What’s next for Occupy Olympia?

Even after an eviction from Heritage Park, Occupy Olympia protesters remain focused on moving forward with the movement in the same spirit of camaraderie according to Angela Haban, a public relations contact for Occupy Olympia.

Although Occupy Olympia has been evicted and tents have officially been banned from being set up in the park, Occupy Olympia organizers and supporters are still continuing with the movement and planning for the future.

Groups developed during the Occupy Olympia encampment at Heritage Park remain intact and new social forums are being created.

“What really grew out of the whole Occupy experience was a tremendous sense of community. There were people from all different walks of life working together,” said Haban.

“We’re trying to have a conversation with people about corruption in government and corporations,” said Occupy Olympia supporter and South Puget Sound Community College student Dean Hobbs who referenced one of Occupy Olympia’s goals.

According to Hobbs Occupy Olympia aims to persuade the public to move their money into local credit unions from large corporate banks, with Bank of America and Chase as examples of banks Occupy has been specifically targeting.

Occupy Olympia received a letter of eviction from Enterprise Services due to health and safety concerns on Dec. 15 requiring protesters to evacuate Heritage Park by midnight the next day.

In order to take a stance against the eviction and to keep their message that “you can’t evict an idea” alive some protesters moved to occupy the vacant Thurston County Board of Health building on Fifth Avenue before the Dec.16 midnight deadline.

The new space was hailed the Rachel Corrie Community Center, after the former Olympia resident and Evergreen State College student was killed by an Israeli bulldozer while standing up for a Palestinian home.

Washington State Patrol arrived Friday morning in order to get people out of both the Health Department Building as well as the park.

According to Haban protesters occupied the building from approximately 1 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Dec. 16.

“The transition from occupying public parks to occupying private buildings is part of a broader shift throughout the national Occupy Movement,” read a press release from Occupy Olympia.

The number of State Patrol officers was an “absolute excessive show of force,” said Hobbs.

According to Hobbs even though no protesters were resisting police orders there was somewhere around 60 police in SWAT gear.

However, Washington State Patrol spokesman Sgt. J.J. Gundermann estimated about 30 state troopers protected by riot gear were involved in the clean up.

Protesters were not given the opportunity to clean up at Heritage Park said Hobbs. According to Hobbs some protesters were made to leave the park in the middle of cleaning up.

Photo courtesy of David Anthony Wood