Occupy Seattle protesters, now in their fourth week of demonstrations, haven't given up the ghost yet -- far from it. They had fun with the Halloween-themed weekend to focus attention on their cause, staging a mock funeral service for the death of Corporate America, complete with a brass band; a Sufi priest; mourners in black with umbrellas, and funeral dancing. The protestors have moved their encampment to Seattle Central Community College, but go back to the original site at Westlake Park during the day, providing a route for frequent marches.
Hundreds of protesters gathered in the park on Saturday, October 29, bowing their heads to pay their final "respects" to the faceless concept of corporate greed and oppression. Mourners gathered around a draped coffin, dressed in black and huddled beneath a sea of black umbrellas.
It didn't take long after the final "amen" for a brass band to kick into high gear with tunes like "Down by the Riverside," while the crowd broke out into spontaneous modern versions of the fox trot and mambo.
Skeletons and zombies joined mothers, babies, grannies and men in business suits to celebrate the death of unequal economic practices that have held the world in what protesters consider a death grip for way too long.
The funeral service was led by Michael Douglas, a local Sufi priest. Sufism is loosely defined as the inner or esoteric dimension of Islam, and those who practice it have spanned several continents and cultures for over a thousand years. When he's not presiding over the death of corporate greed, Douglas teaches sacred art, music, and religious history to Seattle middle-schoolers.
After marching through the downtown core at 5 p.m. on Saturday, protesters settled in at the grounds of Seattle Central Community College on Capitol Hill. A Halloween party erupted at sunset, but costumes were far from frivolous. A man introduced himself as "Big Money" and proceeded to tell sinister stories of his power over America, then laughed hideously before asking "Why so serious?" and slithering into the night.
Another costume urging the break-up of the "big gambling banks," revived Washington State Senator Maria Cantwell's warning exactly two years ago that "Wall Street has a gambling problem." Senator Cantwell then stated that "Americans want to know when Congress will put an end to the Wall Street's secret off-book gambling schemes and restore our capitalist system by requiring real transparency and true competition." Judging by the Occupy movement still raging across the country, Americans are still wanting to know - and they're getting tired of waiting.
Another protestor in costume dressed as a young woman of privilege. Her sign described her character as a member of the 1%, stating that she had no student debt, plenty of family money, was well-connected, and had a corporate job. "I am not entitled, I am just lucky -- raise my taxes."
One participant wearing a t-shirt that read "One Nation Under God" pushed the envelope by holding up a sign to the protesters with an ultimatum: "Morans, Get Out." (sic)
"If God wants some people to have more money than everyone else, then that's just the way it is. It's God's will," the man told the crowd, a cigarette hanging from his mouth. "Jesus was a carpenter; he didn't have no union."
Unaware at first that the man's identity was a costume, the crowd's anger simmered and hostility filled the air. The young man kept a straight face as long as he could, but finally decided that he needed to say "trick or treat" before things turned ugly. Satire is just as prevalent as passion in the Occupy Seattle camp.
During a "speak-out" on stage lasting over two hours, the hand painted sign that marched with protesters from the site at Westlake Park to their new home on Capitol Hill waved in the increasing wind and absorbed scattered raindrops. Tents went up about 8:30 p.m., while the party and the protest settled into the damp Seattle night.