Photos by Steve Shay
Executive assistant and West Seattle resident Cathy Weirather protests on 4th Ave. in front of Westlake Park downtown Saturday with over 2,000 other Occupy Seattle protesters. She said she is not against large corporations in general, but does not like how America is evolving. Click above photo for more.

SLIDESHOW: West Seattle protesters rally behind Occupy Seattle movement

Over 2,000 Occupy Seattle protesters, many from West Seattle, crowded Westlake Park Saturday afternoon on 4th Ave. between Pike and Pine streets. It was the largest crowd yet since the protest began Sept. 26. Occupy Wall Street began Sept. 17 in Zuccotti Park, New York City, as protesters there took a stand against corruption in big business and banking that they believe benefits the wealthiest one-percent of Americans while the other 99-percent are neglected.

Such groups have now been reported in over 85 countries, including Italy, Iceland, Indonesia and South Korea.

WEST SEATTLE RESIDENTS WEIGH IN

"I am here because I want to be part of this extremely important movement," said West Seattle resident Deborah Lawrence, protesting with her husband, Mike Derry. "I'm excited that new kinds of people showed up instead of just the same old Leftists, which I am one of," she added. "I don't like the criticism that people are leveling at them, that they don't have an agenda. They do. It's a populist movement."

"I'm really frustrated with how our country is evolving," said Cathy Weirather, a Gatewood resident and executive assistant who was waving a cardboard sign from the curb to traffic passing by on 4th Ave. "There is so much more that should be done that's not being done. Howard Schultz of Starbucks emailed his employees and about 50 other top CEO's not to make political contributions.
The purpose was, I believe, to stop and think about what that money is doing, and to get their attention to act.

"Yes, he is a 'one-percenter' but he gives his parttime employees benefits and is good to his people. I'm not against corporations whatsoever. I mean, my God. Look, we've all got Nikes on. I've got my cell phone."

She shared Lawrence's enthusiasm about the young, diverse crowd. "There are families down here on Saturday," said Weirather. "It's fantastic. People honk and wave, and the 'Ride the Ducks' bus goes by and people on board go nuts. it's a lot of fun. We're all in the same boat."

"I've been involved in political activism for about 10 years," said Kendra William, sporting a "Rolling Thunder" T-shirt, another, national, protest group. "I have protested for years. I know what this is about. It's very heartening to see new, young people becoming involved in protesting. All of us are getting a little tired. It's their future so they've got to get out here and fight for it."

For Stuart Ferguson, a resident near Camp Long, this protest evokes the government hypocrisy of the Vietnam War. "I got called up by the Reserves and was sent to Vietnam on a Navy ship," he said. "And we knew it was a joke then when we were on the ship. It was real early in the war. All kinds of traders from France and Canada were going to North Vietnam and we were trying to stop weapons and supplies going down from North Vietnam to South Vietnam, so 50,000 people were killed playing a game.

"Right now the powers that be are blaming all these problems of the financial system on the working class of America," he added. "Your pensions, high salaries, entitlements. Barf! I worked for a public utility, covered by a union. The unions protected you from killing yourself on the job."

He said the crowd of protesters have gotten a bad rap in the media so far.

"It started out with what the TV people like to call 'the hippies,'" Ferguson said. "They lump us all in and say we need to get a job, take a bath. But it's normal people down here."

"We're being screwed over by the American aristocrats, the bankers," said Kaya, a Westwood/Fauntleroy resident. "I'm here because I'm not a fringe person and I feel there needs to be more main stream people coming out to protest."

"This is the third time I've been down here," said Denise Henrikson of Westwood. Her handmade scale of justice prop was getting a lot of attention. On one side was a globe. On the other, a big foam dollar sign.

"It asks, 'What do we value, our planet, or money?'" she said of her scale. "Not to say they have to be mutually exclusive. But there are people making so much money at the cost of our planet and all living things."

"I'd like to see the reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act," said Brian Lally, a professional singer and classical guitar player who lives near Providence Mount St. Vincent. Other protesters held up signs referring to Glass-Steagall.

According to Investopedia.com, the Glass-Steagall Act passed by Congress in 1933 prohibited commercial banks from collaborating with full-service brokerage firms or participating in investment banking activities. It protected bank depositors from the additional risks associated with security transactions. The act was dismantled in 1999. Consequently, the distinction between commercial banks and brokerage firms has blurred; many banks own brokerage firms and provide investment services.

"I'd like to see a lot of regulation of the derivatives, and also futures speculation which inflates the cost of commodities and makes gasoline and food products so high," Lally said. "This causes a detrimental effect around the world because the cost of rice, flour, other food commodities are too expensive for people to afford."

"I was here last weekend and the weekend before that," said Tiphany Overzat, who wore a belly dancing costume to the protest. Some dancers performed.

"The banks, and Wall Street should be held accountable for what happened during the economic crisis," she said. "We're sick of bailing them out. We're sick of them being rich off of the backs of the poor and the middle class. The middle class is slowly disappearing. If we don't have change soon the middle class will no longer be. We'll just be poor, or rich. I'm from Wichita and grew up on food stamps. My mom was a single mother of three at 37, working a job and trying to finish her education. Luckily, I am middle class, but I'm here for those people who are poor and don't have medical care."

And her dancing outfit?

"We need to lighten the mood a bit, get people smiling, she said. "Music and dance is beautiful and it is all part of the revolution and change."

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