Hundreds of Us Occupied City Hall for 18 Hours to Demand the City Stop the Sweeps of Homeless Camps

I was the proudest I’d been in a very long time. The Seattle Times front page looked like this because of what we did at City Hall:

Screen Shot 2017-11-02 at 9.30.43 AM

Housing For All had its biggest direct action since the campaign began. Hundreds of neighbors packed into City Hall for a crucial city budget meeting. We had 150+ people speak during the public comment period, forcing it to run nearly five hours long.

Then, we all camped inside and outside City Hall. Outside we set up tents. Live bands played inside. The next morning dozens of us did a die in on the lobby floor to represent the 66 people who had died outside this year (the number has since been updated to 78).

The action was meant to show force and demand the City Council pass two proposals. One would stop the police sweeps of our homeless neighbors, the other would tax the city’s biggest corporations in order to help fund homeless services and housing.

We had a huge success as we controlled the conversation, drowned out the opposition in the room, and dominated several Seattle news cycles.

Here’s what it looked like inside council chambers during the nearly five-hour testimony. The red signs had names and ages of homeless neighbors who have died this year:

Screenshot_2017-11-05-14-27-06Screenshot_2017-11-05-14-27-34Screen Shot 2017-11-10 at 12.56.05 PMThat’s me about to speak in the photo above. I signed up to speak and was number 25 of more than 150. I showed a lot of emotion and also began yelling. I wanted to show how upset we are with the police sweeps. I felt it was my duty to convey urgency to the best of my ability. I called out councilmembers by name to their faces. I urged them to care for our most vulnerable neighbors, especially since this is the first city budget since Trump took the White House. This is what I looked like:

Screen Shot 2017-11-10 at 12.56.44 PMScreen Shot 2017-11-10 at 12.57.20 PMScreen Shot 2017-11-10 at 12.59.11 PMI’ve gotten comfortable talking to council. In fact, we’d been at a budget meeting just one day prior and I was echoing the same message.

City Council Candidate Jon Grant was there for our campout and posted this from the room downstairs that was serving as an overflow room for hundreds of folks who couldn’t fit into the main chambers:

Screenshot_2017-11-01-20-51-20My testimony was reported in several media outlets including KUOW, KIRO-TV, and Capitol Hill Blog. So, I felt my theatrical minute in front of council had done its job, it had done what I was supposed to do as an activist, get attention to the issue. Here’s how one outlet reported it:

Screen Shot 2017-11-02 at 10.04.38 AMThis is what I posted on Facebook during the hearing:

Screen Shot 2017-11-10 at 12.51.56 PMScreen Shot 2017-11-10 at 12.51.45 PMSome of the noise we were hearing in the council chamber was a live jazz band singing “Stop the Sweeps” in the City Hall lobby:

Screen Shot 2017-11-02 at 11.05.56 AMThis is what the campout at City Hall looked like outside on the building’s plaza:

Screenshot_2017-11-02-09-24-00Screenshot_2017-11-03-07-21-39Screen Shot 2017-11-10 at 12.51.33 PMAnd, the next morning, this is what the die-in looked like. City Hall staffers had to walk over us as we laid there for 40 minutes during morning rush hour. It was broadcast on all our local TV stations:

Screenshot_2017-11-02-13-48-37Die inHere’s what it looked like for those of us who slept inside. This is what a friend posted on Facebook:

Screen Shot 2017-11-02 at 9.40.16 AMThe campout of dozens of homeless folks continued as they moved to a different location in the city. This is what the newspaper stand looked like at one of their locations:

Screenshot_2017-11-02-13-41-19And this was an alarming headline only about a day later:

Screen Shot 2017-11-10 at 12.50.29 PM

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