his two fellow Quakers, Kathleen Wooten and Kevin Gallagher, loaded up his Subaru Outback Wednesday afternoon and arrived shortly after 6 p.m. The supplies were placed on a sidewalk and brought to a medical tent by Occupy Boston protestors.
"I share concern for the cause, and I think providing aid and making sure they have supplies to have their basic needs taken care of is something I feel good about," Hipp said.
Wooten said the visit made sense, considering the Quakers' mission.
"We as Quakers are very supportive of nonviolent action and we wanted to support people there who were trying to make a statement peacefully," Wooten said.
After their car was emptied, the Quakers walked around the camp and took part in a general assembly around 7 p.m. Hipp said he and friends also spent time in the prayer tent.
"It was a really, spiritually deep space, you could tell people put a lot of prayer into that space," Hipp said.
As for why Hipp and the others decided to make the trip into Boston, Hipp said they wanted to see for themselves what the media has been depicting for weeks and thought it would make sense to bring as many supplies as his car could hold.
"I think the common media concept of what's going on in the Occupy movement is it's a bunch of college students who are socialists who don't have a job. There are those people out there, but there was so much more," Hipp said.
According to Occupy Boston organizers, the protests are hoping to inspire discussion and debate around economic reform, focusing on topics like financial inequality, campaign finance reform, corporate personhood, transparency in government and political corruption.
"This movement is not anticapitalist, and the people gathered in Dewey Square do not oppose the wealthy. Those who earn six figures or drive a Mercedes are part of the 99 percent, and they deserve a democracy that will represent them and protect them," according to Occupy Boston.
Hipp said there were many people there who looked to be over 40 years old, including clergy members, union members and veterans. It was the images of veterans being arrested earlier this week that also moved Hipp to make the trip.
"I just started crying," Hipp said.
Wooten said the protesters looked far more organized than she expected as she saw several different tents, including a medic tent, a tent for media inquiries, a makeshift chapel or worship space and other tents.
"It was very clean and organized and peaceful," Wooten said. "What I expected is not what I found, I thought it was going to be very chaotic."
Hipp said he was surprised by how well kept the area looked.
"They're keeping the space really clean; not too much trash on the sidewalk. They're very clear that they don't allow drinking or alcohol in the area they're occupying, " Hipp said.
Something else that struck Hipp was that those who were protesting spanned the political spectrum from leftists to Tea Party members, meaning their political differences were not keeping them from uniting against what they believed was the unfair influence of corporate America.
"I hope it awakens all Americans to think about the power that we do have as the biggest consumer market in the world. We may be losing jobs and losing benefits, but we are still the most power consumer market in the world.
"If we start using that to make purchases and do businesses with those that have the values that we want to see, we can make a difference and we have to give a little more thought to what we buy in the checkout line," Hipp said.