Occupy Seattle moves to Seattle Central Community College

In Uncategorized on November 2, 2011 at 07:58

Occupy Seattle’s recent decision to move its command encampment to the grounds of Seattle Central Community College may have some very practical reasons behind it (click here to listen to some of the early thoughts behind this decision). With the onset of cold weather, OS would have been hard pressed to maintain a physical presence at Westlake Center and the move to SCCC gives the protesters a base of operations that is less likely to result in arrests and actually allows for sleep, more sanitary conditions, and greater access to community support. The plan is to continue to occupy Westlake Center by day and to return to base camp at night to sleep.

Within the context of discourses about the movement, however, this may have been a bad strategic move. Attention may be shifted from the daytime actions at Westlake to the encampment at SCCC. Furthermore, by relocating to a college campus it is more likely that the movement can be portrayed as just a movement by youth, or just a movement by college students, or just a movement by Cap Hill radicals. In relocating, the movement loses some of its ability to defy definition. At Westlake (a broadly defined public space) singularly defined (or limited) discourses about the constituency of the protesters were difficult to make stick. Westlake, like the unmarked body of straight able male middle-class whiteness, is an unmarked space. It does not lend itself to the solidifying of discourses about OS. In fact, Westlake makes it much more difficult to overlook the presence of suburbanites, senior citizens, union members, folks of color, business professionals, veterans, children, blue collar workers, service industry workers, and day laborers in the movement. The move to Seattle Central, though certainly a sound logistical choice for a sustained occupation, firmly places the movement within certain discursive identities (radical student, youth, over-privileged, white, queer). It allows the discourse to set, and in doing so the movement becomes more readily dismissible. After all, we’ve been dismissing crazy college kids for decades, right?


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