In a unanimous vote Wednesday afternoon in front of a Seattle Central Community College board room overflowing with students, Occupy Seattle campers and media, the community college system’s trustees voted unanimously to pass an emergency rule prohibiting camping on the Broadway campus. UPDATE: Occupy Seattle says it is filing a lawsuit to block the emergency rule. Details below.
The rule effectively is an eviction notice for the 100+ Occupy Seattle protesters who have been camping at the school since late October. School president Dr. Paul Killpatrick tells CHS the rule will likely be enforced in a few weeks following its filing in Olympia next Monday.
Killpatrick said the “last straw” for him was learning about the sexual assault at the camp being investigated by police.
School chancellor Jill Wakefield said the college is working on a permanent ban to take effect after the 120-day emergency rule ends. She recommended the board approve the emergency rule prior to Wednesday’s session. The Stranger has posted the text of the emergency rule here.
Prior to the board’s vote, the public comment period was dominated by speakers in support of the camp. The American Teachers Federation union rep Karen Strickland said that Occupy Seattle was still “figuring out how to best make their impact” and needed the school’s assistance. The relationship instead has been “adversarial,” she said.
Another speaker who said he had been a resident of Capitol Hill for seven months said the school was overplaying the negative health and safety impact of the camp. “Your park is cleaner now.”
CHS reported on the King County Health Department reports on the camp conditions here.
One SCCC student who did speak out against the camp’s presence on campus said she had been harassed multiple times and wanted the group removed from her school.
Another camper asked the school to plan the end of the Occupy Seattle camp with the group. “Set a date so we can take the steps together,” she said. School officials said after the vote that they would take that request to heart and work to bring the end of Occupy’s stay at SCCC to a peaceful close.
Derek Edwards from the State Attorney General’s office who drafted the rule, read the document before the vote.
One next move for Occupy Seattle will involve the Occupy the Capitol effort in Olympia. A document about the effort was discussed during Tuesday night’s General Assembly. “Occupy Seattle declares its victory at Seattle Central and votes to move its focus to Olympia,” a speaker read from the proposal.
The proposal also calls for efforts to be made so that those who choose to stay in Seattle can continue to camp at SCCC for the near-term. Other plans include finding a warehouse space in Seattle for a headquarters for the Occupy Seattle effort. In the Central District, protesters continue to occupy an empty house at 23rd and Alder.
Wednesday’s meeting began in darkness with battery powered lights placed on the board’s meeting table as the neighborhood was in the middle of a brief power outage. With no microphones, somebody shouted Occupy’s now infamous “mic check” call but the trustees forged ahead by speaking louder until the power came back on.
UPDATE: Occupy Seattle Lawsuit
Occupy Seattle’s legal team has sent CHS documentation of a lawsuit the group says it is filing to block the eviction of the camp from Seattle Central’s property.
Here’s the statement accompanying the text of the lawsuit and a legal memo in support of a temporary restraining order being filed in the Thurston County Superior Court:
Occupy Seattle has sued Seattle Central Community College in Thurston County Superior Court to prevent the college from evicting Occupy Seattle from the college’s campus. The suit challenges the validity of an “emergency rule” that would ban the presence of tents and other structures at the site based on concerns about health and safety. The suit claims that health and safety concerns identified in two King County Department of Health reports, including the presence of “uncontrolled dog food in uncovered bowls,” can be addressed through existing rules and enforcement by relevant agencies. The suit claims that enacting a broad “emergency rule” against tents is an “arbitrary and capricious” action, which is a violation of the college’s legal obligations. A hearing on the case is scheduled for today at 2:00 p.m.