October 10, 2011
The Stranger’s Dominic Holden reported umbrellas that are not being held by a standing individuals are considered structures, and therefor are illegal at the Occupy Seattle protest in Westlake Park. That’s right. Umbrellas are illegal in Seattle:
Police are aggressively clearing people out of the park. Cops are telling people they can’t stand underneath the awnings, can’t wrap themselves in a tarp, and can’t even sit down with an umbrella. “You can’t have an umbrella open unless you’re standing and holding it,” a cop reportedly just told a few people who were sitting down next to their umbrellas. Paul Contant, intrepid reporter, just called to confirm that person’s account. And he added, “The cops are lined up under the awnings—I tried to get under an awning to type and and they told me I cannot be under the awning at all.” Police are also telling people they can’t lay under a tarp.
Occupy Seattle’s Facebook page explains how umbrellas legally become “structures”:
There is a lot of confusion about what is going on at Westlake right now as some structures have been taken down by the police. From the Occupy Seattle Police Spokeswoman:
In Westlake Park no sleeping structures are allowed (our information/food/medical tent is!) and sleeping under the awnings is not allowed. You cannot have tarps tied down to anything, but you can have them covering yourself. You can have umbrellas but someone must be holding them at all times, if left unattended they are considered to be structures. Blankets and sleeping bags are okay! We are not being kicked out of the park at this time.
I spent time at Occupy Seattle interviewing protestors last night and today. I can tell you no one was worrying about the legality of umbrellas. They were worried about making less money today than 5 years ago. They were worried about raising a family on minimum wage, while banks gouge them for more money just to use their accounts. They were worried about corporations taking over the political system. They were worried about environmental degradation. They were worried about the cost of war, while our own infrastructure collapses around us. They were worried about how they were going to pay off student loans, when no jobs were available after graduation.
No where on any sign, or out of any protester’s mouth did I hear someone mutter, “I wish Mayor McGinn would more closely regulate the use of umbrellas in Seattle.”
UPDATE: Occupy Seattle has asked concerned citizens of Seattle to call the police to ask them to allow the protestors to protect themselves from the rain (206)625-5011.