And it was a peaceful march downtown, led by a handful of spiritual leaders and devoid of the usual group chants or the familiar bike cop escort. During the half-mile walk, people bought street popcorn and conversationally discussed pepper spray allergies, fighting for veteran's benefits, and the words people have been whispering to feel brave in the face of police or political intimidation. In front of the municipal tower, two security guard concierges politely directed protesters to their destination—SPD headquarters and the department's Office of Professional Accountability—where fresh-eyed 84-year-old activist Dorli Rainey waited, surrounded by members of the press, eager to talk about the Occupy movement and police accountability.
- Being an Occupy figurehead is "overrated," says Rainey. But as long as she has your attention, here are a few of her demands...
Rainey said she has no plans to file a complaint with SPD's Office of Professional Accountability (OPA) for being pepper sprayed on Tuesday. Still, she'd like to see SPD pay for how they've treated protesters. “I want their budget cut," she said. "They need to clean house. Get rid of the poisons. [That pepper spray] was big, like a fountain.”
And she doesn't regret blocking the street during Tuesday's protest. "I’d do it again. And if it happens again, it happens... We are losing our freedoms every second we stand around and do nothing.”
More photos and interviews after the jump.
After Rainey finished speaking and tucked herself back inside someone's pocket (lord is that woman tiny), Reverend Rich Lang—who was also pepper sprayed during Tuesday's protest—called for a "circle of protection" to surround Captain Tag Gleason, a plain-clothed OPA investigator who stepped up to speak with protesters. (Most officers stayed far away from the rally. Six bike cops parked their bikes across the street and watched the protest from inside City Hall.)
- "We are not the enemy," Lang says to Captain Gleason.
The highlights of Lang's speech: "Doing the right thing is never easy... Stop seeing us as your enemy... We are your friends and neighbors... And we might not look like much but we are on the winning side of history... You must stop seeing dissent as a threat you must repress... You’re being trained to provoke and bully... It’s not true that we hate you... We are not here to hurt people or destroy property... We’re not here because we love sleeping outdoors... And you’re one budget cut, one pay cut away from joining us."
Occupy activists then called on "the mayor, the parks department, and City Hall," to investigate SPD's use of force on protesters. The group also demanded that the OPA include the Occupy movement in all complaint investigations from Occupiers, particularly in the pepper spray incidents. There's just one problem: "We've not received any complains in connection to the pepper spray incident," Cpt. Gleason told me. "We have with regards to other Occupy incidents, and we're investigating those complaints.”
When questioned, Lang admitted that he has not yet filed a complaint with the OPA. Neither has Jen, the pregnant woman, or Rainey (who refuses to). And so the protest ended with Occupy activists encouraging each other to report their grievances with the OPA.
- Gleason to protesters: "I suggest that we focus on what we have in common and not let occasions that break us apart become the defining moments. Let's not become caricatures of the groups we represent."
- "I ran into [the officer who pepper sprayed me] and I asked him if he remembered me," said Jen the pregnant woman who was pepper sprayed Tuesdasy. "He said he did and I deserved it. I said, 'That was really fucked up of you.'"
- "I've been pepper sprayed 15 times so I bought this for $60 at the army-navy surplus store." James, Occupy medic.
- A priest, a rabbi, and an Occupy Seattle concierge walk into a bar...