Union members, middle class join Occupy Seattle protest

Union members, middle class join Occupy Seattle protest
People listen to one of the speakers at Saturday's Occupy Seattle demonstration.
SEATTLE - The Occupy Seattle protest took on a decidedly more mainstream look on Saturday as hundreds of middle class and union members joined the group at Westlake Park on a rare sunny October afternoon.

Witnesses said a few hundred people turned out Saturday afternoon following a call from labor leaders to join the movement.

About 100 police officers were on hand, but the crowd was mostly peaceful, listening to a series of speakers.

Labor union speakers who took the podium said they wanted to show the Occupy Seattle movement that the middle class is behind them.

"Labor stands for the middle class. Labor helped create the middle class, and we’re here to make sure it doesn’t die," said Leonard Smith of Teamsters Local 117.

"There’s something wrong in the country where we can go ahead and demand that firefighters, police and teacher salaries be cut - but somehow we can’t ask millionaires to pay a little bit more in taxes."

Pedro Espinoza of the Pacific Northwest Regional Council Of Carpenters agreed.

"If we don’t stand up for their future, they're not going to have anything - the way politics keeps going and big corporations keep taking more and more," he said.

Kristy Dasilva, one of the hundreds who attended the Occupy Seattle demonstration Saturday, said she came because "things need to change for normal people."

"The fact that everything’s so unstable ... my dad, he doesn’t work anymore, he’s on Social Security – and that’s so unstable," she said.

Occupy Seattle set up tents in the park last weekend in support of New York's Occupy Wall Street demonstration against corporate political power.

Seattle police arrested about 25 people Wednesday for refusing to remove tents, which aren't allowed in the park. Eight of them were charged later with obstruction.

On Friday night, police ticketed drivers who honked in support of the Occupy Seattle protest.