Homeless find home at Occupy Seattle, so is it still a protest?

Oct 10, 2011

More and more homeless people are joining protesters occupying Seattle’s Westlake Park. The Occupy Wall Street movement has a special attraction for people who sleep on the streets.

When you walk through Westlake Park, in the heart of downtown Seattle’s shopping district, you notice the donated tarps and sleeping bags on hand to keep people warm. And there's a big tent where you can get a cheese sandwich or receive first aid.

If you don’t have a home, it seems like a good place to hang out. 

But, the homeless people I talked with on Monday afternoon said it's about a lot more than that. 

"I think it’s a beautiful cause.  It says in the constitution that when the government becomes corrupt it's our duty as Americans to stand up against it and change it and that's what we're trying to do," said a young woman who goes by the name Murphy.

Sitting near Murphy was Delmar Bryant. He says he’s lived on streets all over the Northwest.  He believes Occupy Seattle is the start of something special.

"We’re in America and our history has been to stand up for what we think is right and there is a way that we have done this in our country and this is one of the ways.  No matter how it looks,   just be really  glad that someone is standing up for our rights,” he said.

Uncertain McGinn

The Mayor of Seattle, Mike McGinn, is wrestling with what to do about this ongoing protest at Westlake Park. He says he supports the cause and even brought coffee to protesters on Sunday. He says it’s important to highlight the gulf between the haves and the have nots.  But McGinn is also hearing from local businesses and residents upset with the mess and noise.

When asked if he’s concerned that Westlake could become something of a homeless haven, McGinn says he is. 

"I think that’s one of the reasons Westlake Park is not intended to be a place for camping. It's just not a compatible use with the other uses of the park," he said during a news conference on Monday.

The city says protesters cannot set up tents or spend the night. Many are staying in Westlake Park 24/7 anyway.

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