The Seattle Community Colleges board has voted for an emergency ban on camping on community college campuses, effectively evicting Occupy Seattle’s main camp from Seattle Central Community College.
The unanimous vote comes after weeks of complaints from the college, students. and neighboring businesses about sanitation, drugs, and crime at the camp.
The school says the ban takes effect Monday, and it could be perfect timing.
The special session in Olympia begins on Monday as state legislators take up Gov. Chris Gregoire’s $2- billion-in-cuts budget. And lefty activist group Washington Community Action Network announced this afternoon that the 99 Percent movement will be there to set up “a continued presence.”
Their statement reads:
After $10 billion in cuts since the Wall Street Recession began, the 99% have had enough. The 99% Movement — Occupy groups, labor unions, and community organizations — will be joining together to have a continued presence at the Capitol during the Special Session.
It’s time to end unfair tax breaks and raise revenue. Families and communities are already feeling the affects of the budget cuts. Throughout the first week of the Special Session, thousands of people will be mobilizing for actions to bring the demands of the 99% to the Capitol.
A (very) small group of Occupy protesters still have a small camp set up at City Hall, although the majority of the Occupiers previously refused Mayor Mike McGinn’s invite to take their protest to City Hall Park.
Michael Dare, the man who currently holds the permit for Occupy Seattle’s camp at City Hall, says he “would welcome them to camp in the plaza.” However, he says, “the question would be whether they can live with the rules of City Hall.”
Here’s the statement from SCCC about today’s vote to ban camping:
Trustees at the Seattle Community Colleges voted today to approve an Emergency Rule prohibiting camping on college property. The vote came during a special board meeting that included testimony from students, college representatives, and members of the Occupy Seattle encampment that took up residence at Seattle Central Community College on Oct 29.
The emergency rule becomes effective Monday.
College officials pledged to work with Occupy Seattle to close the camp. “Our goal is to ensure an orderly process for the campers to leave Seattle Central Community College,” said Seattle Community Colleges Chancellor Jill Wakefield. “Next week, we will be meeting with the campers to notify them that they need to move.”
Close to 100 people and a dozen large dogs have been living in tents on a lawn area at the south end of the campus, which is located on Capitol Hill near downtown Seattle.
Dr. Wakefield brought the measure to the board following reports from the Seattle-King County Environmental Health Services Division which noted numerous health and safety issues, including garbage accumulation, improper food handling, feces, and drug and alcohol use.
“Our primary concern has been the safety and well-being of our students, employees and the campers. Public safety and health violations have been increasing, and I’m convinced we have reached a state of emergency,” she said.
The rule is an amendment to Washington Administrative Code (132F-136-030) outlining permissible activities on Seattle Community Colleges property. The new rule, which becomes Section 14, states: “College property may not be used for camping, defined to include sleeping, carrying on cooking activities, storing personal belongings, or the erection of tents or other shelters or structures used for purposes of personal habitation.”
The Emergency Rule will be in effect for 120 days. The college district is also developing a permanent policy.
In her remarks, Chancellor Wakefield affirmed the value of free speech. “As educators, we support free speech and the exchange of ideas that inform our society,” she said. “However, with Occupy Seattle living on the campus of Seattle Central Community College, we are talking about an unsafe environment, and not about First Amendment rights.”