Umbrellas Are Now Illegal in Seattle Thanks to Mayor McGinn

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As basic human rights go, the right to take shelter under an umbrella is about as basic as it gets, especially in drizzly Seattle. It's also a right that, at least for the Occupy Seattle protestors in Westlake Park, seems to have been revoked, thanks to Mayor Mike McGinn.

This evening, Seattle police notified the 70 or so hearty souls sleeping downtown that if they weren't actually holding their umbrellas then they couldn't lay or sit underneath them.

Sound weird? It is! But it's also the law.

Because to the city, an unattended umbrella is technically a "structure." And structures, like the tents that were taken down earlier in the week, aren't allowed in city parks.

Of course, McGinn has the power to change those rules, temporarily lift them, or laugh and say "What a stupid rule." But seeing as how he'd prefer the protestors move to the plaza outside of City Hall--where he's offered them the right to set up tents (warm, dry tents) and the use of two Port-a-Potties--it's in his best interest to make life miserable enough so that any alternative looks better.

Which leaves the Occupy Seattle protestors where exactly?

Well, they're not completely screwed. If they want to stay dry, they're still allowed to sleep under a tarp, so long as it's not tied up to anything (thereby making it a structure).

And if things get really bleak, they can always warm themselves with the knowledge that the protest has only been going on for a few days, and if today's illegal umbrellas are any indication, things are only going to get more absurd.

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