Student protesters run into police trouble on Capitol Hill

Jun 21, 2012

An increase in the number of people protesting with the student group #MicCheckWallStreet last night on Capital Hill brought an increase in police presence with it.

And, not long after more than 80 people took to the streets to “peacefully” protest the rising costs of a college education, according to one organizer, the gathering turned hostile when a single arrest was made.

“The police sent in the bulls to break our backs,” protestor Travis Conquest said. “We won’t be broken with violence and it won’t intimidate us.”

Conquest explained that for the past three weeks the same East Precinct bicycle officers escorted #MicCheckWallStreet as the group marched through the Capitol Hill neighborhood, but yesterday a more aggressive, unfamiliar unit of police officers accompanied the march.

The Seattle PD's East Precinct has not yet commented on the incident.

In the video below shot by someone marching with the protest group, the police can be clearly heard warning protesters that they will be arrested if they didn't "get on the sidewalk." It is unclear from the video why the protester was arrested, however.

(There is a great deal of profanity near the end of the video.)

Protester talk about loans

Before the protesters ran into trouble, they gathered at Seattle Central Community College. The group was a mix of students, recent graduates, and others who have dealt with student debt for years.

One protester, Mandy Varona, said that both she and her 26-year-old son are struggling to pay off their student loans.

"We're both pretty broke," she said. "He works part-time. I work full-time doing a job that it took me quite a few years of schooling to get, and I'm still not earning enough. So, you get through school and you don't make the money you expect to make."

Bowker said her son's $6,000 loan is "by most standards, not that high." But he hasn't been able to make payments on that loan for over a year, which damaged his credit, she said, adding that one bank would not allow her son to open a savings account because his credit was too low.

Another protester, Hilary Bowker, graduated from the University of Washington last year with a master's degree in social work.

"I can't find a social work job because all the funding's being cut to those programs," she said. She added that she owes around $40,000 in student loans, and that if interest rates increase, it will be ever harder for her to pay them off.