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Originally published October 16, 2011 at 9:09 PM | Page modified October 17, 2011 at 6:15 AM

Youngsters join Occupy Seattle protest

The Occupy Seattle protest now has an emergency phone tree for parents spending the night at Westlake Park with their children — an indicator of the small but growing number of families taking part in a movement of discontent.

Seattle Times staff reporter

quotes Youngsters aren't joining the protest. Their irresponsible parents are bringing them... Read more
quotes Bringing your newborn to the protest? Come on. Leave the kids out of it. Keep them... Read more
quotes human shields:) Read more

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The Occupy Seattle protest now has an emergency phone tree for parents spending the night at Westlake Park with their children — an indicator of the small but growing number of families taking part in a movement of discontent.

As the local offshoot of Occupy Wall Street enters its third week, an estimated eight children — including a 2-month-old — slept overnight Saturday in the downtown Seattle park.

Protesters continued Sunday to defy the city's law against tents in public parks, with about 150 tents pitched from Pike Street to Pine. No arrests were made overnight Saturday, but protesters said that from about 2 a.m. onward, officers circled the encampment, awakening them in their tents. A police officer who was not authorized to speak said their job was to make sure the protesters didn't sleep.

"They took the (rain) flap off my tent and told me we need to wake up and leave," said Tacoma resident Cindy Miller, who shared the tent with her 15-year-old son, Brandon. He'd held a sign for hours on Saturday that said, "We need jobs."

Rosemary Spolar, 21, a student at Cornish College of the Arts, said police passed by her tent every 20 minutes, tailed by a protester playing a ukulele to give sleepers early warning. Police asked if she was awake and pointed flashlights into her tent, she said.

"I think I maybe got two hours of sleep," she said.

As the evening cold clamped down Sunday evening, activists settled in for another night. Police had made no arrests by nightfall, and activists declared their intention at the night's general-assembly meeting to pass another peaceful night in the park. Sunday's protest had dwindled to a core of several hundred.

Mark Jamieson, spokesman for Seattle police, said he would not discuss police plans for managing the park Sunday night. And while the law requires the park to be closed by 10 p.m., "the city has been very patient," Jamieson said, "and the department has been very patient. Everyone knows what the rules are. Police work allows for discretion."

On Saturday afternoon, the crowd swelled to an estimated 3,000 for a nonviolent march on Chase Bank and sit-in on Fourth Avenue at Pike Street.

The emergency phone tree they set up is in the event that parents get arrested or otherwise separated from their children. Organizers also discussing the possibility of creating a safe play area for children.

"I see this getting bigger, and people are bringing their kids," said Taylor Werner, 22, of Bellingham. She brought her 3-year-old son, Solomon, to Saturday's march and spent the night. The boy, whose jacket sported a sticker Werner says a police officer gave him, delighted Sunday in scaring crows in the park.

Asked what she hoped the protest would achieve, Werner said, "I would like to see adults in the world employing skills they should have learned in kindergarten."

In the chilly morning air Sunday, Amanda Dorrough, 23, clutched her 2-month-old child, Seren, after an evening spent sleeping outside. She and her partner, Brendan McNamara, brought the baby and Caydance, their 20-month-old, to the protest to make a statement.

McNamara said he's an "underemployed Web designer" who repairs computers on the side. The couple live in a homeless shelter in Sequim right now but decided to spend the weekend with the Occupy Seattle protesters.

"This is the first time anything like this has happened in our lives," said McNamara, 25. "We're representing families and there are so many families out there on the street."

Miller, the Tacoma mother, said it was important for her to expose her teenage son Brandon to the protest.

"If people don't say anything and don't think they can do anything then nothing changes. I want him to know that there are a lot of people who care about the future of this country."

The 35-year-old Miller was laid off in 2009 from a sales management job and hasn't found work. Her teenage son has been looking for jobs too, so he can save up money to buy himself a car.

"He's very determined to get a car, and that might not happen," she said.

Sanjay Bhatt: 206-464-3103 or sbhatt@seattletimes.com

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