After a week of occupying Westlake Park, several Occupy Seattle protesters report that police officers have told them to leave the area (the park officially closes at 10:00 p.m.) or face arrest. Here's one of the latest updates:
Stacks of updates after the jump.
Some mixed messages are coming our way. Some people say this was ordered by Mayor Mike McGinn, just hours after he gave a speech at Occupy Seattle, while others believe police are doing this on their own (which would be odd, given that the police department reports to the mayor). McGinn's communications staff haven't answered phones or replied to email. Paul Constant is en route and will soon have an update. Stay tuned.
UPDATE at 11:20 PM: Paul just arrived on the scene, where there are 50 to 60 protesters. "They were told to decamp, and anyone who stayed would be arrested," Paul says. Protesters are now standing on the sidewalk, chanting, and the park itself is filled with a bunch of abandoned tarps. Bizarrely, police reportedly told protesters that if "they just keep marching around the block, they won't be arrested."
UPDATE at 11:27 PM: Paul reports with an update. Lt. Nollette confirms the protesters' account, saying, "Everybody was advised twice that the park closes at 10:00 p.m. and that they could be subject to arrest." Asked if the mayor knew about this, she said, "I have no idea. " Asked who gave her the orders, she laughed a creepy laugh and pointed to the police patch on her jacket. Had she spoken with Chief John Diaz? "No."
UPDATE at 11:41 PM: A representative of the mayor's office is reportedly heading to the scene as the protesters attempt to protect The People's Library from the sweep.
UPDATE at 11:58 PM: Here's video of cops telling protesters they'll be arrested if they don't leave. There's not much to it, just the novelty of videos getting posted online really fast. Oooh, this appears to be a livestream.
UPDATE at 12:08 AM: In case you're wondering, the mayor's media people are completely unresponsive to phone calls, text messages, and email. By several accounts (including this one), McGinn gave protesters another day, but now cops are clearing the park sooner. Has McGinn lost his handle on the police department?
UPDATE at 12:10 AM: The official OccupySeattle feed reports: "No arrests tonight. Mayor's Office has come down to let everyone know that, but they 'can't say the same for tomorrow night.'" In other words, it appears the McGinn had lost control over his own police department and sent someone to intervene.
UPDATE at 12:39 AM: Police on the loudspeaker have now issued a fourth order to disperse. A rep from the mayor's office refuses to speak to Paul Constant at the scene.
UPDATE at 12:51 AM: As per the livefeed that just went dead, the group has called a special assembly. Speakers believe that police don't intend to arrest them, but rather plan to continue repeating loudspeaker announcements that the park is closed in a an attempt to keep them awake all night. Protesters note that 7-11 is selling coffee. A man just announced: "I just want to say that the mayor and police chief are obviously having a political battle and we are caught in between. We should continue to occupy this park."
UPDATE at 1:23 PM: On Twitter, Phil Mocek (who you should follow) writes: "21 people standing arms locked in front of the two police cars, singing. [Lt.] Nollette just drove away."