Riding on the wave of anti-corporate demonstrations sweeping the nation inspired by "Occupy Wall Street" in NYC, Occupy Seattle is still in full swing on its third day.
The group, loosely composed of activists from labor, environmentalist, animal-rights, and other lefty groups, have been camped out in Westlake Park since last night and, on message with the NYC movement, are in it for the long haul, they say.
The 60 to 80 protesters say they are a "leaderless movement," but they are far from disorganized. The Occupy Seattle group features a set of work groups with different functions—such as fundraising (for food and supplies), internet, media, and safety—and representatives from each group vote on decisions. [pullquote]A few strolled up and down the street with signs condemning corporate greed (example: "F**k the banks! Monetary slavery is wrong!"). [/pullquote]
About 20 to 30 tents were stationed in the square across Westlake Center today, draped in signs proclaiming solidarity with Occupy Wall Street and calling for various items on the liberal agenda, such as a single payer health care system. At lunchtime, the majority of the protesters were staying in the tents, but a few strolled up and down the street with signs condemning corporate greed (example: "F**k the banks! Monetary slavery is wrong!"), greeting passer-bys and waving to cars that honked in support.
As with Occupy Wall Street, the Occupy Seattle folks direct their grievances at what they see as the complicity between corporations and the federal government, and they have a laundry list of demands ranging from the mildly generic "universal education" to dipping into radical territory ("No support for the Democratic or Republican parties, only rely on people in the Occupy movement").
Echoing the general mood of liberal America, protesters expressed disappointment with Bush-era policies and programs that have persisted in the Obama years. Vietnam veteran and Tacoma resident David Dittlemore cited "tapping phones, remote prisons, and the killing of an American citizen overseas without a trial" as Obama administration transgressions, calling them "very disturbing."
As for whether or not he would vote for Obama in next year's election, he, like others in Occupy Seattle, are waiting to see if the embattled President will step up his game in enacting the "change" he campaigned on.
A few protesters also gave credence to Fizz's observation this morning about some overlap between the Occupy Seattle movement and the conservative agenda. Remy, a six-year Iraq war vet holding his daughter in one arm, and an anti-corporate protest sign in another arm, said he would like to see a smaller federal government and wants the state legislature to "get together and stop accepting handouts from the federal government."
He continued, "we have a wonderful economy if we learn how to harness it and get the federal government out of our back pockets."
Occupy Seattle is currently awaiting an official permit from the City, and have no immediate action plans to further the groups' agenda beyond occupying Westlake for an indefinite period.
The group has been corresponding with the Mayor's office and SPD to comply with zoning codes. One of the coordinators for the fundraising workgroup, identified by his first name as Pete, described the whole process so far as "smooth sailing," noting that they have not encountered any police harassment. (Overheard at a meeting held by the legal work group this afternoon: Businesses in the park, however, are starting to complain.)