Police make arrests at Westlake protest
Seattle police Thursday night arrested several Occupy Seattle protesters Thursday night and one protester was briefly detained this morning in the ongoing demonstrations in Seattle's Westlake Park.
Seattle Times staff reporters
Seattle police arrested several Occupy Seattle protesters Thursday night and one protester was detained this morning in the ongoing demonstrations in Seattle's Westlake Park.
Ten protesters were arrested last night after they refused to leave a tentlike structure set up in Seattle's Westlake Park.
Amid chanting and beating drums, saxophone music, cheers and jeers, the 10 protesters were removed from the tent and arrested.
About 7:30 a.m. today, a man was detained after it appeared he was trying to take some items back from parks workers who were cleaning out the area.
In live streaming on the OccupySeattle website Thursday, several protesters commented that the police were being very friendly as they moved into the crowd before the arrests began around 10:30 p.m.
Police targeted protesters who were surrounding the tent and inside it.
It was a three-sided white cloth affair — not a real tent, and it was eventually removed by police while five protesters were still inside. They were left behind, sitting in a circle with linked arms. Toward 11:30 p.m. police were standing over five people who had linked arms sitting in the middle of the park. It was unclear whether they were being reasoned with or cited.
And then the police left amid loud cheering from protesters.
This morning, the man who tried to take some items back from parks workers was detained briefly by police. As officers approached, the man ran a short distance, then went to his knees and collapsed. He sat cross-legged on the ground surrounded by three officers while parks workers continued their daily morning clean up at the park.
Seattle police Assistant Chief Mike Sanford tried to quell several protesters who claimed that their friend was wrongfully detained. Sanford said that officers "are not there to make arrests unless we have to."
Each morning, parks workers and police surround the protesters and ask them to pick up their belongings so the ground can be washed and trash can be collected. This morning two garbage trucks and about a dozen parks workers gathered at the site.
About three dozen protesters were at the park this morning; they said 30 had spent the night at the park. Sanford said that police have been allowing the protesters to be in the park all night long, as long as they aren't "camping."
Thursday had been a busy day at Westlake. At about 9:30 a.m., police moved about 75 Occupy Seattle protesters from the park, according to an Associated Press report. This was in preparation for a long-planned labor rally scheduled to start at 10:30 a.m.
Labor leaders offered dramatic speeches about potential job losses, health-care cuts and a frustration with politics to a vocal crowd waving political signs.
Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina, chairman of the state House Ways and Means Committee; David Freiboth, executive secretary of the M.L. King County Labor Council; and others spoke in support of jobs creation and unity among the labor groups.
Speakers voiced opposition to Initiative 1125, the Tim Eyman measure they say will upend planned highway projects, and anger at Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, who was in Seattle for an afternoon fundraiser.
"These guys need the jobs," Hunter said as he walked through the crowd of union members. "The building trades are having a depression."
Several hundred feet away, on the other side of Westlake Park, some Occupy Seattle protesters still at the park continued their hacky-sack game and their breakfasts. Some occasionally looked up, toward the crowd of more than 100 gathered for the labor rally.
Jesse Thompson, a 21-year-old protester, said he was confused by the labor groups' messages and how they connect with what his protest group stands for.
"I think that they're with us, but I'm not quite sure," Thompson said as his listened to the rally. "It sounds like they're supporting the 99 percent, but it seems like they're more focused on jobs."
Occupy Seattle is a spinoff of the Occupy Wall Street protest challenging government policies protesters say favor the superrich. They say 99 percent of Americans are suffering economically while the top 1 percent prosper. They are in the second week of their occupation of Westlake Park, in the heart of downtown Seattle's retail core.
The labor protest was planned before Occupy Seattle took over the park, both labor officials and protesters said.
Dee Powers, a spokeswoman for Occupy Seattle, held a protest sign not far from the labor rally.
"They want their changes," Powers said looking toward the labor groups. "We stand by them, in solidarity."
An Occupy Seattle protester spoke during the labor rally. The group is ramping up for a large, overnight protest at Westlake Park on Saturday, something it has dubbed a "night of 500 tents." It will coincide with other "Global Day of Action" protests across the globe, according to the Occupy Seattle website.
"Seattle needs your help to reclaim our occupation [of Westlake Park]. We cannot maintain our space unless we attain critical mass. ... Seattle is one of the top corporate headquarters of the world," the website asserts.
Tents are forbidden inside Westlake Park, and people are not supposed to stay in the park after it closes at 10 p.m. Two Occupy Seattle protesters were pulled from a tent and arrested Wednesday night, though police ignored another ersatz tent — a tarp flung over a rope tied to two trees — and both Wednesday and Thursday nights, they did not arrest the rest of the protesters who stayed in the park after 10 p.m.
Group members planned to continue their protest through the night Thursday, Powers said.
"It's getting worse, and they really do want us out," said Powers, who protests during the day but returns to her Seattle home at night. "We're not leaving. We will go wherever we can be heard."
Information from Seattle Times archives is included in this report.
Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or email@example.com
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