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City of Seattle

October 4, 5:23 PM click here to comment > 70

Mayor’s Statement on Westlake Park Protest

I support the efforts of the protesters at Westlake Park to address this country’s economic situation. In my budget speech last week, I stated:

“We are facing unprecedented inequality in this country. It is always true that bad times are harder on the poor. But we have not seen income inequality this great since 1928, the year before the Great Depression started. The top 1% control 34% of the nation’s wealth. The top 10% control 2/3rds of the nation’s wealth. It is an unprecedented grab by the most powerful to get a bigger share of a shrinking pie.”

I also support the right to protest, and I support the right to protest at Westlake Park. Individuals and groups are welcome to continue exercising free speech rights.

Like all of our parks, Westlake Park is owned by the people of Seattle. No one group can use a park to the exclusion of others, no matter how worthy the cause. Day in and day out, Westlake Park is heavily used by the public. In the coming days and weeks there are several events and protests that have received a permit to use Westlake Park. This includes a group with a permit to mark the ten year anniversary of the war in Afghanistan and a group with a permit to mark International Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Erecting tents in the park has the effect of displacing others who have a right to be there. Therefore, we will be asking those who have set up tents in Westlake Park to remove them.

Posted by: Mayor Mike McGinn


Comment from Teresa Valdez Klein
Time October 5, 2011 at 10:55 am

The organizers of both protests you cite here have said that they support the occupiers’ continued use of Westlake Park – and as a “person of Seattle,” I also support their use of the park, tents and all. The tents are a symbol of the occupation. Support the occupation!

Comment from Nicholas Nakis
Time October 5, 2011 at 12:28 pm

There is another protest in Westlake park next Monday, the 10th, against the so-called “holiday” Columbus Day. Many people do not feel that the United States should sanction a celebration of the life of a mass murderer and slave trader. What does Mayor McGinn have to say about that?

Comment from Robert Becker
Time October 5, 2011 at 1:40 pm

The Mayors statement on the Occupy Seattle encampment in Westlake Park is a joke.
It is a paper thin excuse for shutting down the local part of a growing national movement.
Using the names of permitted rallies/protests as a means to shut another one down is wrong.
I’d be pissed off if I was with ANSWER or with the International Indigenous Peoples’ Day groups.
Did they ask the Mayor to speak for them?
I’m pretty sure both groups would completely support the Occupy Seattle protest and join it willingly sharing Westlake Park together.
Their causes are along the same lines and have the same goals. End corporate rule of this nation.
The whole idea that a permit is needed to be in a public space is wrong.
A tool of control by the city and police department to suppress the peoples constitutional right to assembly and free speech.
So is the Mayor saying that the KIRO Winterfest carrousel that takes up half of Westlake Park for over a month is an incorrect use of public space?
Should a corporate backed event be able to occupy Westlake Park for days on end? Nope.

Leave the Occupy Seattle encampment alone.
Be on the right side of history.

Robert Becker

Comment from J. Glenn & Barbara Evans
Time October 5, 2011 at 1:49 pm

We urge you, the Mayor, and City Council members to support those occupying an area of Westlake Park. You will lose support from the majority of Americans who support and believe in the protests taking place around the nation. The 99% of Americans have no other option but civil disobedience in the face of widespread criminality from Wall Street.

Instead, the city should take bold action and give support in the form of outdoor toilets, water, food, sleeping bags. Why not show the rest of the nation that Seattle is a progressive city that takes care of its citizens.

While you are at it, evict the corporate group, Fresh, occupying most of the space. Why is big business allowed to occupy a public park?

The other two groups who have scheduled events at Westlake are not reasons to arrest or evict the folks in tents. They welcome the presence of those encamped there. Jane Cutter of ANSWER Seattle stated, “We urge no one to be fooled by this transparent attempt to pit progressive causes against each other. We see the Occupy Seattle protest as being one and the same with our planned Oct. 7 protest against the 10th anniversary of the Afghan War. In fact, our young ANSWER activists in New York City were among those arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge on Oct. 1 with the Occupy Wall Street protest. It’s time to ‘unoccupy Afghanistan’ and support the poor, not the war.

“Similarly, our brothers and sisters in the Native Peoples Alliance with Friends and Allies, which is hosting the Oct. 8 Indigenous People’s Day event, see the Occupy Seattle protest for social justice as interconnected with their cause which is justice for Indigenous people and political prisoners.”

Of course, those of us occupying Westlake will not just tolerate the protests but welcome them, and no doubt many of us will join in as well. We all stand together.

Comment from Rob
Time October 17, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Not 99%. Maybe 20%.

Comment from Andrea Faste
Time October 5, 2011 at 3:02 pm

Instead of using police force to remove tents from Westlake park, tell the police to ask protesters to move to the front doors of the major banks, where they can stand beside the bank doors with signs or flags to make their issues visible to the banks. I recognize that clogging Westlake Park is not worthwhile, but I also believe this message of monied inequality must be heard.

