The first two times I visited the Occupy Seattle protests, I walked through, smiled at people, and read the signs. I listened and absorbed what was happening around me. Both of those times were during daylight hours, and things seemed pretty quiet.
This time, on October 12th, it was different. The Instigator of Goodness swept into town, and invited me to help with the instigating while she accompanied her photographer friend. “Sounds like an adventure that will help the CU Movement,” I thought to myself. “I’m in!”
Westlake Park was busier than it had been on my previous two visits, and the darkening night cast a different glow on those assembled. The word going around was that the police were going to arrest those occupying the park after the park closed at 10 PM.
Clusters of people stood around, talking amongst themselves. Some strategizing, others simply passing time. Jamie walked right up to two people, to find out what the tape around their arms meant.
The tape identifies people who have different roles. Some are “Legal” and appear to be law students. (One of whom beat a hasty retreat from the park at 9:58, after encouraging the assembled to stay put and be strong – and to skedaddle if they didn’t want to be arrested.) We stayed even after the police showed up. We didn’t get arrested.
We spoke with a lot of people. At least over fifty people, if the number of flyers Jamie handed out was any indication. We heard stories – a young woman whose mother is in the foreclosure process, a young man who has felt unable to move his money due to spotty credit history. We spoke with the protestors, and we spoke with the officers who were there to serve and protect.
The stories that are coming out of this illustrate the need for us to do something different. The focus on profits at the expense of caring for our communities have put us into a position not dissimilar to that of the Great Depression… made worse only because we had history’s example, and we failed to follow it.
I will continue to be present, I will continue to witness. I will stand in solidarity with the members of my community because it is the right thing to do. Though there is some media support for these protests, there remains a lot of derision toward the protestors. We must be telling our stories ourselves to ensure that they represent the views of the people.