Occupy Seattle Protesters Defy McGinn, Say They’re Staying In Westlake Park

Occupy Seattle has apparently declined McGinn’s offer to allow protesters to set up shop outside of city hall, and say they’re not leaving Westlake Park.

From the Occupy Seattle blog:

A recent story by King5 News has caused some confusion by giving the impression that we are moving our occupation from Westlake park to City Hall in anticipation of ANSWER’s march to Westlake to mark the 10 Year anniversary of the Afghanistan war. Just to be clear, General assembly has NOT agreed to move and we are staying at Westlake. ANSWER’s march does not conflict with what we are doing and our two movements stand in solidarity with each other. We will remain at Westlake and support their rally and they in turn have shown nothing but support for our presence and our occupation.

Throughout the week, Mayor McGinn has appeared a bit torn between his own lefty hippie politics, and his job as, y’know, mayor.

On Tuesday—three days after Occupy Seattle moved into Westlake Park—McGinn issued a mixed statement saying one the hand he supports “the efforts of the protesters at Westlake Park to address this country’s economic situation,” but asked protesters to remove their tents from the park, with the city giving the group a supposedly hard deadline to clear out of the park by Tuesday night, or face arrests.

But police never enforced that deadline, which seemingly emboldened the group.

The next day, the city gave up on their hands-off approach, and police moved in and arrested 25 people. The arrests drew tons of attention from media outlets—like TV—which had, up until then, largely ignored the protests.

After taking a hard line and shining an even bigger spotlight on Occupy Seattle, McGinn once again done an about-face, and offered to let Occupy Seattle come play in his backyard.

By rejecting McGinn’s latest attempts to frame himself as a man of the people—a statement issued Thursday included a pontification on the “unprecedented concentration of wealth and power in this country”—Occupy Seattle is effectively daring the mayor to send in police to make more arrests, which would only draw more attention to the seemingly ever-growing group.

McGinn’s gotten himself in a bit of a pickle after setting a precedent for a hands-off approach to the protests. Now he’s going to have to try to arrest his way out of this conundrum, give up control of the park to protesters if they decide to stay put, or fully embrace his lefty credentials and join them.