Friday, October 14, 2011

Last Night's Toll: 150 Protesters, 80 Police, 10 Arrested, One Very Jubilant Santa

Last night's events at Westlake Park in downtown Seattle marked an emotional evening of arrests, outrage, and support for the peaceful demonstrators that camped in the park.

I was on-scene with the rest of the #OccupySeattle demonstrators and actually lent my laptop and reporting to the Livestream effort to document the events that occurred.  At the peak of our viewership, 2500 people from around the world were watching our Livestream.

Much like the night before, the Transit Station closed at 10:00 PM and 20 minutes later the police moved in to make arrests.  Their target was a Sukkah (a Jewish religious structure in observance of Sukkot) that had been erected in defiance of direction from City Hall and the SPD.  Circling the tent with linked arms were 10 protesters attempting to prevent police from removing their Sukkah, while inside the structure 5 people were also circled, linking their arms.

The crowd erupted into chants of "This is what oppression looks like!" as the police erected a barricade of bicycles and bodies between the main group of protesters and the Sukkah.  The outer ring of linked protesters were removed and arrested by the SPD while the Park Rangers tore down the Sukkot tent with demonstrators still inside.  

The crowd waited for another half an hour for the police to decide whether they were arresting the interior occupants of the tent, and in the video below (which is somewhat dark), you can see the five protesters remaining in the center of a ring of police officers, linked tight, smiling and laughing.  One was wearing a Santa cap (I believe his name is Santos?  Not sure).  You can hear me in the background narrating for the Livestream.

Thanks to Sven Straatveit for video.  

Finally, the police gave up, at approximately 11:30 PM.  They left without arresting the remaining five, and Protester Santa led the crowd in jubilant shouts of triumph as #OccupySeattle declared victory.

Last night's media effort on the part of the Livestream crew and citizen journalists was hampered by difficulties related to limited power sources (the police turn off the power in the square before beginning their raid) and spotty internet coverage.  There will likely be more actions tonight, and anyone with a Wi-Fi Hotspot or other resources that can help our documentation of events is much appreciated.

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