SEATTLE -- Several dozen officers moved into Westlake Park and arrested Occupy Seattle protesters after the group defied police orders to leave the park by 10:15 p.m.
Two people were taken out of the park in handcuffs as protesters continued their occupation of Westlake Park Wednesday night. The Occupy Seattle movement, now in it's second week, held a vote Wednesday night to continue to stay in the park, despite demands from the city of Seattle to leave.
Sound Transit closed Westlake Station as a result of the growing protests.
Occupy Seattle movement as the day unfolded
Earlier Wednesday, students from the University of Washington and Seattle Community College walked out of class and marched to Westlake Park to join the Occupy Seattle movement.
The protesters were a mix of teachers, veterans, nurses, government workers and some students and recent graduates. They were joined later by a few hundred college students from Seattle colleges who marched to Westlake Park, including about 150 in a first wave from SCCC, Seattle U. and Cornish who were joined later by about 100 people from the University of Washington. Some older people arrived with the students, presumably professors or graduate students.
As the evening went on, a grass roots effort gathered at city hall for a sit-in. Two people were arrested for criminal trespassing. The movement then headed back to Westlake Park.
Mayor McGinn acknowledges Occupy Seattle's demands
Mayor Mike McGinn on Wednesday acknowledged receiving the list of demands from Occupy Seattle protesters, saying he is willing to continue discussions on getting the protest moved from Westlake Park to City Hall. McGinn has said he supports the Occupy Seattle protesters and offered them space at City Hall Plaza.
“We will engage in discussions with representatives of Occupy Seattle on the conditions for use of City Hall if there is interest from Occupy Seattle in doing so," McGinn said Wednesday morning. "What we agree to allow at City Hall must be consistent with what we would offer any group, and consistent with laws that govern use of public resources."
But McGinn also told city police and park officials to enforce the law at Westlake Park starting Wednesday morning.
"I have instructed the Parks Department and the Seattle Police Department to enforce the rules at Westlake Park, starting this morning. This includes prohibitions against camping and unpermitted activity," McGinn said in a statement issued Wednesday morning. "We are prepared to provide permits for First Amendment uses of Westlake Park during regular park hours."
Occupy Seattle protesters submitted their demands to McGinn's office Tuesday night. Those demands included:
- A meeting with McGinn and Occupy Seattle representatives to discuss long-term occupation
- Four large tents for a kitchen, supplies, medical tent, etc.
- Access to parking
- 24-hour access to individual occupancy shelters
- 24-hour access to the first level of City Hall for restrooms, meeting areas, etc.
- A written statement from the mayor confirming an indefinite occupancy at City Hall Plaza
City plans to enforce the law
City officials have said they will start enforcing the law since the park is closed overnight. Westlake Park is run by the Seattle Parks Department and is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week. Last week about 25 protesters were arrested for putting up tents in the park.
"We've let it go for a few days, but at some point we have to say enough," said Eric Frideli, Seattle Park Department Deputy Superintendent.
Several protesters have decided to move to City Hall, and more are expected to follow, but some protesters say they'll continue to sleep at Westlake Park.
"I think there will be a significant amount of people here who are willing to get arrested in order to prove a point," said Alexander Lupin, protester.
A group of between 20 and 50 protesters have been at the Occupy Seattle demonstration each day since it started. Last Friday, on the 10th anniversary of the War in Afghanistan, that number swelled to several hundred.
Occupy Seattle is part of the nationwide Occupy movement against corporate greed, global commercialization and economic equality.
KING 5's Jake Whittenberg, Liza Javier and Jordan Steward contributed to this report.