Update: Police arrest at least 20 Occupy Seattle protestors
For the latest updates on this story see: 'Occupy Seattle' arrests hit 25; protesters still occupy Westlake Park
Police have arrested around 20 demonstrators who refused to remove their tents from Westlake Park in downtown Seattle, according to the Associated Press. Demonstrators tussled with officers as they made a last stand, attempting to block police from removing a few tents left at the park.
Seattle Parks Acting Superintendent Christopher Williams, who was at the scene of the arrests, said the protesters’ tents were the primary cause for the police action. He said the incident was a legal issue surrounding the camping and blocking others from using the park. He added that camping was not allowed in any Seattle parks.
“This is not about the issue,” he said. “We’re not making a judgment on the cause. … They can take their tents away and come back to continue protesting.” The park closes at 10 p.m., he added. “They can come back at 6:30 a.m.”
One of the early organizers of the "Occupy Seattle" protest and camp still in place in downtown Seattle says he will "absolutely" stay in Westlake Park.
Yesterday afternoon, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn told “Occupy Seattle” to take down their tents and leave the park during the night when it and other Seattle parks are normally closed to the public.
"I have a moral obligation to stay," said Pete Whipple, one of the organizers who has been staying in the park since Friday. "I don't see how I can leave now."
(If your device doesn't support Flash, you can see the photos on our Flickr page.)
Wednesday morning the roughly 30 tents and 100 protesters and others were still in place. The protestors are one of dozens of groups across the country in support of the protests in New York by a movement called “Occupy Wall Street.”
Mayor McGinn issued a statement late yesterday afternoon that said no matter how worthy the cause, no one group can use Westlake Park to the exclusion of others. Seattle Police Department spokesman Mark Jamieson said the department was monitoring the situation.
"If there is a law violation, we'll address it at that time, but until then, there's really nothing we need to do," Jamieson said.
Whipple said that since the protests that overturned the government in Tunisia, the rest of the world is counting on America to keep the "revolution" going.
"All these countries are saying the same thing: people before politics. There are so many with so little and so few with so much. No culture in the world says that's okay," he said.
On the Web:
- Mayor Mike McGinn's statement on the protests
- Occupy Wall Street protest drawing thousands of dollars in donations as sit-in enters third week
Occupy Seattle video:
Occupy Wall Street videos:
Protestors told KPLU yesterday that they’ve had good relations with the city so far and are talking about permits and other possible locations.
“We’ve been given permission to be here while the permits go through for a permanent camp, and we’ve made promises that we wouldn’t be bothering (people),” said Whipple. “You know we follow some very simple rules from the parks department and the police department: No drugs, no alcohol, keep the dogs on a leash and keep it clean.”
Wherever they go, their concerns remain the same – wanting less corporate control of government.
“There’ a gentleman running around here with this awesome sign which I think probably makes it as clearly and concisely as possible in the fewest words and he says, and I agree, that ‘a government owned by corporations cannot and will not take care of its citizens or the environment properly.’ And I think that sums it up in a nutshell,” said Whipple.
Roda from Edmonds added:
“The reason I’m here is because I don’t feel I’m represented by the government because I feel that the government does what the top 1 percent does, that is corporations, banks, and ultra-rich. In order to have a voice you have to have a lot of money and 99% of the people in this country don’t have enough money to have a voice.”
Both Whipple and Roda have been protesting at Westlake since Saturday. The city says there are several upcoming events at the Park, including a rally to mark the 10-year anniversary of the war in Afghanistan.
McGinn said in sympathy: "We are facing unprecedented inequality in this country. It is always true that bad times are harder on the poor. But we have not seen income inequality this great since 1928, the year before the Great Depression started. The top 1 percent control 34 percent of the nation's wealth. The top 10 percent control two-thirds of the nation's wealth. It is an unprecedented grab by the most powerful to get a bigger share of a shrinking pie."