- Thomas Patton asks the board to let Occupy Seattle remain on Seattle Central Community College campus; to his left is student body executive Zack Robertson, who says the camp makes the college unsafe.
Posted at 1:30 p.m. and moved up with details from the meeting.
After a hearing blitz of testimony about the growing safety threat posed by an Occupy Seattle encampment on school grounds, all five members of the Seattle Community College District's board of trustees decided to file an emergency rule in Olympia today that would explicitly ban camping on all community college campuses. Chancellor Jill Wakefield says that assistant attorney general Derek Edward will file the order (posted here) this afternoon with state officials. College officials will provide the campers at on the Seattle Central Community College with a 72-hour eviction notice early next week.
Wakefiled told the board: "Eliminating camping is about public safety, not First Amendment rights."
"I have been harassed four times trying to walk through campus," a student named Julie told the board. She echoed the primary angle of critics—from several students to school staffers—about the growing dangers of an encampment linked to an alleged attempted sexual assault last Friday, evidence of drug use, unsanitary food preparation, and public defecation. Julie said she complained to school officials but felt she was "held hostage because we don't have the legal right to evict them." Even student council executive Zack Robertson—after pointing out that he wears a "We are the 99 Percent" sticker every day—said, "We don't feel it is safe to have occupy Seattle on our campus anymore."
But Thomas Patton, who has been camping with the Occupies on SCCC's south lawn, testified, "To dismiss us for a handful of flaws we can commit to managing would be a mistake." He immediately was followed by a man (whose name I didn't catch) saying, "People are not going to back down without a fight. So please work with us to resolve these issues."
SCCC president Dr Killpatrick countered that camp has "not been up to code, and it is very doubtful that they will get up to code." While he commended Occupy Wall Street's goals of economic reform, he closed by saying, "Camping on a college campus is not the way to do it. The attempted sexual assault was the last straw for me."
In explaining his vote to amend part of the Washington Administrative Code that applies to Seattle Community Colleges to ban campers, board member Albert Shen said that "students were adamant about the administration taking action."
But how to remove them? Pepper spray?
"I am going to do everything I can to ensure a peaceful process," Wakefield said after the meeting." That said, if the occupiers don't leave on their own, she continued, "I will work with the state patrol and the Seattle Police Department."
Karen Strickland, president of AFT Seattle Community Colleges, Local 1789 (the teachers' union), called the recent use of pepper spray of protesters from UC Davis "horrific," adding, "I don't think there is any place for the use of force [to remove the occupiers in Seattle]. There are ways we can avoid it if we come together and figure it out."
One source familiar with the Occupy Seattle legal team says lawyers are planning some form of legal action to stop the anti-camping order from taking effect.
UPDATE: SCCC spokeswoman Patricia Paquette says that while the 72-hour notice is a minimum requirement to comply with the emergency rule, "it does not imply immediate eviction."