Monday, October 10, 2011

Occupy Seattle dwindles Thursday after arrests

By Christine Clarridge and Jennifer Sullivan
Oct. 5, 2011 Seattle Times

Seattle police swept through Westlake Park on Wednesday, making 25 arrests
as they clashed with protesters and hauled away tents set up by the Occupy
Seattle movement.

A dwindling number of protesters remained at Westlake Park on Thursday
morning, less than a day after Seattle police and city parks staff swept
through the park making arrests and forcing participants in the Occupy
Seattle movement to take down their tents.

Protesters said that about 30 people spent the night in sleeping bags, in
boxes lined with aluminum foil and in other makeshift shelters set up to
replace the now-banned tents.

After eating a hot breakfast at the camp, people gathered in groups as
musicians tuned their guitars and others played cards, shared cigarettes
or talked about their strategy for the dawning day.

Dewey Potter, spokeswoman for Seattle Parks and Recreation, said Thursday
morning that about 50 people remained in the park at late morning. She
said that protesters have been told that they can seek a permit for a food
tent and a first aid tent.

Parks staff remain monitoring the protest, Seattle police are no longer
involved, Potter said.

Seattle police arrested 25 people on Wednesday as they clashed with
protesters and hauled away tents. The protest continued after arrests were

Wednesday's showdown — in one of downtown's most popular gathering spots —
began just after lunchtime, as some demonstrators refused a city order to
remove the tents.

The Seattle protest, an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations
in New York City and elsewhere, had gone on since late last month at the
downtown federal building and Westlake without much notice. But as the
Westlake crowd grew and tents multiplied over the weekend, city officials
decided this week to enforce rules against camping in parks.

On Wednesday afternoon, police and park rangers moved in.

Christopher Williams, acting parks superintendent, said demonstrators
could stay in the park, but only during park hours of 4 a.m. to 10 p.m.,
though that was not enforced Wednesday night. He also said tents are not

"The right to protest in Seattle is a cherished one and one we uphold,"
Mayor Mike McGinn said earlier in the day, noting that he sympathized with
the cause many protesters sought to highlight: the expanding gulf between
rich and poor. But, McGinn added, "by putting up tents in Westlake Park,
it means you are excluding other users."

Of the 25 people arrested, police said 13 were booked into King County
Jail. Twelve others were released, police said, with requests for charges
of obstructing a public officer sent to the City Attorney's Office.

Late Wednesday, in a soft, cold rain, more than 100 protesters remained at
the site, monitored by a single, parked patrol car and a parks department
security vehicle. Protesters were defiant, but peaceful.

"I think it's completely illegal to arrest people," said Emma Kaplan, 26.
"All charges need to be dropped."

Moments earlier, Kaplan led a small group of people who repeated her
comments, as is common at Occupy sites so that others can hear what's
being said.

"Let's not give up, because the whole world is watching," they said.
"Enough is enough. Right is on our side. Occupy Seattle."

Kaplan said she belonged to The World Can't Wait organization, which has
been protesting the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan. She applied for a
permit so her group could hold an anti-war protest on Friday at the park.
She said she had no problem with the tents set up by other protesters.

There were no tents late Wednesday; only a small fruit-and-food stand
offering free snacks. Protesters were told by police that blankets and
sleeping bags would not be allowed and that no one would be permitted "to

"That is monstrous," Kaplan said.

Seattle Parks and Recreation staff came to the park early Wednesday, and
as dozens of police stood by, asked protesters to take down their tents.

By 2 p.m., before police converged on the crowd of maybe 200, about 25
tents had been taken down.

An additional 10 tents remained, and police and parks employees moved from
tent to tent. In some cases, demonstrators resisted the efforts of police
and parks workers to take the tents away — leading to several

Twice, groups of protesters linked arms, determined to prevent officers
from removing the tents and the protesters inside.

In one instance, protesters were on the ground and held down by police as
other officers removed people from the tent and took them away in

Some of those protecting tents screamed as if being beaten, while others
yelled about police brutality.

Occupy Wall Street protests started last month with a few dozen
demonstrators trying to pitch tents in front of the New York Stock
Exchange. Around the country and in Seattle, crowds have been drawn to a
public, if unorganized, show against corporate greed.

Dee Powers, an artist living in Pioneer Square, has been part of the
Westlake protest for several days.

"I'm totally for it," she said Wednesday. "I'm out here to support the
people screaming for change."

Powers, though, goes home at night to sleep. "I don't do cold and wet that
well," she said.

According to the Seattle protest website, "The one thing we all have in
common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and
corruption of the 1%."

But demonstrators who started the day talking about how they were in that
"99 percent" of the population done wrong by Wall Street eventually turned
their focus to the police. Some told officers to take off their badges and
join them, while others chanted, "Cops, pigs and murderers."

More than 40 officers were at the scene late Wednesday afternoon.

Once the last tent was wrenched from the hands of protesters, police

One of those resisting police was Jackson Morgan, 19, from San Francisco.

"I feel great," he said, as some in the crowd hugged and congratulated him.

Protesters vowed to hold tight, saying they would remain at Westlake Park
— with tents or without them.

Potter, spokeswoman for Seattle parks, said Wednesday that the consensus
among city leaders, including McGinn and Police Chief John Diaz, was that
any action against the protesters should be "as smooth and peaceful as we
can make it."

Shortly before 11 p.m. Wednesday, the crowd had dwindled to fewer than
100, but protesters were still chanting and holding signs.

Brock Milliern, security supervisor for Seattle parks, was monitoring from
a nearby parks vehicle. "As long as they are protesting and don't set up
structures, they will be allowed to stay," he said.

