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Occupy Olympia Ousted

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The Washington State Patrol and the Department of Enterprise Services have delivered a "Notice to Cease and Desist Camping" to Occupy Olympia at the state capitol.

The camp has been located at Heritage Park in downtown Olympia on the shores of Capitol Lake for over a month. Occupy Olympia's encampment has served as a meeting place and organizing spot for demonstrations at the state capitol against state budget cuts to healthcare, education, and social services. Marches have been launched from there to the state capitol building where Governor Christine Gregoire has called a special legislative session.

The demonstrations made headlines when Washington State Patrol troopers used tasers on a crowd of protesters at the state capitol campus on Nov. 28.

The notice of eviction for Occupy Olympia came at around 8 a.m. on December 15. The deadline for the occupiers was set for midnight January 16. According to an email sent out by the activists, the order from the state says that the WSP and Dept of Enterprise Services will seize all property at the camp.

The Heritage Park site is much more than just a collection of tents - it is "a site of protest and resistance, a movement for economic equality and more," said Mike Cody from Occupy Olympia.

The community is coming out in support of the occupiers. An interfaith group has been meeting to discuss the situation. The state has promised these local religious leaders that police will not conduct the eviction "under cover of darkness," but no one really knows what to expect.

Organizers at the camp have invited city council members to join them for a meeting to discuss how to deal with providing housing for the folks who have nowhere else to go. Arrangements have been made for cooking food and making signs at Media Island, a neighborhood organizing office.

Occupy supporters began to gather at the park on December 15. A rally was held at 10 o'clock in the evening with music and workshops. Many of the marchers planned to stay the night at the camp. They were encouraged to bring signs, instruments, food and cameras. Early risers were told to arrive at dawn and another rally and march was organized for 4 p.m. Friday, Dec. 16.

Local college instructor Peter Boehmer invited students from Evergreen State College and members of the community to join the campers in solidarity.

He noted that legal and medical support and medical supplies will be needed in case there is a police raid and people are injured. He also stressed this point: "We are asking for solidarity and resistance to be non-violent."

As the morning dawned, Occupy Olympia campers still saw no signs of police activity, but they believe that it is only a matter of time before their campsite will be dismantled by law enforcement agencies just like dozens of other sites around the nation.

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