Originally published Friday, November 18, 2011 at 4:02 PM

Occupy Seattle protesters should inspire, not irritate

Every Seattleite stuck in traffic during Thursday rush hour is one who becomes less supportive of the message of Occupy Seattle.

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OCCUPY Seattle reached two negative milestones this week — first, when Seattle Police used pepper spray to control protesters; second, when protesters thought it was hunky-dory to shut down University Bridge.

Occupy Seattle and Occupy Everywhere Else have long been delicate balancing acts with hundreds of mostly peaceful people expressing dissent by camping in parks, then not camping in parks, marching on banks, marching on speakers from banks.

All of it is tenuous and challenging. Both sides have a duty to manage themselves well, otherwise this could devolve into something more like Seattle's disastrous 1999 World Trade Organization (WTO) protests.

Occupiers have plenty of space to lodge peaceful protest: The camping location is now at Seattle Central Community College.

Protesters in New York who blocked streets around Wall Street mostly used the pedestrian promenade to stage their protest on the Brooklyn Bridge.

Every Seattleite stuck in traffic during Thursday rush hour is one who may become less supportive of the message of Occupy Seattle.

Police in other cities have gone overboard and caused extra problems. Oakland is the worst example of overly aggressive protesters and cops.

Seattle cops should review the use of pepper spray. They should have arrested those threatening officers or protecting those threatening officers. Pepper spray can be useful, but it is also indiscriminate.

Mayor Mike McGinn was right to apologize for spraying peaceful protesters, although rules have to be clear and he must be careful not to undermine officers on the front lines every day. But what else could he do once the spray left the canisters?

An after-action report on Seattle's WTO debacle concluded, among other things, that chemical irritants should be a last resort and physical arrests are a preferable first step.

This past week was a big one for the movement nationwide. Occupy Wall Street reached its two-month anniversary, just as police in several cities, including New York, were banning tents and camping gear.

Protesters staged extra events this week to say, in essence, we are not giving up. OK, but increasing disruptions may turn an event noted for its mostly peaceful protesters with considerable public support into something less attractive.


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