Breaking News: State Orders Occupy Olympia to Leave — UPDATED X11
UPDATES IN THE COMMENTS BELOW.
Earlier today, the director of the state Department of Enterprise Services, which manages Heritage Park, sent a letter to Occupy Olympia ordering them to remove all tents and other structures by 12:01 AM Friday morning, saying the continued occupation “pose[s] health and safety risks.” The letter adds that all personal property left in the park after that time will be removed.
Representatives of several local faith organizations and social service advocacy groups have been in the park, working to connect protesters who are homeless with shelter. Said one such representative, “The question I’m starting to ask people is, where are you sleeping tonight?” The Salvation Army has opened it’s overflow homeless shelter, which normally only opens with the temperature dips below 32 degrees and which holds about 20 people. Some local churches were preparing to make room as well. However, homeless advocates said at least some people will likely return to homeless encampments in the woods.
Many residents of Occupy Olympia seemed to be preparing to leave. According to one social service worker, “Most folks, at least the ones I’ve talked to, seem fairly accepting of their need to depart.” As of 4 PM this afternoon, there were 80 tents in the park. This is down from a peak of about 120 tents a few weeks ago, though some had left before today’s announcement from the state.
However, at least a few residents at the protest said they planned to stay and face arrest.
Occupy Olympia members were planning a rally at Heritage Park at 10 PM.
New photos from about 8 AM:
About 50 state troopers in riot gear are hanging out a block away from Heritage Park.
A dozen or so protesters slowly carry tents and personal belongings out of the park. The state patrol has not taken any action to remove them.