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Protest’s permit set to expire

Time is running out on a new group of Occupy Spokane protesters camped in Franklin Park whose permit runs out Thursday at midnight. (Colin Mulvany)
Time is running out on a new group of Occupy Spokane protesters camped in Franklin Park whose permit runs out Thursday at midnight. (Colin Mulvany)

Parks director says campers cannot renew extension

The clock may be ticking on a new gathering of Occupy Spokane.

Last week, a second protest site inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement sprouted in Franklin Park along North Division Street.

City officials gave the group a three-day permit and extended it for three days.

But city law doesn’t allow the permit to be extended again, said Parks Director Leroy Eadie.

It will expire midnight Thursday, and police will issue citations to those camped out who don’t leave, Eadie told the City Council at a meeting this week.

In the drizzle of Tuesday afternoon, there were about 10 tents set up but only about four people at the Franklin Park Occupy Spokane gathering. Those at the site said that’s because many who are camping out were at work and would be back later.

Lasha Blue Voloshin, 20, said she likely will leave the park after the permit expires. After that, she’ll likely spend more time, between her two jobs, at the downtown Occupy Spokane protest.

“I work two jobs and I’m still homeless,” said Voloshin, who works in security and as a telemarketer.

Many participants, like Voloshin, have said they will follow police orders.

“If we have to move, we will move,” said Bethany Heath. “It’s not going to be the end of Occupy Spokane.”

But not everyone has committed to leaving Franklin Park to avoid a citation.

Jody Ashe, who attended Monday’s council meeting, is camping at Franklin.

“If they would just remember that this is our First Amendment right, we probably wouldn’t be down there 24-7,” she said. “I’m just going to have to step up and do what I have to do.”

Ashe said she was inspired to participate in Occupy Spokane, in part, by the protesters in Egypt earlier this year.

“The systems are broken,” she said. “You can’t work within a system that’s broken.”

Eadie said holding a protest at Franklin is complicated by property issues. There is almost no street right of way outside the curb, so the land occupied by the campers is park land. That makes it subject to a 10 p.m. curfew once the permit expires, he said. The city could issue 14-day camping permits on land that’s not park land, Eadie said.

Meanwhile, Occupy Spokane continues at Monroe Street and Riverside Avenue. Protesters originally camped on the site, but tents were taken down after police said camping wasn’t allowed. Even so, protesters have kept a relatively constant presence at the intersection since. Because that site is not park property, there is no curfew and protesters can remain there as long as they don’t erect tents or block traffic or pedestrian travel, Eadie said.

“We’ve had a great working relationship with the Occupy Spokane group,” Eadie said. “The representatives that we’ve been meeting with are very reasonable people, very willing to work through solutions, very willing to have conversations.”

Eadie added that the protesters have so far complied with the terms of the permit.

“We have heard some concerns,” Eadie told the council. “I’ll just be honest with you. I think some of the phone calls that I’ve received are clearly political in nature and don’t appear to be directly associated with what we’re seeing on the ground.”

Deb Conklin, pastor of two United Methodist congregations in Spokane, said the permit for Franklin Park is in the name of Spokane Protest Chaplains, a group that includes about 20.