Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland praised the Occupy Tacoma movement for vacating a downtown park earlier this week in a peaceful manner — unlike similar Occupy groups in other cities.
In a statement issued Tuesday, Strickland lauded the protest group for peacefully leaving downtown’s Pugnetti Park and “having the smoothest and most peaceful transition of any Occupy group of which I am aware.”
As we wrote about earlier this week, the protest group vacated the park without incident early Monday. The state Department of Transportation, which owns the park property on Pacific Avenue, evicted the camp after allowing the group’s live-in vigil at the park for more than four months.
The group’s peaceful departure in Tacoma comes in stark contrast to the forced shutdowns and other violent police confrontations that erupted during similar Occupy vigils nationwide, from Los Angeles to New York. At times, police clashes during Occupy protests in Seattle led to mass arrests and widespread use of force incidents. Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn publicly apologized in November for one such incident, after city police pepper-sprayed nonviolent Occupy demonstrators. McGinn’s apology came after a Seattlepi.com photograph of an 84-year-old woman doused by police went viral.
Representatives of the Tacoma group, which formed with a mission “to end the corporate abuse of Democracy” in the wake of the Occupy Wall Street movement, have said the group will remain active.
“Although we are vacating Occupation Park we are still Occupy Tacoma,” the group’s website states. “As with other Occupies across the nation we anticipate an increase in local activism even without the constant vigil at park.”
Here’s the full text of the Mayor’s letter, which was read aloud at Tuesday’s City Council meeting by Deputy Mayor Joe Lonergan (Strickland was absent).
Dear Occupy Tacoma,
It has come to my attention that over the weekend the members of Occupy Tacoma vacated Pugnetti Park as requested by the Washington State Department of Transportation and Washington State Patrol. From what I have heard, you left the property willfully, respectfully and peacefully.
When compared to the contentious transitions that took place in so many communities across the country, it is clear that Occupy Tacoma has distinguished itself and honored the statement made throughout the four-month occupation of Pugnetti Park by having the smoothest and most peaceful transition of any Occupy group of which I am aware.
It speaks highly of your commitment to this community that you decided to leave the property peacefully. It has been gratifying as the Mayor of Tacoma for me to see new members of the community participating through public involvement as a result of the Occupy movement, and I hope that the members of Occupy Tacoma will continue to participate in the public dialog and work to improve our community.
Mayor Marilyn Strickland