Wednesday Jolt: Checking in at Westlake

By Afternoon Jolt October 19, 2011

I just went down to Westlake to see how the occupation was going.

The Occupy Wall Street protesters have sparked a conversation about economic policy, and I've been disappointed that the local movement has turned into a small-scale fight over a particular space. (The strategy makes sense in New York—for now anyway—because the protesters are occupying turf around Wall Street.)

But Westlake doesn't mean much—and so the symbolism of battling the city over the right to set up tents in a park (while decrying a sympathetic left-wing mayor) muddles their cause.

That said: If you are going to set out to occupy a space—occupy it!

There weren't very many people at Westlake today (I counted 30 max about an hour ago).

Yes, there were a couple of on-point placards: "Separation of Corporations and State!"

But I also witnessed a protester getting trespassed from the park by Parks and SPD. The scene didn't make me feel much like I was a witness at Tahir Square.

While he was certainly a protester—he said he'd been at Westlake since the demonstrations began, and he had three Occupy fist buttons pinned to his zip-up sweat jacket—the 19-year-old man (I'm not going to use his name and we've blurred him out above) told me the police trespassed him for sleeping in the park and that "the police know who I am, they'll arrest me for jaywalking because they say I sell drugs."

We ran his name and didn't find any drug cases, but he's pleaded guilty to robbery (in 2008) and theft (this year).

SPD referred us to Parks to find out why they trespassed the man from Westlake. Parks had no information for us yet.

Meanwhile, the numbers of protesters who've taken the mayor up on his offer to camp out overnight at city hall has increased by 350 percent in a week.

Here are the counts:

Tuesday, October 11, 2011: 20
Wednesday, October 12, 2011: No stats available
Thursday, October 13, 2011: No stats available
Friday, October 14, 2011: 30
Saturday, October 15, 2011: 10
Sunday, October 16, 2011: 30
Monday, October 17, 2011: 110
Tuesday, October 18, 2011: 80-100
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