The Schell Game

Anitra Freeman (
Sat, 27 Jun 1998 00:42:20 -0700 (PDT)

I have an update on Tent City 2 posted at

Summary: it appears to me that we are getting increased support from the
community (as in neighbors, not "community leaders", who appear to be
predominantly self-designated); at the same time, the Mayor's office is
becoming increasingly rigid.  The residents of Tent City 2 had voted to
accept their directive to take down the tents -- and just move the
encampment to the Jungle, the traditional major, central encampment
location in Seattle and a place where people were asking for help in
keeping conditions safe and clean.

The Mayor's office, however, sent a letter on Thursday -- the day of the
move -- explicitly stating that if we attempted to move back to the East
Duwamish Greenbelt -- the Jungle -- we would be arrested for trespass.

We suspected that: campers woke Thursday morning to find the police present
and watching, and got reports that there werte police waiting at the Jungle

So begins some *real* fun.

The tents were sent to the Bunkhouse.  The majority of the people (almost
70 after two weeks) were sheltered temporarily by DESC.  Approximately 20
volunteers, who will stay at the Bunkhouse for the time being, prepared to
launch the Schell Game.

At noon on Thursday we walked from the Reservoir encampment to the
Greenbelt.  We carried no tents.  When confronted by police at the Jungle
and forbidden entry, we explained that we wanted to go in, inspect the
area, and have a meeting -- as part of our ongoing efforts to help the
Mayor find solutions to the problems in the area.  We dwelt on the public
statements by the City that the sweep of the Jungle was only for sanitary
reasons, and that people would be allowed to re-enter after the cleanup.

We didn't let the police separate out a few individuals to talk to; we
stayed as a group.  We had four or five TV cameras recording the "exodus
and diaspora", plus a news helicopter overhead -- and we didn't let the
police pull us away from the cameras or agree to request the cameras to
stop filming.  We refused to disperse.

So the police sent for their Lieutenant.  He came and went through the same
tactics and they didn't work and he gave us the same arguments and we gave
him the same arguments and he couldn't get us to disperse and didn't want
to be responsible for arresting us so he sent for the Assistant Chief.

The Assistant Chief was *good*.  He didn't even try to shut down the
cameras, he played to them, repeating all the things the City is doing to
work with SHARE and WHEEL, and SHARE and WHEEL are doing good things,  and
these problems will be solved, but the City can't allow trespass on
Department of Transportation property.

So after a few more go-rounds of the same arguments (like, "With 3000
people outside, how can you rationally forbid encampments?"), one of the
SHARE men asked flat out, "If we go in there, are you going to arrest us?"
The Asst. Chief saw his out.  He carefully said, "We will allow you to set
up an encampment."  And we all wheeled on the instant and cheerfully romped
into the Jungle.

We went about a quarter of a mile in, found a private spot under a huge
willow, held a short meeting, and scattered -- exiting at many different
points.  So, eight policemen had watched 20 people enter the area, and
would see a handful come back out.  None of us stayed -- but they would
have no way of *knowing* whether we had stayed or not.

The main action of the Schell Game, however, is going to start up when the
police vigil wanes.  We figure that it takes a lot more exercise to remove
an established encampment than to blockade one from getting set up.  And
there's more than one way to set up an encampment .  Who says 30 people
have to arrive at once, with a truck?

I'm having fun, but I'm also tired, so I'll say goodnight for now.  I'll
keep you posted.

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