This morning I received an email from a neighbor who had been in Westlake Park Wednesday night. Here are a few things he wrote about it for his Facebook page:
About 150 people gather at the stage at the north end of the park, chanting and cheering, with another couple hundred around the periphery. There is a great flurry of activity in the center as a few policemen come in to arrest the man who has erected a yellow tent and is refusing to leave it. Actually, I don’t see these specifics, but heard them later. What I see are dozens of cell phones raised in the air, a guy with a big T.V. camera wading into the center and people chanting “The whole world is watching!”. Then a struggle close to me – some guy going nuts, shouting and flailing. Immediately, people swarm around him and work to calm him down.
Also near to me are about 20 people sitting on the pavement, arms and legs wrapped around each other to form a tightly intertwined “human blanket”. Here is the hard core group, ready to be arrested and determined to peacefully resist.
However, the police withdraw from the park, having made their one arrest and removed the yellow tent. They do not issue an order to vacate. The scene becomes a party with drums and whoops and dancing on the stage and excited conversations everywhere I turn.
I spoke to him briefly before heading downtown to see how the Occupy Seattle movement is progressing.
Upon entering the park I met Derek, a Community Outreach greeter who is assigned the task of informing people wandering into the park what the event is about.
He asked if I knew about was going on, and I said yes I was here last week. We talked a bit about how this protest might progress and how Mayor McGinn was in kind of a tight spot sympathizing with the protesters now, and how he will eventually get pressured by the downtown suits to end this thing. Will it get violent? We don’t know. Tonight’s “Night of 500 Tents” might tell us something.
Moving through the crowd to the stage where dozens of people are queued up to take part in the “Speak Out,” I took photos of many of the protest signs.
I listened to several passionate speakers tell the crowd why they were there and what they were fighting for. This guy was a union laborer who told us that the “job creators” were really job destroyers who laid off thousands of Americans and shipped jobs overseas.
This guy is an Iraq War Veteran against the wars. He spoke of the trillions of dollars we’ve spent on wars that we could have spent at home on education and healthcare to improve our own country.
This is David Korten of Yes Magazine who spoke about what great changes this protest and other Occupy events around the globe would bring.
This singer performed John Lennon’s “Working Class Hero” to much applause.
While wandering about the square I came across a man devoted to spreading the word that Corporations are Not People via his organization named SeattleMovetoAmend.org. We talked a bit about the Citizen’s United decision and about Thom Hartman’s book, Unequal Protection. I am a big fan of Thom Hartmann, who I had seen last night on Real Time with Bill Maher.
I left the event thinking that the Occupy Wall Street movement is just going to keep getting bigger and it’s going to keep spreading across our country and around the globe. People who say they don’t get what it’s about aren’t paying attention. It’s pretty simple really: The vast majority of people in this country are pissed off at how so much wealth and power the 1% richest among us have accumulated. The 99% aren’t going to put up with it anymore. The structure has to change.
This speaker put in simple terms, “There are two ways we can go about this: Reform or Revolution?”
The top 1% better start paying attention if they want to avoid the revolution.