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Originally published July 4, 2012 at 7:45 PM | Page modified July 4, 2012 at 11:56 PM

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Dollar bills rain down on Seattle streets

Activists threw $5,000 in bills off a downtown Seattle building Wednesday in a "money-drop" protest of money's influence in politics.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Activists tossed $5,000 off a downtown Seattle building Wednesday to protest money in politics.

Dollar bills came swirling down just after 5 p.m. at Seventh Avenue and Pike Street, to the delight of tourists. The money was printed with the words "money as speech silences us all," a statement of protest against court rulings that consider political donations from businesses a form of free speech.

According to the activists' website, the money will go back into general circulation and get their message out.

Holly Rozner, a tourist visiting Seattle from Chicago with a group of friends, fetched $14 from the sky.

"I just saw it coming down," she said. "I didn't think it was real."

Matthew Toles, a photographer taking pictures of the money drop, said a "shower of money" lasted between five and 15 minutes. At first, people carried on with their business, not realizing that it was money fluttering down, he said. The wind blew some of the money onto a bar awning and into a nearby alley, sending people hunting for cash on windowsills and Dumpster lids.

Even though they dropped the money as a publicity stunt, representatives from Occupy Seattle and an affiliated group called #MicCheckWallSt would not comment afterward on the drop or how they pulled it off.

"I'm going to have to say, 'No comment,' " said Emily Ravenscraft. "It will be explained."

In a news release, the activists said they talked to a woman who had been trying to collect money for a bus ride. She paid her fare with dollar bills from the drop. A manager at a nearby restaurant collected more than $100 off the restaurant roof, the news release said.

#MicCheckWallSt is an offshoot of Occupy Seattle and, like that group of activists, has no leaders and operates by consensus. #MicCheckWallSt participants don't vote, according to their website, and instead conduct community outreach and peaceful demonstrations.

They provided a printer template online so people could print the "money as speech" message on dollar bills at home.

On Valentine's Day, the same group tossed $500 off the top of a parking garage on Third Avenue. A video of that event shows bills swirling through the sky while people dodge buses, scrambling into the middle of the street to collect them.

#MicCheckWallSt raised the money using a website that promised, "Every dollar you donate is guaranteed to be thrown off a building."

Staff reporter Janet Tu contributed to this story. Emily Heffter: 206-464-8246 or eheffter@seattletimes.com.

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