Occupy Everett group has permit to camp in courthouse plaza

EVERETT — The Occupy movement has arrived in Everett.

Several dozen people met Wednesday evening at the Snohomish County Courthouse plaza to sort out the logistics of a long-term sit-in.

The county has granted the group a facilities use permit that allows people associated with Occupy Everett to set up tents in a grassy area in front of the courthouse.

Nobody needs a permit to protest but one is necessary to camp overnight at that location. There’s no end date to the permit.

The county also plans to provide portable toilets, garbage cans and Snohomish County deputies on scene for the protection of people protesting, Snohomish County Deputy Executive Gary Haakenson said.

“We believe in their right of free speech, and we’re trying to allow them to do that,” Haakenson said.

Two deputies will be assigned at all hours as needed, Snohomish County Sheriff’s spokesman Kevin Prentiss said.

“That means if nothing is going on, those resources will be sent back to their normal assignment,” he said.

Those deputies won’t cost taxpayers extra because they would normally be working the same hours.

The cost of the potties, however, will be picked up by the county at around $360 a month.

The Occupy protests began in New York City last month when people descended on Wall Street to express displeasure with social and economic inequality.

Since then, the movement has been adopted by people in communities across the U.S. and abroad.

An Occupy Wall Street website describes itself as “a leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions.”

Wednesday night, the group that gathered included older couples in warm, sensible jackets; a young person with piercings and another eating pizza straight from the box; a man who came wearing a bandana over most of his face; and a gruff-spoken man with a peace sign on his jacket.

Several people indicated they have been involved in the Occupy Seattle protests.

A facilitator — not a leader — laid out some ground rules: no discrimination, no violence, respect toward others.

Somebody wanted to talk about dismantling the banking system. Somebody else wanted to get politicians to say whether they support the movement.

Yet another person pointed out that’s pointless. It’s about people, not politics, he said. When people agreed, they raised both arms in the air and waved them. That statement got some hand waving.

The group organized into several committees to handle practical matters such as safety, tactics, outreach and food.

As of Thursday afternoon, there were no tents set up in the space.

Debra Smith: 425-339-3197; dsmith@heraldnet.com.

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