The Occupy Seattle group arrived at Westlake Park on Saturday, protesting
corporate control of government. In the days since, as in other cities,
the causes have diversified: Protesters' chants Wednesday urged
Palestinian rights, immigration reform and open borders.

Whatever the cause, frustration was the common thread.

Daniel Dorn, 18, of Bellevue, said he spent six days at the park, staying

"I've been really upset," said Dorn. "In America we're one of the
wealthiest countries and we don't have free health care."

Dorn carried a fundraising box, collecting cash to support protesters.

Staff reporters Jeff Hodson and Lynn Thompson contributed to this report.
Material from The Associated Press was included.

Occupy Seattle: Sunshine, speeches, 2 arrests

Hundreds of peaceful protesters rallied and marched through downtown
Seattle as part of an ongoing Occupy Seattle demonstration against what
they called corporate domination of America, with crowds approaching 1,000
supporters at midday.

By Mike Lindblom

Oct. 8, 2011 Seattle Times

Hundreds of peaceful protesters rallied and marched through downtown
Seattle as part of an ongoing Occupy Seattle demonstration against what
they called corporate domination of America, with crowds approaching 1,000
supporters at midday.

Demonstrators chanted "We are the 99 percent!" as they marched to the Bank
of America Fifth Avenue Plaza between Marion and Columbia streets. Some
played drums, while others ranted against corporate greed and a do-nothing

Many in the crowd sang "The Star-Spangled Banner," shortly before heading
back to the protest base in Westlake Park.

Protesters occupied the intersection of Fourth Avenue and Pike Street for
half an hour, as bicycle police controlled traffic. Just before 7 p.m.,
the crowd cleared except for two people, who were arrested. One, a young
woman, held a sign saying "No War but Class War," and she was cheered as
she was led handcuffed into a police van. The other, a young man, refused
to stand up and was carried off by police.

Seattle is one of several cities that has witnessed spinoffs of the Occupy
Wall Street protest in New York City. On Wednesday in Seattle, 25 people
were arrested after some demonstrators refused to take down tents in
Westlake Park. Police said they would continue to issue tickets to drivers
who honked their horns after 10 p.m. in support of protesters.

Jim Kelley, 49, of Lake Stevens grabbed a bullhorn at the bank plaza, even
though he says he has never protested before, to talk about how his
savings were wiped out. "I used to have a quarter-million saved up in
investments," he said in an interview later. Hard times have reduced his
retirement savings to below $100,000, and he's been laid off twice
recently from information-technology jobs, he said. Alongside Kelley stood
his daughter, Tamara, wearing a purple graduation gown and holding a sign
"I went to UW and all I got was debt."

Dale Rector, a French and Spanish teacher at Seattle's Cleveland High
School, said his students' families are struggling, even leaving the city,
to make ends meet. He hopes Occupy Seattle grows and that high-schoolers
join. "We're so proud of young people getting active again, speaking about
what kind of future they're going to have," he said.

Labor leaders threw support behind Occupy Seattle and similar protests
last week, and unionists appeared to make up about half the Saturday crowd
in Seattle, alongside a diverse group including students, job seekers,
socialists, anarchists, the homeless, and even tourists from Japan who
took snapshots of it all.

"This is an organic, bottom-up democracy — people-speak at its most basic
level," said Dave Freiboth, executive secretary of the Martin Luther King
Jr. County Labor Council.

"We're tired of inequity, we're tired of economic disparity. We're tired
of corporate fat-cats who want us to bail them out, then... act mean to

Volunteers served chicken, potatoes, dried snacks and coffee from a tent
in back of the park. Two tables were set up for sign-making, next to
drummers and dancers.

"If corporations are people, they should not be exempt from the death
penalty," one sign said.

"$oft money, $oft democracy," another said, in reference to the
labyrinthine ways that special-interest groups can channel money into
political campaigns.

Labor-union banners represented longshore workers, stagehands, carpenters
and teachers.

State Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, dropped by in support, as did as
City Attorney Pete Holmes, whose office would be responsible for
prosecuting arrested protesters.

Kohl-Welles said the protests could influence lawmakers thinking about
tough budget cuts later this year. Attempts to tax high incomes in
Washington have failed, and Kohl-Welles said tax reform or even closing
loopholes would be tough because of Tim Eyman's Initiative 1053, which
requires a two-thirds majority on such issues. But some lawmakers are
talking about a potential ballot referendum, she said.

One bright spot is an uptick in construction-trades employment, said Lee
Newgent, executive secretary of the Seattle Building Trades Council.

By his count, there are 14 construction cranes in the air, including
apartment towers being built with union-pension funds, while megaprojects
such as the Highway 520 bridge pontoons and Highway 99 replacement have
created jobs.

His optimism indicates just how low expectations are these days.

"We are starting to see some encouraging growth. We're still 35-40 percent
[unemployed], but that's better than 50 to 55 percent," he said.

Earlier in the day, protesters listened to four hours of speeches,
including a couple celebrating Indigenous People's Day, as a counterpoint
to the federal Columbus Day holiday on Monday.

"You people are finally waking up to what the indigenous people have
experienced for centuries," said Patricia Anne Davis, a Navajo who said
she quit her job as a tribal-government staffer on the reservation and
moved to Seattle in 2002.

A third person was arrested early Saturday afternoon after he rode past
police on a skateboard and squirted fluid from a spray bottle at officers,
Lt. Eric Sano said. It's unclear whether he was a participant at the

Continued protests are expected, including a 5 p.m. rally Monday led by
the pro-labor group Working Washington, which will call for taxes on the
rich and more public-works investment.

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