54 Occupy Seattle participants stepped off of a bus and onto Olympia soil Monday morning. I was not one of them. I had arrived the night before in order to help prepare for the state wide call to action. Many others drove, came early, came late or took public transportation.
Around 11:30 occupiers gathered in at least 4 different locations. I began the march along with several hundred others at Heritage Park. The street was immediately taken by marchers enthusiastically chanting the all too familiar slogans, with a few new twists. “Who’s state? Our state!”
The first tributary occurred as we converged on Sylvester Park, where we were greeted with speakers who of course wanted us to join their cause. It was not a bad cause but I decided to stick with fighting greed and corruption. They were willing to join us however so our ranks, now nearly doubled in size, continued on to the World War II Memorial. Here we joined as many as a thousand others, including a four story helium suspension sign indicating, of course, that we are getting screwed. Our reception was gracious, full of smiling faces and cameras. We were definitely at our rowdiest, I think they liked that.
By the time we made it to the Senate we were thousands strong. There was a group of teachers and students who had been busy in the meantime. A Garfield High School teacher had been arrested for attempting a citizens’ arrest on the legislature. Occupy never even got a chance to get kicked out–the students and teachers had already shut down proceedings. We were however able to get some action when they attempted to reconvene the special session in a different building. We discovered this with four minutes to spare. Four minutes was enough. Around half of the group marched to the Cherberg building. Only around 400 people would fit inside of the marble hallway however. I am uncertain of what the folks outside did. Inside, forceful chanting and hand drumming of doors and marble walls created an impressive racket. Legislators made their way out through the crowd like dripping water, one by one, some quiet and some chanting with the crowd. Before long the State Patrol locked the outside doors to incoming protesters. Having successfully headed off the budget cuts for the day protesters slowly made their way out to join in their choice of several other actions.
The first action I encountered was rather hysterical. A large group of several hundred had decided to simply march around the capitol dome chanting and walking at a quick pace, some even jumping and hopping forward in excitement. When I asked a building worker what they were doing he gave me a funny look and replied “I don’t know, just going around in circles!”
I chose to enter the capitol building. Another several hundred had been taken in a lengthy (several hours) discussion on the steps interior of the Senate. I took this opportunity to explore the three stories of pure marble walls, floors, columns and ceilings of our capitol. Truly amazing, I suggest you all go down to see for yourself. One of my favorites was a bust of Martin Luther King inscribed with moving statements, encouraging the occupy movement to continue its actions. Ironically one of the several evil donors listed was in fact the late great Washington Mutual. Oops. Mother Theresa also adorned either side of the foyer, beaming down at the occupation from her 14 feet of robes and supporting words. As was with Mr. King, inscriptions adorned the walls, encouraging the Occupy, teacher and union movements to accelerate protests.
Inspired by the beauty and common sense I had found indoors, I left the discussion to the crowd for the WWII memorial. I made my way down the steps, through another protest of some 500 people listening to inspirational reggae. At the WWII memorial I wandered around reading the various plaques and inscriptions. Of course, though I cannot be sure I found every one–there were so many–every one I did read seemed to me a call to action. Every single one, from a personal request from a fallen soldier and a salute to the MIA, to our governments call to arms was a passionate call for me, for you and for everybody to Occupy Everything.
In other reports a friend of mine, a great man and a great protester, was shot with a tazer 7 times that evening, at least once for lying down in front of a state commandeered bus. I wasn’t there though. To this fact I would like to add how amazingly cool the State Patrol was during the daylight protest. Truly a remarkable force. I had some great interactions with them on several occasions. As for what happened in the evening, well I believe lessons were learned on both sides.