Comment from Thalia Syracopoulos
Time October 5, 2011 at 4:02 pm

While the tents take up space in Westlake Plaza they do not occupy the entire park and there is plenty of space for those who want to sit/wander through/buy hot dogs etc. Indeed, last night the great bulk of the park was taken up by an 18 wheeler that was parked diagonally across the area near the arch. Even with that, there was plenty of space for visitors to explore the park and speak with those who are occupying a portion of it. There is no need to take the tents down. No other city has evicted those who represent us, the 99%, when they have occupied space in other cities. (Although I did hear that Spokane might evict those who are occupying a park there). PLEASE DO NOT MAKE SEATTLE ONCE MORE THE PARAGON OF OPPRESSION OF FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND ASSEMBLY. Let them stay, and grow and perhaps finally catalyze the changes so desperately needed in our society.

Comment from Jean
Time October 5, 2011 at 5:45 pm

Mr. Mayor, these are citizens of the city you were elected to serve who are exercising their right to free speech. Do not turn this into another WTO.

Comment from Michael Love
Time October 5, 2011 at 7:35 pm

Stop arresting the protesters for using tents. There is plenty of room for everyone.

Comment from Barbara Martin
Time October 5, 2011 at 7:56 pm

Why is it that there is no ability for you to compromise with the Occupy Seattle group? Why not work together as a team, if your support is so strong? A lack of compromise is so much of what is wrong with our government today. Set yourself apart, show yourself to be a true man of the people and worthy of your position. Speak with the organizers, your people and your constituents, and compromise!!

Comment from Wendy Smith
Time October 5, 2011 at 8:00 pm

The thing is, those people in Westlake speak for the people of this city, and this country right now. The “occupy” movement is saying out loud what people in this country are experiencing and know and think and feel, and what politicians at every level don’t want to hear, which is “You are part of the problem. We are hurting out here and you are not representing our interests. You are representing the interests of corporate America. We recognize you as bought and paid for. We want different leadership and, indeed, a different way of governing and living.” How long can you silence that message, I wonder?

Comment from Eric Rehm
Time October 5, 2011 at 8:09 pm

Mayor McGinn:

We want it to be Tahrir Square, Egypt.
It appears you want it to be Pearl Roundabout, Bahrain. Shame on you!

Comment from Lorraine Pozzi
Time October 5, 2011 at 8:42 pm

I was one of the Marching Turtles during the WTO. I recall the way the police escalated conflict – even peaceful turtles were perceived as threats to LAW AND ORDER.

The other groups wanting to use Westlake have said unequivocally that they are happy to share the space.

So what exactly is Mayor McGinn’s point?

Comment from Gabe Herbertson
Time October 6, 2011 at 1:03 am

You are no present, nor have you ever been. You are a liar and a complete twofaced, heartless trader to the people that voted for you.
Take off the mask of a grassroots, compassionate or decent human. Please don’t try to pose as one of us anymore.

Comment from Eric Rehm
Time October 6, 2011 at 8:42 am

Mayor McGinn:

We want it to be Tahrir Square, Egypt.
It appears you want it to be Pearl Roundabout, Bahrain. Shame on you!

Comment from Mack
Time October 6, 2011 at 12:09 pm

Dear Mr. McGinn: I was a supporter of yours. I am no longer. You have ignored the fact that the other groups to use the park in the offing have given Occupy Seattle their support. You apparently believe that pressure washing is more important than democratic momentum. You have made your choice for elite authority and against democratic will. Therefore the people will elect a replacement for you. It is sad that you missed a golden opportunity.

Comment from Ron in LFP
Time October 6, 2011 at 1:05 pm

Bring back the Marching Turtles.
But no one should be allowed to take over any park. You and I have to leave when the park closes, so no tents. Good for Mayor McG.

Comment from Mary Travers
Time October 6, 2011 at 2:50 pm

Saying you support the People’s movement while acting against the protestors without compromise is disingenuous. There is no reason to make those people stay outside in Seattle’s rain, without shelter. Many here are suggesting a compromise for night use and a couple of supply tents left all day. To not do so puts your mayoralty in peril. Target has a permit, so the serious and supported national movement must move along? If you do not want a Tahrir Square, it is best to find a middle ground. The people, united, will never be defeated. You are our mayor. We, the people, support this. Act on our behalf, not Target’s –in the name if “fairness.” This is not business as usual.

Comment from Rachel
Time October 6, 2011 at 2:53 pm

Wow, how contradictory to state the you support the efforts of the protestors, and then turn your back and have them arrested. Police made 33 arrests yesterday while Parks and Recreation employees removed tents. This is the age of information, my friend. Your propaganda does not work if your actions say otherwise.

Comment from Rob
Time October 17, 2011 at 3:55 pm

Take down the tents. Go protest by doing community service. The tents are hindering my rights to the park.