At first, the protest seemed like it would fizzle out. Thin crowds dotted Westlake Park last night as Occupy Seattle prepared to stage a march on the downtown Sheraton to protest a speech by Chase CEO Jamie Dimon.
But then, as a steady rain poured down, the shivering masses took to the streets and marched toward the hotel.
Less than an hour later, police used their bikes to ram through protesters blocking a side entrance to the Sheraton, and one female officer began dousing the crowd, including me, with pepper spray.For the most part, the protest was civil, save for the occasional straggler banging on a street sign with a stick.
Protesters chanted slogans that have now become familiar ("Banks got bailed out, we got sold out"), as well as new ones aimed specifically at Chase and Dimon. At one point, they started chanting "Bring him out," which quickly shifted to "String him up."
About 45 minutes into the protest, a group split off and walked toward a side entrance guarded by a single cop with a bike. They quickly linked arms and surrounded the entrance.
As a line of officers moved toward them with bikes, one woman stood on a planter and yelled, "They're moving in! They're using force! The whole world is watching!"
The line of officers tried to push their way through, but protesters stood their ground. Several officers at the front began ramming protesters with their bikes, and one officer fell to the ground in the process.
Then, seemingly out of nowhere, an officer with a canister of pepper spray that looked like a small fire extinguisher began dousing the crowd. I narrowly missed getting hit straight on, but got a glancing shot.
People who were hit straight on cried and were helped by fellow protesters who cleaned their eyes with bottles of water. One 24-year-old came walking around a few minutes later, saying he was on the other side of the building, but his girlfriend had texted him that she had been hit in the face.
Below are photos I shot on my phone. I have a video of the pepper spray incident, and am trying to upload it. (UPDATE: Watch video here).
Police used their bikes to ram through protesters who had blocked a side entrance. Protesters link arms outside of the main entrance to the Sheraton. The man in the suit on the right, standing in the hotel above the crowd, flipped protesters the bird. Outside the Sheraton. Protesters in front of the Sheraton. "String him up!," they chanted about Chase CEO Jamie Dimon. Protesters take to the streets on their way to the Sheraton A protester in Westlake Park before the march.