(boston.com/metrodesk) By Andrew Ryan, John R. Ellement, John M. Guilfoil, Akilah Johnson, Brian R. Ballou, and Martin Finucane, Globe Staff
Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino today defended the arrests of more than 100 Occupy Boston protesters on the city’s Greenway park, saying he agrees with them on the issues but they couldn’t be allowed to “tie up the city.”
“I understand they have freedom of speech and freedom of expression, but we have a city to manage,” he said in a telephone interview. “I’m open to suggestions, but civil disobedience will not be tolerated.”
The early morning arrests of the protesters, who have gathered downtown in recent days to criticize the financial industry and social inequality, began at about 1:20 a.m.
“The message they are saying … is the middle class of America is having a difficult time. That’s the issue they are trying to get across,” Menino said.
“I agree with them on the issues. Foreclosure. Corporate greed. These are issues I’ve been working on my entire career. But you can’t tie up a city,” he said.
He said protesters had crossed two lines, first, by marching on the North Washington Street Bridge and threatening to tie up traffic and, second, by expanding their campground to a newly renovated area of the Greenway that the city had asked them to stay off.
Occupy Boston said today in a statement that police had “brutally attacked” protesters.
“Today’s reprehensible attack by the Boston Police Department represents a sad and disturbing shift away from dialogue and towards violent repression,” the group said on its website.