City Hall

Occupy Seattle Demonstrators May Move to City Hall Plaza

By Peter Johnson October 6, 2011

Earlier today, we featured an op/ed by nightlife industry activist Dave Meinert that accused Seattle's leaders of bungling their response to the Occupy Seattle demonstration. Meinert might be mollified by a statement City Council member Nick Licata put out regarding the protests:
I’m glad our residents are speaking out about the future of our nation and the causes and consequences of the economic crisis.  Our City Hall Plaza has been the site not only of rallies but also of protest sleepovers, with tents too! I think we should be able to accommodate this expression of free speech by inviting them here and I look forward to joining them.

When I followed up with Licata, he was cautious about embracing the movement outright but was quick to admit he is sympathetic to their messaging. "I support their basic idea—there's a crisis in this country caused by large corporate bodies with no accountability," he said. "I think their message is one that needs to be heard." Still, he shied away from endorsing the Occupy Seattle demonstrators and said he hadn't met with any representatives of the group. Either Mayor Mike McGinn or a five-member majority of the city council would have to approve a resolution allowing the protesters to set up shop at City Hall.

We also talked briefly about the surrounding businesses. Though the businesses around the plaza hadn't complained to the council at the time of my call, the council was concerned that the businesses might use private security to clear the plaza. The businesses are allowed to do so under their contract with the city, which owns Westlake Plaza.

One other possible motive for Licata's statement: apparently, the city has tried to make City Hall Plaza a significant protest venue by encouraging protest groups, but hasn't been very successful.

I'm going to go talk to to the protesters about all this now—stay tuned for updates.
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