Occupy Olympia demonstrators vacate park, abandoned building


by Associated Press and KING 5 News


Posted on December 16, 2011 at 6:49 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 13 at 4:16 AM

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Occupy Olympia demonstrators have left the vacant building adjacent to their original Heritage Park encampment following requests from Olympia Police Department officers in conjunction with Washington State Patrol.

After demonstrators voluntarily left the abandoned health department building, police searched it and found no remaining people inside. No arrests were made.

Earlier this morning, WSP cleared Heritage Park, moving demonstrators to another area of the park while they removed camping equipment. According to WSP, the officers found "obvious biohazards" within the camp, including hypodermic needles. WSP said the demonstrators cooperated in the removal of the campsites.

Occupy Olympia demonstrators had remained camped in Heritage Park early Friday in defiance of a state eviction order with some moving into a vacant building across the street, declaring it the Rachel Corrie Community Center.

A demonstrator who only would identify himself as “Will” said he and others went inside the building to try to establish a community center and homeless shelter.

“We’re taking this seriously,” said Will, “We’re not here to take someone’s private property, we’re here to actually fill some needs.”

A demonstrator who did not want to be identified said the Occupy Olympia movement is far from dead.

“The movement won’t be over until it’s changed. Until there’s something better,” he said.

Spokeswoman Elinor Paulus said she expected a couple of dozen people who remain in the park they have occupied since mid-October to be evicted. The state Department of Enterprise Services posted eviction notices at the camp Thursday, citing concerns with drug use and graffiti.

Paulus said about three dozen people moved into the two-story building that once served as housing authority offices but was bought by a developer who had planned a high-rise condo tower.  Protesters found the doors opened and quickly moved in, hanging banners from the building that read "99%" and "Occupy Olympia." They do not have permission to be inside.

Troopers said they are only responsible for clearing out protesters at Heritage Park, not at the building. It would be up to Olympia police to deal with the protesters who have moved into the empty building, said troopers.

KING 5's Natasha Ryan contributed to this report.