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Boston Occupy Movement Reaches Second Phase


The Occupy encampment in Boston is still going strong. About 150 tents are set up in Dewey Square. Yesterday, a judge granted a temporary order that bars the city from removing those protestors. We're going to check in with an Occupy Boston protestor I spoke with last month on the program. Jason Potteiger is 25. He graduated from Suffolk University with degrees in advertising and poly-sci. And as he told me last month, he was unemployed.

JASON POTTEIGER: We're really uncertain about what the future holds. We want to start families or start our careers or even pay our college loans. What's happening in this country is - it's becoming painfully clear that this is something that really affects our generation in a big way and I felt like I really just had to come out.

BLOCK: Well, Jason Potteiger joins us once again and Jason, there's a big change since you and I talked back in October. You now have a job. Tell us about it.

POTTEIGER: Yes, I do. I've joined the working world and it's certainly been a big change.

BLOCK: What is the job that you have?

POTTEIGER: Well, I started working for a market research company, so I definitely feel like I'm working for the man now, at least coming from Occupy. But that being said, it's a fantastic company and I can say, hands down, that it's my dream job.

BLOCK: And having moved from the ranks of the unemployed to now having a job, how does that affect your connection with Occupy Boston?

POTTEIGER: Well, I think that the biggest affect that it's had is just the amount of time that I can spend either hanging out with people and working on issues in camp or spending time even just thinking about Occupy. It's pretty funny. I actually work in one of the skyscrapers now overlooking the encampment, so I can actually see the tents from my desk.

BLOCK: And what's that like to look down from where you are?

POTTEIGER: It's a very different kind of perspective to have. It's also, you know, it's too bad. I feel a little bit isolated from it now. But I still help how I can.

BLOCK: What is your involvement with Occupy Boston at this point?

POTTEIGER: Well, some friends of mine and I are working on this website called WeCanOccupy.com and the idea is that we've really reached the second phase of this movement here, at least that's what a lot of people in Boston feel. And we want to take this movement, the Occupy movement, we want to try to decentralize it. What we're trying to do with the website is encourage local groups to get together. Maybe they don't set up any tents, but to get engaged in local politics as well as national politics.

We want to have it not be so focused on the actual encampments and get people in the suburbs more engaged and make them feel like they're really part of the movement rather than just supporters of the movement.

BLOCK: It's an interesting point because as we've seen these crackdowns on encampments from New York to Portland, it does raise the question of how important it is to have a physical presence in the streets. What do you think?

POTTEIGER: Well, you know, I think on the one hand, we've found that this model of physically occupying something is very, very bad at getting actual policy work accomplished. We still haven't really seen much of a direction in the movement and I think that's because so much energy is eaten up by maintaining camp and dealing with all these legal issues that we're embroiled with. On the other hand, I think the camps are phenomenal symbols of the types of issues that we're facing in this country.

So there's a lot of people who haven't done anything wrong that really want to find a job down in those camps. And I think having them keeps that in the forefront of people's minds.

BLOCK: How has it felt for you that the Occupy movement has become much more a part of the national conversation and politicians at all levels up to President Obama have been asked about it?

POTTEIGER: Well, a lot of people used to ask me early on what impact do you guys hope to have down there and my response to them was always, we've already had an impact. And I think that's how it feels when we see that the national dialogue is revolving around issues that Occupy is raising. Three months ago, before Occupy started, I think that Democrats would have given their left arm to have wage inequality be something that was talked about on cable news. And now, Occupy has finally been able to accomplish that.

BLOCK: Well, Jason, it's good to talk to you again. Thank you and congratulations on the job.

POTTEIGER: Thank you so much.

BLOCK: That's Occupy Boston protestor Jason Potteiger. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.