The Occupy protests near the University of Washington on Nov. 17 drew people from around the region including some from our area. L to R Elsa Bratres, Rahawa Havte, and Temneet Shale of White Center. --- CLICK THE PHOTO ABOVE TO SEE MORE
SLIDESHOW: Occupy protests near UW drew local participants
The Triangle Park at 2500 NE Pacific Street across from Husky Stadium was the gathering point for hundreds of people from all over the state, including people from West Seattle and White Center voicing their anger over the lack of living wage jobs. Many unions were represented as well as nonunion workers, folks who are unemployed, and college students fearful of the future they are facing with large college debts hanging over their heads.
To make their point they marched West down NE Pacific through the University District and on to the University Bridge to highlight the need for improvements to our nation’s infrastructure.
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Improvements to bridges and highways would create living wage jobs that could help bring the economy back on its feet.
The marchers were allowed to stay on the University Bridge and disrupt traffic for almost an hour and a half by police. By that time the marchers said what they had to say and exited the bridge peacefully.
Many people have asked what the point of the Occupy movement is, and the answer is that it is ultimately an individual expression of frustration and outrage that has coalesced as an effort to draw attention to their suffering and hopefully to drive political change. To better understand what that means, the West Seattle Herald sought people from our area to share the reasons for their involvement.
What follows are some on the street interviews with residents from West Seattle and White Center.
Temneet Shale of White Center
I: How long have you been here this afternoon?
T: I’ve been here since I got out of class so I’ve been here since about 3:45.
I: What is your purpose here today?
T: I’m one of the peacekeepers with One America organization. We’re basically going to keep people where they need to be to stay out of trouble unless they are participating in civil disobedience and want to get arrested.
I: What is One America? Explain that.
T: One America, …we are the largest immigrant advocacy organization in the state of Washington and I’m going to be an intern for them next quarter… and I’m a student here at the UW.
I: If Pres. Obama were standing here right now, what would you like to say to him?
(Temneet’s cousin) we want him to push his Jobs Bill so he can invest in people and improve the infrastructure instead of corporations
T: Yea, what she said… no, but with all seriousness, the South Park Bridge, has deeply impacted our entire community… our commutes in the morning are much more annoying, terrible, frustrating… and if the South Park Bridge gets fixed we don’t have those problems anymore and people can get jobs and it’ll do much better for the community than just the bridge being back.
Pablo Drape of West Seattle
P: my name is Pablo. I live over in West Seattle, close to white center.
I: What would you like to see come from this?
P: That it’s not just for a few people, it’s for more people who come along.
I: So if Pres Obama were here right now, what would you say to him?
P: It’s been to where he’s been behind closed doors for a while now and it’s time for him to open the doors and get what he’s said…like jobs.
Larry Nielson of West Seattle
I: How long have you been here tonight?
L: About 3 hours.
I: And what do you expect to come of this whole event, Occupy Seattle?
L: More community building, more movement solidarity with Occupy Wall St.
I: Tell me about your situation.
L: Well I’ve got plenty bitch about here. I’m a 57 year old man, I used to be middle class…but… after the last…well things started going really radically wrong right after George W. Bush entered the White House but it went really badly south about the time of the huge wall street implosion of ’08… right after the election of that year I was laid off from my job and uh…basically haven’t worked since…just a few temp jobs here and there… a few weeks, a few months… my unemployment benefits ran out so not only am I in the 99% but I am a 99’er. I ran out about a year ago. I got tossed out of the place I was living, which was nothing to be proud of anyway. I wound up living in my car through all of last winter, when I couldn’t line up house sitting, couch surfing thing at a friends house. I have a roof over my head now, I’m living in West Seattle… it’s a bed bug infested bordello but it’s fairly cheap. My mother is helping me out with that…my 86 year old mother. She’s taking her retirement money to help pay my rent. I was on disability for my heart disease, arthritis and other ailments, until about a month ago and they threw me off disability. You know they were only paying me $196 a month, so how much money were they really saving me? So I went to my attorneys and they said “No, just appeal this. They are throwing everyone off en masse. They think 1/3 to ½ will not have the followup to want to appeal it all the way through, they’ll wash their hands of them, they’ll go away, the state will not have to pay for them. At least for the time being, they’ll save all kinds of money, it’ll look good on their balance sheet.
I: So if pres Obama were standing here right now, what would you say to him?
L: How about all his promises on the environment, the economy, that I worked so hard for you as a delegate for you in the ’08 election Mr. Obama? Thoughts on this for the 99% now? Are you going to show your colors and stand with us? I didn’t see you out there on the Ohio plebiscite. You didn’t even make a statement on the collective bargaining. Are you going to stand with the workers of Wisconsin for the ouster of Governor Walker?
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