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Greater Boston area community members join Occupy efforts

Occupy Boston protesters joined residents of several Greater Boston communities including Roxbury, Jamaica Plain and Mattapan, to march as part of the “Occupy The Hood” movement on Friday.

The Occupy The Hood rally, which took place in Dudley Square and attracted more than 500 protesters, seeks to address issues such as economic injustice, violence and police brutality.

Community members, leaders and organization representatives spoke to the crowd about issues affecting these communities and how to improve them.

“There’s only one segment within the United States that does well, and that’s business,” said Roxbury resident Dennis Lloyd.

“I would go as far to say that police brutality and racial profiling in black and Latino communities in particular [is] an epidemic,” said Jennifer Zaldana, a member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, and Act Now to Stop War & End Racism (ANSWER) Coalition.

Zaldana also said that unrecorded police brutality is an issue.

“In Boston alone, from 2000 to 2004, there were 16 reported murders by cops, and who knows how many acts of brutality that weren’t put on the books,” Zaldana said. “And considering the fact that our city has faced massive budget cuts, it’s ironic that right behind us is a brand new police station that cost more than 40 million dollars.”

Among the speakers were young women from the Smith Leadership Academy, who talked about problems affecting their communities such as homelessness, violence and the spread of illegal drugs.

“You are all hurting, and that is nothing new,” said Boston City Councilor At-Large Ayanna Pressley. “The poor will always be amongst us, but the same people shouldn’t always be poor.”

Pressley said that when government is right, it should be kept right— but when it is wrong, it should be made right. She said she wanted to encourage protesters to vote in the upcoming municipal elections.

Crowd members said they supported the Occupy the Hood movement.

“I think it’s great that everyone is realizing that we have a say in all of this too . . . I think it is important to have occupations popping up everywhere,” said Helen Kenny, an observer.

Kenny said that she hopes the Occupy movements will get the “right people” elected, and even change the two-party system.

“Change the foreclosures, the banks and the way that system is working,” Kenny said.

Teronda Ellis, a Roxbury resident, said that it is painful that there is still a need for protesters when there have been so many movements throughout the country.

“I think the overall feeling that I have is that it has been too long,” Ellis said. “We have waited too long, and we all have to wake up together. It’s a classism issue.”

Ellis also said that it is the people’s fault that everyone is not in a different place.

“We’ve got to be able to keep this going, we have to make some strategic changes in this country in order for our children to have a chance at any type of freedom,” she said.

“I’m not standing out here because I don’t think there’s an opportunity to change the structure. I’m standing out here because I know that there is.”

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