This week, those of us who were arrested last June in association with the Camp4Unity protest at City Hall decided to take our case to trial. Our condition for accepting the city's offer of community service was a no go for the City Attorney.
Several of us have been staying at Nickelsville, and at least one is homeless and has few viable alternatives to camping out. Unless sleeping on public property was exempted as one of the "criminal activities" that would violate the term requiring a year of good behavior, we said, there could be no deal.
The Camp4Unity 15 are charged with pedestrian interference and failure to obey a police officer. While "entrapment defense" and "pedestrian interference" are not words one would normally expect to appear in the same sentence, this may be the exception.
When I arranged the protest with Seattle Police, I told them we'd enter the street on Fourth Ave. in front of City Hall, whereupon we expected the SPD to do their bit. "Can you limit your protest to two lanes so we can direct traffic around you?" they asked. "Sure," I said. "We're about making a statement, not gumming up traffic."
The morning of, police said they'd be more inclined to release us quickly if we blocked the side street instead. We agreed, and officers lined their bicycles across Cherry as we moved into the street. We were free to go 45 minutes after our arrests.
Which perhaps explains the surprise second charge. Failure to obey is seldom, if ever, used against protesters.
We're not the swiftest crew in the world, but it seems like the City Attorney's office might have anticipated our defense strategy, and hedged their bets with the second charge. We'll see how that works out.