Tuesday, October 11, 2011

BREAKING: "Seattle police renew efforts to move 'Occupy Seattle' protestors"

KOMO Staff:
Seattle police officers returned to Westlake Park early Tuesday morning in a renewed effort to get protestors supporting the "Occupy Seattle" movement to move to another location.

Police and Parks officials have been pleading with the protestors to move to City Hall Plaza or face arrest. But protestors have held firm, even despite a stormy autumn night that featured heavy rains and blustery winds.

But additional pressure to leave may come Tuesday morning as the Parks Department is eager to complete its regularly-scheduled cleaning of the walkways and concrete at the park, but are hampered by the tents and others who refuse to leave. As the sun rose, officers were escorting cleaning crews as they began their work.

The new pleas to leave follow several attempts to get the protestors to leave Monday night. Announcements from Seattle Parks and Recreation officials came around 10:30 p.m. said the park closed at 10 p.m., and therefore the protesters must vacate.

But around midnight, a staff member of Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn appeared at Westlake Mall and said no arrests would be made overnight, according to Occupy Seattle organizers. That staff member, who refused to address the media, said the same would not be true for Tuesday night, protesters said.

By midnight, all but one of the police officers who were at Westlake Mall had left.

Organizers, on Occupy Seattle's Facebook page, said the group had not agreed to move.

"The mayors office has given us 24 hours to come up with our demands concerning relocation, encouraging us to move to City Hall Plaza," a post from late Monday night said.

Earlier Monday, McGinn, addressing the protesters, said they needed to "fight to get jobs, fight to get justice" as the effects of the Great Recession continue to hurt the area and the country.

At Westlake Park, McGinn said the pattern of income inequality started gaining steam under President Ronald Reagan and had worsened in recent years.

"It felt like a small portion of the population was doing their best to grab a bigger share of a shrinking pie. And it's gone on long enough," McGinn told the gathering, which was a mishmash of labor activists, liberal interest groups, concerned citizens, homeless people and their advocates and more than a few curious passersby.

"Politicians of both parties, my party included, didn't have the guts to do anything about it," McGinn continued to scattered cheers and applause while about two dozen police officers observed the crowd. "This is my message to you. Keep organizing. Don't just fight to speak up...fight to get jobs, fight to get justice."

Tents went up in Westlake Park earlier this month in support of New York's Occupy Wall Street demonstration against corporate political power.

"It now turns out it's not one man, one vote, it's one dollar, one vote," said protester Neal Bernstein. "And since corporations have all the dollars, they get all the votes."

Seattle police arrested about 25 people for refusing to remove tents, which aren't allowed in the park.

At least three others were arrested over the weekend. One man was arrested for assaulting an officer, while another man and woman were arrested for blocking an intersection.

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