If you haven't seen evidence of Occupy Seattle around town recently, it's not just that the grassy plaza where tents used to stand at Seattle Central Community College is now an empty mud field. Since protesters were evicted on December 6, the activists themselves have become introverted and distracted from an agenda to reform Wall Street. Many supporters, including church leaders, have taken a step back to wait out divisive internal conflict. Others have fled the community entirely, saying it's too toxic to touch.
The rift results from a vote taken on December 20, when protesters at a general assembly rejected a proposal that would "commit to using methods of nonviolent civil disobedience at all of our demonstrations..."
According to the minutes of the conversation that led up to the vote, several activists argued that Seattle's protest was akin to the revolution in Egypt (and thus required violent clashes), while others said protesters must be free to use a diversity of tactics, if they choose. A man named Forrest warned that when martial law is declared (in Seattle, martial law?), "How many of us are prepared to stand before rifles, to subvert the police, to do everything possible to bring down the state as necessary?" Another man, named Greg, called the nonviolence pledge a "social fascist position" and a "domestic colonialist view."
Those voices won in a particularly heated 16-to-54 vote, thereby rejecting Occupy Seattle's attempt to declare itself a peaceful movement.
While those loony voices prevailed, cooler heads fled.