Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Why Sleeping At Westlake Is Important

The sleeping situation at Westlake Park for the 99% has come to a pivotal moment in the shape of the Occupy movement in the Emerald City, with roughly eighty percent of the protesters electing to take City Hall up on its offer for relocation to a more legal venue for camping, namely outside City Hall.  As a caveat to that accession to the authorities, Occupy Seattle has demanded that the first floor of the building remain open for restrooms and that a dedicated parking spot be made available to the protesters.

A courageous few have decided to stay in Westlake, and these few are, by all reports, urging others to join them.  The authorities have made it plain that anybody left in the park at 10pm will be arrested, and those choosing to stay will almost certainly spend the night not in the park, but in a jail cell.

Debate has been furious on the topic, with certain writers (Dominic Holden) taking to certain publications (the ever more milquetoast Slog) to make their assertion that people who knowingly flout the law in pursuit of social justice are not attempting to get their demands met, but are instead simply seeking arrest.  If you can stomach it, read his missive in which he calls stalwart activists "loons":
But a few folks have been pushing to stay at Westlake. These were the "fight the power" loons who mucked up the larger group's earlier decision to move. They seem to be saying that the point isn't longevity, maintaining a presence, or keeping this issue in the media—it's just getting arrested. 
If there are arrests tonight, chattering media yakkers will be tempted to say that those people are the Occupy Seattle movement. But by all indications, they're not. They're the slim minority. If a handful of outliers want to get arrested, great. They should just be civil in their civil disobedience. But if that handful of people break off from the group—that is, if over 100 people people decide to move to City Hall and just a few rabble stay behind—let's not tell ourselves that those few people are Occupy Seattle. Those are just the people who want to get arrested.
Mr. Holden and other naysayers would do well to examine the underlying reasons for breaking the law to prove a point.  In this case, City Hall has attempted to divide and undermine the protesters' position by forcing them to do what City Hall wants.  Those who object to this are not crazy, they are stubborn, and it is only through the stubborn repetition and reiteration of their position will they achieve victory.

Those seeking to stay in Westlake are not just loons who are out seeking arrest, they are people who are saying "I have no fear of arrest and you cannot control my message with handcuffs."

So, Dominic Holden of the Slog, please, just can it.  You may not feel that your convictions are worth getting arrested for, but these people do, and leave them to it.  They will be busy making history.  You're just making bad commentary.


Occupy Seattle has rejected City Hall's offer and will be continuing to camp in Westlake Park.  The Tweet and my reaction:

If you live in Seattle and want to show your solidarity, reports of a police sweep of the park at 9:30 PM is lighting up Twitter.  If you choose to not get in the way of police, Occupy Seattle is recommending that you stand on the sidewalk and not in the park.  Take pictures.  The only way to fight police brutality is to document it.

ANOTHER, LESS IMPORTANT UPDATE:  The Slog, yet again, thinks staying in Westlake is silly blah blah blah.

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