The Occupy Olympia movement has decided to move from Sylvester Park in downtown, just one day after beginning its protest.
During a general assembly meeting Sunday afternoon in the park, a group of about 100 discussed relocating to Heritage Park. The group decided to move Sunday evening, according to a spokesperson for the state department that maintains the Capitol Campus, including Sylvester and Heritage parks.
Supporters pointed to the public bathrooms and electric hookups at Heritage Park as reasons for the move, as well as poor ground conditions at Sylvester Park.
“This is not the spot,” said Alex Daye of Olympia, who had concerns about the grass at Sylvester, adding that it would turn into a “big mud puddle.”
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Those opposing the move said Heritage Park isn’t as visible, that a relocation was playing into what the authorities wanted and that tents should go up at Sylvester Park as scheduled. Others wanted to keep both sites occupied, with Sylvester Park acting as a “town center” for activities and meetings.
The Department of Enterprise Services supports the move, said spokesman Steve Valandra. Valandra said Heritage Park provides more amenities and better ground.
Both parks have camping restrictions, but Valandra said tents would be allowed.
“We’re trying to accommodate their free speech expression, and we don’t have to be heavy-handed about this,” he said.
About 80 people spent Saturday night in the park. No arrests were made, according to the Washington State Patrol. Troopers said there was a noise complaint of someone playing drums Sunday morning but that the issue was resolved.
Those taking part in the movement Sunday included people from all walks of life, including families, students, working professionals, the disabled and the homeless.
Leon Janssen, a student at The Evergreen State College who also works as a painting contractor, said the movement goes beyond politics and status.
“For me, the movement represents people who care,” he said. “It’s hard to voice (your opinion) when the system isn’t structured to hear demands.”
Daniel Whitehouse, 52, cleans carpets for a living and said he has a problem with the government spending money on war when teachers are being asked to take pay cuts.
He said he believes the goal of the movement is to “let government know that we’re not going to take it anymore.”
That feeling is growing across the nation.
Protesters in at least four U.S. cities who were part of a growing anti-Wall Street sentiment were arrested after refusing to obey police orders to leave public areas, including 175 people in Chicago. Authorities in Arizona arrested nearly 100 people after two separate protests in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.