Mayor Apologizes to Occupy Seattle
November 16, 2011. While we are gratified that Mayor Mike McGinn has apologized to those who were pepper sprayed last night, his statement of apology does not go far enough to assure us that we are in fact protected by the Seattle Police Department or to hold the SPD accountable for their misuse of power.
Since the formation of Occupy Seattle, SPD has been excessive in its presence, its tactics, its violence and its spending with respect to our organization. Occupy Seattle is a movement dedicated to fighting for economic justice through nonviolent protest and nonviolent civil disobedience. The sheer quantity of officers, vehicles, weapons, hostilities and pepper spray was and is excessive and absolutely unnecessary.
We agree with the Mayor that restraint on the part of the police is in order and that a thorough review of the incident is warranted. We ask that the Mayor include Occupy Seattle in the review process as we are arguably the largest stakeholder in its outcome. We also suggest that the Mayor and the Seattle Police Department learn the lessons articulated by Norm Stamper, former Chief of Police for the city during the WTO protests who last week wrote about the protests “My support for a militaristic solution caused all hell to break loose.”“
The Mayor’s apology asks that Occupy Seattle work with the city. We do work with the city. On this particular night, we had informed the police of our march and route in advance so as to assure public safety. Given that the police blocked our passage and then used pepper spray indiscriminately suggests that it is not Occupy Seattle that is unwilling to work with the city, but rather that SPD is not willing to work with Occupy Seattle. While pepper spraying nonviolent protestors is a high price to pay, perhaps this incident will lead to better treatment of Occupy Seattle participants by the SPD.
Formed on October 1, 2011, Occupy Seattle is a leaderless movement of concerned Americans who have taken to occupying public spaces in order to focus our nation’s attention on the undue influence of large corporations on our government, elected leaders and our democracy itself. It is inspired by and modeled after the Occupy Wall Street movement.