Occupy JP to hold ‘Hard Times’ march

Occupy JP will hold its first public event on Dec. 4: a Centre Street march called the “Economic Hard Times Tour of JP.”

The march, which begins at 1 p.m. in Monument Square, will involve handing out informational leaflets about budget cuts to social services and how they impact Jamaica Plain, said Occupy JP spokesperson Michael Russell.

The march will stick to Centre Street, but Russell could not say exactly how far it will go or how long it will last.

Occupy JP members also will join in a downtown march on Saturday to support the rights of undocumented workers. That march is organized by another neighborhood-based Occupy group, East Boston’s Ocupemos El Barrio.

There was confusion earlier this week about whether Occupy JP would be holding an actual “occupation” on the lawn of First Church in Jamaica Plain Unitarian Universalist, also in Monument Square. The church said no such camp had been discussed or permitted. But the church is considering placing a single, empty tent from the Occupy Boston protest on the lawn as a show of solidarity.

Russell clarified to the Gazette that the Occupy JP lawn demonstration also was actually intended to be unoccupied tents in a “symbolic” display. He said it is unclear why Occupy JP members thought permission for that was in place when the church says it was not.

Occupy JP was formed last month by local socialist activists also involved in the Occupy Boston protest downtown. It is intended as a model for sustaining the Occupy protest movement long-term by rooting it in communities and neighborhoods rather than downtown parks.

“We’re still working on what we stand for, our program to change JP to reflect the interests of the 99 percent,” Russell said. The Occupy movement’s slogan is that the economy and government are rigged to benefit the top 1 percent of income-earners.

But the main theme is clear, Russell said. That is opposing cuts to local schools and such institutions as the Shattuck Hospital.

“Big business and the 1 percent have their agenda…[and they are] making working people in Jamaica Plain pay for the casino capitalists’ financial games on Wall Street,” Russell said.

In recent organizing meetings, Occupy JP has discussed rallies against such corporations as Bank of America, according to meeting minutes. Another agenda item was, “Where’s the money—exposing the 1 percent within our community.”

Occupy JP also has formed a “safety committee” to arrange first aid and legal help in the event of a protest.

The group has discussed networking with activist nonprofits such as JP’s housing rights organization City Life/Vida Urbana (CLVU). The Occupy JP website links to CLVU’s. But, CLVU Executive Director Curdina Hill told the Gazette, she had not heard of Occupy JP. CLVU is in “conversation” with the organizers of Occupy Boston, she said.

Occupy JP’s website is occupyjp.org. The next public organizing meeting is slated for Dec. 4. (See JP Agenda listing.)

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