State clears Occupy Olympia

January 4, 2012

OLYMPIA, Wash.--State officials ordered the eviction of the Occupy Olympia encampment from a state park adjacent to Washington's Capitol building, and the next day, dozens of state troopers moved into the park, dismantling dozens of tents and clearing the camp with no arrests.

According to activists, about three dozen people moved to a vacant building across from the encampment--the facility once served as the county health building. But according to press reports, the troopers surrounded the occupied building after clearing the park, and activists left voluntarily.

The Seattle Times reported that Occupy activists were planning their next move, which included ongoing weekly meetings at the state Capitol.

The Occupy Olympia movement had camped in Heritage Park since October 16. on November 11, the state Department of Enterprise Services, which manages the park, asked activists to leave voluntarily. Now the park has been cleared by mandate.

Gov. Christine Gregoire, a Democrat, justified the expulsion as a matter of public safety. "I can't sit where I live [the governor's mansion] and look out and worry about whether those people are going to death down there." She added that she wanted Olympia residents and visitors to feel comfortable walking along Capitol Lake, which borders the former encampment--and to visit area businesses without "concern."

The governor who suddenly fears people freezing to death is the same governor who approved $10 billion in cuts to close state budget deficits over the past three years, while refusing to consider any methods of raising revenue. The cuts have come in education, health care and other social services--resulting in many people being left out in the cold.

Now, facing an additional $2 billion projected deficit for the next two years, the governor is proposing an increase in the state sales tax to cover about a quarter of that amount. This would further the burden on the state's poorest people, who already face the most regressive state tax system in the country.

Now that the Occupy Olympia camp has been taken down, Gregoire won't have the "look out" and see a real solution to the budget deficit--raise taxes on the state's wealthy elite and rich corporations.

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