Update: Occupy Seattle protesters clear bridge after tying up traffic
Traffic was snarled in Seattle's University District as hundreds of Occupy Seattle demonstrators from Seattle Central Community College met union and other protesters at the University Bridge as part of a national day of action demanding jobs.
Reporting from the bridge, KPLU's Vanessa Romo said protesters were in the middle of the bridge but were not directly impeding traffic since it appeared vehicles had been rerouted. Some protesters climbed up on part of the bridge, but all protesters had cleared out and the bridge was reopened by 6:20.
Renee Koche, a union member in the building trades, said union workers "are the canary in the coal mine and when our jobs go away then you know the middle class Americans are really in trouble. So you don’t want to see us disappear.”
March organizers were hoping for up to 1,000 people to attend the rally. Fewer showed. Seattle police had said to expect delays, and there were reports of long backups. The state was ready to close the heavily-used, westbound Montlake exit ramp to the State Route 520 bridge if needed.
Police clashed with Occupy Seattle demonstrators Tuesday and arrested six who blocked downtown traffic. Officers used pepper spray to disperse the crowd, which included an 84-year-old woman.
Mayor Mike McGinn apologized Wednesday and asked police to review their use of the spray.
Around the country
Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne told the Associated Press that 300 arrests were made during the Occupy protests in New York City today. That does not include 99 arrests made at the Brooklyn Bridge. Total, nearly 400 arrests were made.
Occupy Oakland chose not to participate in the National Day of Action because of intense clashes with police, reports The New York Times. Instead protests will continue on Saturday.
In association with the National Day of Action, Occupy Pittsburgh marched across the Greenfield Bridge, reports CBS Pittsburg. They carried with sayings like "Tax the Rich, Fix a Bridge" and "Fighting for the Middle Class."
Occupy Chicago protesters are also showing solidarity with the national Occupy Movement by participating in the National Day of Action, reported NBC Chicago. They marched through the streets and plan to engage in 'mass action' at 5:30pm.
The Los Angeles Times reported Occupy LA protesters, in response to the National Day of Action, moved in to Bank of American Plaza and shut down intersections. An 82-year old woman and 22 others were arrested.
Expecting a large turnout, but not sure if they will be dealing with demonstrations at one Seattle bridge or two, Seattle police are preparing for the worst hoping for the best in today’s planned Occupy Seattle and labor union demonstration.
KPLU’s Vanessa Romo will be reporting from the scene and making several live broadcasts as well as Web reports.
The demonstration and march announced by the group Working Washington is expected to bring 1,000 “workers, unemployed people, students, retirees, faith leaders and others” to a rally at the corner of Montlake and Pacific Street in the University District at 4 p.m. The rally is expected to turn into a march to the University Bridge at 4:30 p.m.
“This was a planned march by one of the labor groups. They had at first said Montlake. We’ve been working with the organizers. They have agreed to change that to University Bridge,” said Seattle PD spokesman Detective Mark Jamieson. “We’re prepared for a demonstration, we just don’t know if it’s going to be at one or two bridges.”
Jamieson said the department is preparing for the demonstrations, while hoping the night passes with no arrests.
“Our hope is, best case scenario is, it goes off without a hitch. It’s peaceful,” he said. “No one gets arrested. Everyone is safe. That would be ideal. However, I think we have to be realistic. You look at what’s going on across the country today. You look at recent events here in the city. We would be foolish if we did not take those things into consideration.”
The march was scheduled to be part of the "National Day of Action for Jobs, Not Cuts" protests going on across the county.