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The tents were gone, and many of the people.

We went downtown again last evening. We took an airpot of coffee and disposable cups. Walking around, we handed out java and listened to organizers try to rally the decimated crowd. In exchange, we received copious thanks — and a sporty Occupy Seattle button, white background with the fist logo in black. It felt a little like a campaign medal.

Enthusiasm was still evident, but it was getting colder and wetter and they now knew the police really would — even here in Seattle, even after Mayor McGinn’s duplicitous flirtations — round them up and haul them off for breaking the rules. For tenting in the park, thus “preventing use” by others.

Just to be clear, the “others” who might have been “prevented” include groups who had put in for a permit, such as the Target stores film crew, two other demonstrations, and passers-by.

With nary a cop in sight while they were there, the Target folks had no issues with the protest encampment. They shared their bathrooms with the sign wavers. The protesters shared their refreshments with the security guards. Not a single protester was seen in the film area, even after hours.

As for the other groups who had competing park use permits, they included a group protesting the tenth (not a misprint) anniversary of our turn in the “Graveyard of Empires” and another group celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Both groups stated they’d be overjoyed to share space with like-minded malcontents.

But you’re not a malcontent, surely. You shouldn’t be down there. You shouldn’t go there and talk with people yourself, and you certainly shouldn’t encourage them with comfort items like warm blankets or hot food. Don’t even honk when you drive by.

You need to rely on professionals to get the story for you.

Professionals like KOMO News Four, your local news team that portrayed the peaceful arrest of two dozen or so protesters as a “violent clash.” Protesters locked arms and surrounded those remaining in their tents in defiance of Malaprop McGinn. Police shouldered them apart, pried out the last tenters and took them downtown to be processed for obstructing an officer.

More professional than their leadership, SPD cops didn’t come in with Plexiglass shields and riot batons. They came in wearing their bicycle helmets. Nobody stroked his bat a la NYPD and declared “my little nightstick is gonna get a workout tonight.”

Occupy Seattle protesters didn’t toss Molotovs, break windows or scuffle with police. Their briefings in non-violent protest and dealing with police have been regular and thorough. Most are carrying ACLU cards with “rules of the road” for civil disobedience under the hard gaze of the law.

Some protesters started to chant about our Wet Coast officers being tools of Wall Street; a few others yelled, “Fucking fascists!” Some cops’ faces tightened, but no punches were thrown. No sticks were pulled, no Tasers charged. Just a coterie of cops executing one of their thousands of unpleasant and sometimes terrifying duties — and then a thing happened. Someone with leadership potential grabbed the bullhorn and reminded everyone there that the cops were working people, too: part of the 99 percent.

Right then, the street theater of people being arrested for the willful inconvenience of their beliefs turned from a potentially nasty scuffle to a rather professional interaction.

In the background, KOMO’s reporter gabbled on about the violence in Westlake, and how the mayor had no choice but to renege on the city’s hospitality toward free speech because people were being prevented from using the park and there were sanitation issues due to lack of toilet facilities. In the background of KOMO’s shot, citizens walked freely through the park, past the two Honey Buckets, visibly unmoved by the unfolding terror.

The tents are gone now, but the signs are still there. Clinging to the edge of the curb, Occupy Seattle shows its plumage in a solid bloc along Fourth Avenue, waving signs that weave a hundred issues into a central message: “our United States of America needs to do better, and we’re tired of asking politely.”

Don’t encourage them. They’re rule breakers, sign shakers, aid takers… park campers. They refuse to work within the system. Don’t go down there.

The last thing you want to find out is how many of them have one or more college degrees and no job, or PTSD that they can’t document to the VA’s satisfaction. You don’t want to be reminded that most Americans don’t want to be at war with half the world, or how laughable it sounds to say “call your Congressman” after calls ran 300:1 against TARP bailouts. You don’t want anyone to remind you that Blackwater and its ilk siphoned off hundreds of Special Operations troops that you paid to train.

So don’t go down there. The odds are pretty long against a scruffy band of young people making any headway against a government that got itself bull-washed into socializing private investor debt. You leftover hippies from the Baby Boom, patronizingly sneering at today’s marchers because “they’re holdin’ it wrong” — you’re seriously the last people who want to show up at Westlake with a handshake and an encouraging word.

Why? Because the generation to whom you handed a bucket of shit will preside over your retirement, and they are unemployed and angry in numbers not seen since the Great Depression. They might just call you out for looting their birthright, and wouldn’t that be embarrassing?

Enjoy your Goldman years.


  1. Lbugbeeno17 says

    Jack- it was great meeting you the other night along with dktr_sus. I love your writing!!

  2. Greg Drevenstedt says

    Strong work, Jack.

  3. I sincerely hope someone sought out that bullhorned voice of reason and patted them on the back. Cause that’s just brilliant.

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