Occupy Seattle busy organizing itself
More than 150 took part in the Occupy Seattle protest Sunday at Westlake Park as the movement began to form a list of demands.
Seattle Times staff reporter
The Occupy Seattle protest at Westlake Park took steps to focus itself Sunday, forming a general assembly and organizing work groups aimed at sustaining a 24-hour presence downtown.
As the protest entered its second week, the rally continued to have the trappings of an encampment: a food station, sleeping bags and a cacophony of signs all touching on the theme of disenfranchisement.
But it also began to look more organized: People wore colored armbands to associate themselves with specific groups working on specific needs — such as fundraising, communications and developing a list of demands.
They also are engaging people through a website, occupyseattle.org, and by cellphones: People can text "occupy" to 68398 for updates.
"We're finally starting to get organized and move things forward and that's very exciting," said Dee Powers, a volunteer media spokeswoman.
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn stopped by, bringing coffee and voicing his support for the protesters' cause. But he also stood firm on the city's policy of not allowing camping at Westlake Park and offered to let the protesters camp at City Hall plaza.
A whiteboard at the Occupy Seattle welcome table showed walkouts planned Wednesday at the University of Washington and Seattle Central Community College.
It also showed general-assembly meetings every night this week at 6:30 p.m.
Many of those who held up signs to honking cars Sunday were new to the Occupy movement, which started as a sit-in in mid-September at Wall Street in Manhattan. They shared a sense that a growing inequality in America is harming the bottom 99 percent of society.
Alex Neilson, 28, held up a sign protesting the power of corporations to influence political campaigns. Neilson, who got out of the Army five years ago, has been unable to find full-time work.
"We thought we'd done the right thing," Neilson said. "I went to school, I served my country, but it's not working out anymore, and I think that's why there are so many people out here."
It's unacceptable that so many veterans are returning home without jobs and can't get into already full community colleges, said Hank Galmish, 62, who teaches English at Green River Community College.
To critics who've dismissed the Occupy movement as a bunch of anarchists and others on the political fringe, Galmish says look deeper: He's middle class. He pointed to the crowd of more than 150 people mingling in the commons.
"This is America, if you ask me."
Sanjay Bhatt: 206-464-3103 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Morning Memo
The Morning Memo jump starts your day with weather, traffic and news
Career Center Blog
Your Opinion Matters
Take our survey and enter to win $100. Enter Now!