In Seattle, Occupy protesters got ousted -- and got organized
The future of Occupy demonstrations in other cities may be in doubt, with police and city officials from New York to L.A.moving to oust the encampments, but Occupy Seattle has if anything become better-organized since protesters were evicted from the city center at Westlake Park.
After their ouster, the demonstrators decamped to Seattle Central Community College, on the outskirts of downtown on Capitol Hill, where about 100 tents remain, and protesters continue to mount regular marches, rallies and protest actions.
The largest was Monday in the state capital of Olympia, when about 3,000 protesters arrived at the capitol during a special legislative session on measures to close Washington state’s ever-reappearing budget gap with, among other ideas, a new half-cent sales tax.
“Tax the 1% not the 99%. NO SALES TAX,” one Occupy Olympia banner said.
Occupy Seattle protesters, who have been flush with donations from private grantors, labor unions and others since their celebrated eviction, chartered buses to the state capitol for the event. An estimated 300 protesters staged a sit-in inside the capitol dome, from which about 100 holdouts who refused to disperse were ejected by police wielding, in at least two instances, stun guns.
About 30 people were arrested. Six state troopers were injured during the raucous standoff, two with bite injuries, four with bumps and bruises.
College administrators have ordered the remaining tent camp to leave — an eviction order being challenged in court Friday, with Occupy leaders arguing that there is no provision in state law prohibiting camping on state-owned college campuses.
About 30 protesters have also taken up occupation of an empty foreclosed house — “Occupy Everything — No Banks, No Landlords,” says a new sign outside.
Occupy Seattle spokesman Mark Taylor-Canfield said leaders also are considering the possibility of moving for the wet, cold Seattle winter into an empty warehouse, if not by outright occupation, then perhaps via a donation from a nonprofit organization. The group could even rent space using the Occupy movement’s growing cash stash.
“Covered space would be good. We could have live electronic music events. We could have power, we could also have infrastructure — we could have offices!” he said.
Crucial to the movement’s ongoing dynamism, though, is the fact that the city has granted it a permit to have a daily information booth at the scene of the original occupation at Westlake Park, in the downtown shopping district, and has also allowed marches and rallies by permit on a fairly regular basis.
Occupy Seattle has held regular teach-ins, arts-and-crafts booths, labor chorus performances and even a square dance organized, ostensibly, by the Seattle Subversive Square Dance Society featuring Peckin’ Out Dough as caller.
Last week, Occupy protesters staged an “Occupy Black Friday” picket at a Wal-Mart in nearby Renton, Wash., where 80 protesters carried signs and yelled at shoppers: “It’s not your purpose in life to be a consumer!”
“We’ve definitely not lost momentum. Actually, it’s built, and we’re becoming more mobile,” Taylor-Canfield said. He said the city’s agreement to allow a permanent information booth presence downtown has been key.
“It’s very important for us to be in the main public square, like the town crier of old,” he said.
-- Kim Murphy
Video: Police move Occupy Olympia protesters who were sitting in the street Monday blocking a busload of arrestees from leaving for jail. Credit: YouTube