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Occupy Boston info booth demolished by Public Works Department

Posted by Jeremy C. Fox  October 18, 2011 03:38 PM

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A Boston Public Works employee who declined to give his name motioned protesters away from the wood-framed structure as two other workers began disassembling the frame.

Employees of the Boston Public Works Department today demolished a structure that had housed Occupy Boston's information booth, provoking frustration and resentment among some protesters.

The wooden frame supporting a bright-red tarpaulin came down about 11 a.m. A senior police official said city regulations do not allow such built structures on public property.

“Tents are fine,” said Deputy Superintendent Darrin Greeley, but not framed construction.

He said the removal of the structure in Dewey Square, across from South Station, was carried out at the request of the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway Conservancy, which was concerned about public safety and whether the improvised structure would stand up to high winds. “Common sense stuff, you know?” Greeley said.

Greeley said the conservancy had asked police to bring in the Public Works Department to remove it. A member of the Public Works crew declined to comment.

Greeley said city relations with Occupy Boston protesters were otherwise fine, but some protesters were upset by the teardown and disputed the idea that the structure had been a safety hazard.

Alex Ingram, a member of the group working in Occupy Boston’s media tent this morning, said the wood-framed construction had actually replaced two flimsier structures that had been previous information booths.

“I believe it was structurally sound, other than the walling,” said Ingram, a 22-year-old from Georgia who left the US Air Force as a senior airman just last month and will begin studies at Northeastern University in January 2012.

Ingram, who lives in Jamaica Plain and joined Occupy Boston about a week and a half ago, said the information booth had originally been a large, open tent, but it had later been replaced by a wood-framed structure less sturdily constructed than the one taken down today.

“It’s just random people building stuff,” Ingram said, explaining the ramshackle nature of the earlier structure. But a few days ago, he said, a group of architects had approached the protesters and offered to build a new, more solid frame.

Just two days ago, Ingram said, Boston police told the protesters they had concerns about the structure and asked them to take it down. He said officers had given a deadline of 6 p.m. Monday and later extended that to noon today. The Public Works employees began demolition just after 11 a.m.

Ingram described the event as a minor setback.

“There will be a much better tent replacing it,” he said. “We don’t have a timetable yet.”

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Within minutes, the workers had collapsed the tent and protesters began salvaging wood.

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